JAMES MARTIN: Why the Rolls-Royce Ghost is as good as it gets | Mail Online

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Why the Rolls-Royce Ghost is as good as it gets

UPDATED: 21:01 GMT, 29 May 2010

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Have you ever noticed how there are no pilots among Premier League footballers? That’s a bit weird, given how rich they are and how popular flying is with rock stars, film stars and City boys. You’d think being young, loaded and blessed with brilliant spatial skills would have footballers rushing for their wings, but the only one I’ve ever heard of was Michael Owen buying a helicopter.

What’s stopping the rest of them?

The quality is astounding. If I can say ‘value for money’ on a car that’s nearly Ј200,000, then the Rolls-Royce Ghost is it

Let’s face it, the one thing all footballers like is being noticed. They love those paparazzi shots where they’re caught sticking their Selfridges bags in the back of the conspicuously double-parked car, and to make sure they’re noticed they always go for the biggest, most expensive motors on Earth: Hummers, Escalades, Bentleys, Ferraris. It’s all about status.

So why do none of them ever drive Rolls-Royces?

The planes thing I can live with, but you’d think status-obsessed men on Ј100,000 a week would be all over the ultimate symbol of power, wealth and refinement. Becks has a Phantom out in LA, but I’ve never heard of a ‘baller in a Roller over here. It must be frustrating for Rolls-Royce, because rival Bentley has been doing a roaring trade in Continental GTs to footballers.

Low sill height means you step into the car rather than climb in

And so we have the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Clearly designed to appeal to the GT crowd, this smaller, faster, lighter Rolls is set up to be far more of a driver’s car than the chauffeur-oriented Phantom.

People called it the ‘Baby Rolls’ while it was in development but to me it still felt the size of a luxury cruise liner as I glided through the factory gates at Goodwood. First I headed down the road to the airfield where my training plane lives – the one pictured. It’s great fun but I think I prefer the Ghost.

The dash is brilliantly simple: three large dials for speed, petrol and power reserve and next to them the best sat-nav and media system in any car I’ve tested

Let’s start with the body. Rolls-Royce are the only people who call the front of the car the ‘prow’, and the whole thing does have the feel of a yacht – the type with massive thrust and a billionaire on board.

Part-assembled on the same German production line as BMW’s 7-series, everything that makes it a Roller happens at the clean, quiet Goodwood workshop. It takes 60 people 20 days and 2,000 operations – fiddly jobs like hand-welding the double front bulkhead (to keep engine noise out of the cabin) and then hand-sanding – until it’s completely perfect.

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