Complete comparison test of the 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost and the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur…

22 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Complete comparison test of the 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost and the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur…

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Where better to test these two very expensive cars from exalted old-money British companies (now owned by Germans), we asked ourselves, than California’s Highway 49 through the fabled Gold Country? Winding roads, vineyards, restored mining towns and the clinging aura of huge fortunes made and lost, of sudden good luck and dynastic fortunes established. Old money mixed with new.

Quite symbolic.

And let’s admit that once you spend more than about $25,000 on a car, part of its value almost always becomes symbolic rather than purely rational. And the more you spend beyond that, the greater the mythical content, so to speak. Add another $200K or $300K to that figure and people grow just a little quiet around your car and start to ponder its larger meaning, as if visiting the Pyramids or the Sphinx.

And some like to return home from the Nile with souvenirs. We could see it on this trip.

Consider the lovely Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament that adorned our Rolls-Royce Ghost test car. These things have been broken off and stolen so often that engineers have now installed the old girl on a pedestal that disappears under a small hatch any time you hit the lock button on the key fob. You can also raise or retract it with the touch of a menu button in the console.

Good idea.

When we left to test-drive these two cars on a 3-day outing from our Newport Beach offices north to the Mother Lode, we decided to beat L.A.’s rush (?) hour by leaving in the morning darkness, speeding over Tejon Pass and rendezvousing for breakfast at a restaurant in Grapevine.

I got there a little earlier than Managing Editor Andrew Bornhop and his. so I stayed in the driver’s seat, writing a few notes. Moments later, a restaurant patron strolled past the Rolls, then stopped in his tracks and came back. He looked the car over, then came right up to the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and stared at it. Hard.

A little too hard for my own custodial comfort.

Suddenly he realized I was sitting in the car, flinched visibly and left quickly in a straight line, like a man who’d accidentally bounced off an unseen tree and hoped no one had noticed. I lowered the statue and continued writing. The man’s intentions may have been good#151;pure curiosity or admiration#151;but he made me feel like a guard in an art museum.

This isn’t a feeling I have in many other cars.

No, indeed. These two are different.

Besides having historically resonant names, they’re expensive. The Ghost has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, as tested, of $308,350 (including a $9950 Rear theater configuration and $6000 for Individual Lounge Seat configuration), while the can be enticed to leave the showroom for a mere $226,485, its most expensive option being a $6900 NAIM Premium Audio System.

Second, they’re large#151;yet sporty for their type#151;and have a lot of horsepower. The 5495-lb. Rolls-Royce, borrowing some architecture from its BMW mother company, has a new and exclusive aluminum alloy 6.6-liter 48-valve 60-degree twin-turbo V-12 rated at 563 bhp. All that power goes to the rear wheels only, through an 8-speed electronically controlled transmission.

No flashy F1 paddle shifters here; the gearshift is a rather delicate lever on the steering column, and one need only select Drive to be transported quietly and with crushing quickness into the distance. It’s as if you’d set the Queen Mary in motion by stirring the olive in your martini. And rightly so!

The Flying Spur Speed, meanwhile, propels its 5575 lb. with 600 bhp of twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 (picture two narrow-angle V-6s sharing a crankshaft) descended from the VW Phaeton. There’s also a standard, non-Speed version that makes only 552 bhp, but we needn’t trouble ourselves about that. The Spur has a 6-speed transmission with both paddle shifters and a standard console-mounted lever, feeding all four wheels through a Torsen center differential.

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