What It’s Like to Drive a $400,000 Rolls-Royce Ghost in the Snow
Buttery smooth and sealed from the outside world, it was like "sitting in your living room wearing VR goggles"
“Luxury,” the epically elegant Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel once said, “is a necessity that begins where necessity ends.” That Escher drawing of an idea hints that really special stuff — Michelin-starred meals, half-a-million-dollar cars — are, in fact, the logical next step when we don’t really need anything at all. Think of it as the paradoxical tippy top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; the goodies you want is all that you can leave behind.
Thusly put, a winter weekend in Quebec may be an elective endeavor, but the next-level jam is to elevate it with a scenic drive bookended by outstanding food, shelter, and civility. I won’t bore you with the details of Rolls-Royce’s curated getaway — the 30 room Quintessence Hotel in Mont Tremblant, the quaint AF cuteness of a ski-in-ski-out village, or how this warm-blooded Southern Californian was reminded that raclette and fondue are effective fortifiers for freezing weather. We’re here to talk cars, damnit, so kindly ignore the fleeting digestibles and focus your attention on one exceptional way to get from A to B.
To promote their particular brand of rolling je ne sais quoi, the Goodwood manufacturer organized a drive through the snow-doused countryside just outside of Mont Tremblant in an all-wheel drive steed one might not typically associate with 4x4s: the Rolls-Royce Ghost. The unlikely dance partner combines snippets from Rolls-Royce’s current product matrix. While the basic layout and electrically operated doors are also found in Rolls’ bigger, taller, and more imposing four-door Phantom, the humbler Ghost claims all-wheel-drive, a feature one RR rep says will “never” find its way to the stately flagship. Of course the feature can also be found in Cullinan, the brand’s ultra-imposing SUV, and it will also be featured on the Spectre coupe which drops later this year. But that’s a fully electrified story for another time.
While the Cullinan might have been the obvious choice for this low temperature mambo, turns out the Ghost is a solid stand-in for inclement weather driving. No, it’s not made for trail driving or river fjording or the adventure-themed ice-and-snow activities you’ll find off the beaten path in these hibernal climates. But when equipped with winter tires and piloted on northern Montreal’s rambling country roads, Ghost brings so much insulation from the outside world that you may as well be sitting in your living room wearing VR goggles. Once sealed into the cabin (which can be accomplished by holding the center console-mounted power door button), the interior becomes a hermetically sealed isolation chamber from the elements outside. Heated seats and steering wheel? Check. Massage? De rigueur. Hundreds of fiber optic lights overhead emulating the night sky? File under: things you never knew you needed.
If heft is confidence, this Roller has the right to be one of the cockiest five-seaters on the open road. Weighing 2.8 tons and displacing its mass on massive winter tires situated at the four corners of this big-bodied sedan, the Ghost has an inherent degree of stability that makes it feel surefooted over icy roads. Though it can hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph, the Ghost is best when its 563 horsepower V12 is loping about at low rpms, sending waves of torque through the imperceptibly shifting transmission. Though not the crispest, sportiest way to scoot, that’s exactly the point of this eight-speed gearbox, as it uses satellite data about the road ahead to determine when to hold the shifts, and when to (gently) fold ‘em. The ride is buttery smooth and the hush of quiet soothing, but if that’s a bit too understated for your tastes, a Black Badge version offers a slightly more vocal exhaust note, a tad more power (591 horsepower), incrementally sportier suspension, and trick trim that includes 21-inch wheels made from 44 layers of carbon fiber.
One curious footnote to being behind the wheel of an immaculate Roller? When you’re driving past sprawling farmland and remote roads, there’s nobody around to quietly judge you for being in a car that costs as much as a house. My everyday experience with the Ghost proves that not only is there no need to tuck expensive sedans away for the winter, there’s a unique pleasure in using something special because of, not in spite of, its luxury.
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