The overhaul of Rolls-Royce’s range will continue early next year with a new generation of the Ghost luxury sedan.
The second-generation Bentley Flying Spur rival follows the launch of the Cullinan SUV which came out late last year and the eighth-generation Phantom limo in 2017.
The first prototypes of the new Ghost were spotted undergoing development testing and they revealed a typically evolutionary design approach for the British luxury brand.
With an intention to retain its familiarity and presence, the luxury sedan will get the signature rear-hinged rear doors and prominent grille design, with modern touches such as ‘laser’ headlights and LED tail-lights. The bigger news is under the skin, as the Ghost will benefit from an all-new bespoke aluminium spaceframe platform.
The outgoing Ghost shares a steel monocoque with the BMW 7 Series, but the new model’s bespoke architecture signifies Rolls-Royce’s greater autonomy from its parent firm. In the Phantom, the platform is claimed to result in a 30 percent improvement in body stiffness over its predecessor. However, given the outgoing car’s relatively modern platform, the rigidity gains for the Ghost are likely to be less.
The move from steel to aluminium should also make the 2020 Ghost lighter than the current car, which weighs 2.36 tonnes in standard form and 2.45 tonnes in extended-wheelbase guise. However, Rolls-Royce is likely to offset some of the kerb weight benefit with an increase in technology, equipment and insulation.
Spy shots reveal that some of the car’s mechanical development and testing is taking place in BMW’s German facilities, rather than at Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood headquarters. A 6.6-litre, twin-turbocharged V12, shared between both brands, was developed to Rolls-Royce’s own specifications and will feature in the Ghost. The engine develops 585hp and 849Nm of torque in the range-topping BMW M760Li xDrive, but sources suggest it could produce more in the new Rolls-Royce.
Unlike the outgoing model, the Ghost also looks likely to adopt four-wheel drive, which when mated to a faster-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox should mean better acceleration. With a decrease in weight and the engine’s greater on-paper efficiency, small fuel economy gains are likely, although extra tank range is more of a priority for Rolls-Royce owners.
The Ghost could use the technological advancements introduced in the latest Phantom and Cullinan. And that includes the 48V electrical architecture, allowing an active anti-roll system, while four-wheel steering should also improve low-speed agility and high-speed stability.
The interior of the new Ghost has yet to be seen, but it is expected to reflect the same blend of traditional coach-built material richness and discreet, high-end tech of its current siblings, which means features like digital dials, a head-up display and active safety features, as well as details such as an infotainment screen that electrically slides out of sight when not required.