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Let’s get this out of the way right now, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II, in South Africa, is absurdly expensive. Thanks to daft import duties, a car which costs around R3.5-million in the United States, lands in SA at about R7-million. And that’s before you hit the options list.
With that in mind, I did my best to approach the Rolls as an object which might, might just be attainable, as opposed to something which is laughably, outlandishly, terrifyingly priced. But that didn’t help when I was negotiating underground parking lots or Cape Town’s narrow side streets, when visions of paying off vast loans in lieu of a Roll’s fender filled my mind.
The Ghost is easy to dismiss as an extremely fancy BMW 7 Series, as it shares some chassis architecture and some of the modern bits and pieces like the SatNav. But having driven both, the Rolls might as well have arrived from a different planet.
On second thought, it feels like it arrived from a different time; a different era. We live in a world where companies who make microwaves take a look at the car market and decide they can make a profit. Many, many of the cars on our roads are built entirely robotically, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing - as cars are more reliable than ever - it is undeniably sad in some ways.
I like to think the only robotic thing at Roll’s Royce HQ is the microwave. Each seat in the Ghost Series II takes two weeks to stitch. I’m convinced the leather is sourced from cows that are massaged everyday; it's impossibly soft. The red lines down the shoulder of our test unit are painted by hand, and would make any architect blush.
All of this pales in comparison with how impressive the engine is. A 6.6 litre twin-turbo V12, it produces 420kW and 780Nm of torque, figures which are comprehensively beaten by cars like the Mercedes S 65 AMG Coupe, which we have filmed here previously.
But it is the way it delivers that power: all of the torque arrives at 1500rpm, which is practically standstill. And when it arrives, the Ghost quite literally leaps forward in a way that is as surprising as it is unsettling. This is a car which weighs 2.5 tonnes – 300kg more than a fully loaded Range Rover – and it hits 0 – 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. That’s the same time as the new BMW M135i.
But when you’re not interested in dismissing German hot hatches at the lights, the Ghost is serene. Unbelievably quiet and comfortable, it really can be driven with one finger on the wheel. It's effortless.
And that, I suppose, is how it should be.