Rolls-Royce Christens Its “Post Opulent” Era With the New Ghost

Can a Rolls ever be minimalist? We’re about to find out.

The new 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost car in white
Is the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost the face of "post opulence"?
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Luxury. Extravagance. Opulence. That’s not an impression of Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong; these are the bona fide, unironic labels Rolls-Royce has been achieved during its 116-year history. But while the British marque is the definition of automotive luxury for some, for others it puts too much emphasis on the luxury half of that equation and not enough on the automotive. As Jerry Seinfeld said of a 1960 Silver Cloud II, “As a car, it’s horrible, but it’s a nice living room with wheels.”

Instead of staying the course, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today christened a new era with the unveiling of the latest Ghost, a revamped version of the best-selling car in its history. There’s plenty of tech, engineering and amenities to dig into, but the most important detail of this release is the brand’s statement that the Ghost “reflects ‘Post Opulent’ design philosophy, rejecting superficial expressions of wealth.”

Is the automaker taking a potshot at the maximalist, chauffeured vehicles from its past? Is it positioning the new Ghost as the antidote for Rolls-Royce owners who are mad that the once-exclusive brand is caving into the SUV hype? It all seems plausible, especially as the company describes the new Ghost as “minimalist,” a word that has never seriously been used to describe Rolls in the past.

How is Rolls-Royce following through on this change of brand identity? First, as CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös says in the launch video, “[the designers] removed all unnecessary design embellishments” from the interior and exterior. The all-white color scheme of both the promotional photos and the video certainly accentuates that new philosophy, but just because it’s not chock-full of snakeskin accents and redundant badging doesn’t mean they didn’t go overboard in other respects.

Inside the car on the passenger side of the dashboard, there is a new element called the “Illuminated Fascia,” a lighting effect whereby 850 individual stars glow around the “Ghost” nameplate, which pairs well with the Star Headliner, a Rolls-Royce feature available in other vehicles that turns the roof into a starry night. 

As for the actual automotive aspects, the old Ghost shared a platform with a BMW 7 Series (BMW Group owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars), while the new iteration upgrades to an aluminum spaceframe architecture which is already used in the automaker’s Phantom and Cullinan, as Car and Driver noted. The engine also carries over: a massive 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12, which will for the first time be paired to an all-wheel drive system.

As for the price, Car and Driver wrote, “We are predicting a starting price in reasonable proximity to the $314,400 of the outgoing model.”

If nothing else, that’s one area where Rolls-Royce will never be post-opulent.

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