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Car of the Year 2011: No. 11 Rolls-Royce Ghost

Lift Your Spirits

The downsized Ghost has huge tire tracks to fill, those of the immortal Silver Ghost that in 1906 gave birth to Grecian radiators, minted a new metaphor for opulence, and began a progression of the most impressive marque in motoring. Yet this starter Rolls—lighter, shorter, lower, narrower, and about $130,000 less expensive than its big sister, the Phantom—fits the heritage remarkably well. Although some of our judges faulted the Ghost’s fit and finish and apparent corner-cutting—machine stitching (though by craftsmen, Rolls notes) and glaring chromium bits and brightwork—most agreed that this land-liner based partly on the 760Li from parent company BMW provides the legendary “waftability,” eerie quiet, and total self-indulgence that were synonymous with your great-great-grandfather’s Rolls. —Paul Dean

 

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Shadow of the Phantom

In status, stature, and symbolism, the Phantom—Rolls-Royce’s largest car—has no peers. Which is why the Ghost is rather a letdown. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with a smaller Rolls; the 20/25 made perfect sense in the marketplace eight decades ago. But the Phantom has set a standard that the Ghost fails to attain. The Ghost offers much to like; it can hold its own with any luxury sedan, given its silky-smooth engine, wonderful ride, and commodious interior. However, when you compare its materials and fit and finish with those of the Phantom, it almost seems as if the Ghost is a badge-engineered BMW. —Robert Ross

SPECIFICATIONS

Configuration Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sedan Engine 6.6-liter turbocharged V-12 Transmission 8-speed automatic Power 563 hp at 5,250 rpm Torque 575 ft lbs at 1,500 rpm Curb weight 5,445 pounds Zero to 60 4.8 seconds Top speed 155 mph (electron-ically limited) Base price $246,500 Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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