When Ghostbusters hit the silver screen back in 1984, it began a franchise of near-Star Wars proportions – well it seemed that way at the time.
The supernatural comedy, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis (they starred in it too) was essentially about three unconventional parapsychologists who started a business catching/busting ghosts. Bill Murray (the third founding ghostbuster) played his usual zany, authority – and boundary-pushing self and they (plus their recruit Ernie Hudson) zoomed around New York City, basically running amok. It was funny, the ghosts/CGI were cool and the one-liners were simply outstanding.
The movie grossed US$242 million in the US and, aside from the catchy theme tune by Ray Parker Jnr (go on, hum along with me), it spawned an instantly recognisable logo (a ghost in a red ‘forbidden’ road sign), a slogan ‘who ya gonna call?’, T-shirts, action figures, comics, an animated series, games and, in my opinion (but that’s often not shared), an equally hilarious sequel, Ghostbusters II (there was another movie in 2016, but let’s not talk about that, shall we).
In real life, I’ve never actually seen a ghost (the translucent, scary kind) and, to be honest, I don’t think I want to – I’m not that brave. I have, however, seen the Rolls-Royce kind (Ghost Series 1) – alas, not up close and personal. And now, thanks to Rolls-Royce Auckland, not only have I seen the Ghost (Series II) but I’ve driven one too; and despite my preconceptions, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.
The Ghost is a four-door saloon (with coach doors in the rear) and has been deemed a more ‘realistic’ Rolls-Royce, essentially produced to make the brand more accessible. The ‘original’ Rolls-Royce Ghost was first lovingly crafted in 2009 and its moniker harps back to the 1906 Silver Ghost, however, this new model has all the trappings and trimmings that came with the 21st century, making it a ‘modern day’ classic, so to speak. With Rolls-Royce, heritage, status, luxury and refinement abound; its class is certainly prevalent throughout and although it essentially goes about its business virtually unheard from, there’s a 6.6L V12 engine under the bonnet that produces 419kW and 780Nm and effortlessly takes the near 2½ tonnes of British aristocracy from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds. Five years later, (with the five layers of paint on the bodywork seemingly yet to dry), in 2014, Rolls-Royce was at it again, and the Geneva Motor Show saw the first appearance of the Rolls-Royce Ghost II.
In virtually every instance, ‘sequels’ are a dangerous line to walk. The initial wow factor of something brand new has gone, so its creators (for example – movie or automotive) must somehow hold that fine line between keeping with the successful theme and yet still develop something new and exciting – and with the Ghost II, that’s exactly what Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have achieved.
Officially introduced to the world in 2014, the Series II boasted re-sculpted LED headlamps and unbroken daytime running lamps. The long bonnet now has a tapered ‘wake channel’ that flows back from the Spirit of Ecstasy’s wings. Down low, the ‘waft line’ has been slanted further forward and additional chrome inserts have been added to the fascia of the vehicle, in places such as the enlarged front air intakes.
The interior has been lavished with attention too; the front seats were re-designed and gently motioned towards each other (with the rear seats re-angled too) allowing for better front/rear communication, natural grain leather could be fitted to the A and C pillars, two new book matched veneers became available and the clock fascia and instrument panels received polished metal chaplets. Rest assured, the leather remains hand stitched, the veneers stay meticulously crafted, the headlining is cashmere blended and the floormats continue to be unmistakably deep lambswool.
Although there were plenty of ‘visual’ refinements undertaken, many more were added behind the scenes, both technically and mechanically. The suspension and steering gear have been improved to give even greater control and comfort (was that even possible?) and there is the offer of a ‘dynamic driving package’. Satellite-aided transmission was added too, an intelligent system that utilises GPS data and analyses your driving style, ensuring the optimum gear is always selected and you never need to labour that glorious twin turbo 6.6L V12 engine.
The Spirit of Ecstasy rotary controller in the centre console gives you access to all the infotainment upgrades, most of which can be viewed on the head-up display. A bespoke audio system connects to 18 speakers located somewhere around the cabin that beam crystal-clear sounds that will satisfy the most fastidious of audiophiles.
Although having a Ghost Series II for the weekend meant that I could take her anywhere, it somehow seemed only fitting to take her for a tour of Auckland’s most ‘haunted’ building – Spookers in Kingseat.
The ride there made for a varied drive of city, motorway and country roads, and quite the mixture of surfaces, but the Ghost II (and it’s very clever transmission) made the entire trip effortless. The combination of electronic smarts and precision engineering moved its large frame (5.4 metres in length by 1.95 metres in width) in a spectre-like floating fashion – it really was a joy to drive. The Spirit of Ecstasy is a mesmerising sight as it proudly leads you to where you want to go and, I have to say, is a little distracting for a Rolls-Royce newbie such as myself. Thankfully, the electronic assistants such as lane keep and blind spot ensured a trouble-free journey.
Upon arrival, I took the time to explore the rear seating area. For me, there is a bit of a dilemma between driving a Rolls-Royce and being driven. The carriage doors open widely to allow access to fine automotive opulence. Exquisite hand-crafted materials are there to greet you with a near embrace that is easy to get lost in. However, the lure of that long bonnet and powerful V12 soon had me back in the driver seat and back on the road. Don’t get me wrong, the rear of the Ghost’s cabin is a gorgeous place to be, but I still prefer piloting the ship – maybe I should be a chauffeur?
The Ghost has proven to be very successful for the Rolls-Royce brand and the Series II will undoubtedly extend this position even further. It is a vehicle that you’ll love to drive and yet will just as happily (well almost) take a back seat in. With its clever electronics and near unparalleled suspension qualities, regardless of which seat you occupy, the ride is so good it’s scary.
Looking for an amazing automotive experience? Who ya gonna call…?