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This might be the wrong thing for a friend of Rolls-Royce to say, but: I never aspired to owning one.
Don’t get me wrong, I love everything Rolls-Royce stands for: The luxury, the fine attention to detail, the brand, the exclusivity. It is all desirable. Highly desirable. But I never wanted to buy a car that I had to be driven in. As a motor-sport enthusiast it’s important for me to be behind the wheel.
It is funny how wrong one person can be. At the unveiling of the new Ghost Series II I had the rare chance to drive a Phantom Drop Head. Rolls-Royce played their trump card and ordered the rare UK sun to come out just as I got the keys to the car (for want of a better word).
The moment I sat in the driver’s seat I realised my perceptions were very wrong. The ergonomics were clearly set out for the driver. The driving position worked. A few swift smooth adjustments and I felt totally at home.
The key pushed in and the stop start button jumped the Phantom into life. The door closed at the touch of a button. And off I went, effortlessly gliding out of the grand Chichester driveway at the home of Rolls-Royce in West Sussex.
Power was on tap but, as expected, was deliverable in the smoothest, most linear way possible. No clunking, no stutters, no torque steer. Just automotive perfection. The side roads were no issue. A large car, yes, but even in the face of oncoming traffic, including all manner of lorries, it was not daunting. I felt a sense of purpose, even a sense of authority. The rutted side roads of the West Sussex countryside may as well have been the smooth race surface of the Goodwood motor circuit.
The quality of the leather was unparalleled, the noise was heavenly in its nonexistence, the clarity of the sound system was crystal clear even with the roof down, the power was smooth and ample, acceleration rapid yet subtle, the controls perfectly placed both visually and functionally. But the breaks were the most surprising aspect of the car. The car stopped. It really stopped. Given its size and ease of acceleration, I feared it would struggle to put down the anchors. But it really excelled without making you feel like you were going through the windscreen, it just gracefully came to a very quick stop.
The driving experience is parallel to the chauffeured experience, except you actually get to enjoy the ecstasy of driving the finest automotive machinery in the world. I only drove for seven miles, but those seven miles were life changing.
I have to now go back and re-evaluate my top 5 dream car list. I can assure you a Rolls-Royce is now high up in that list. I now just have to drive the Wraith and the Ghost to decide which one I want! I look forward to it with great excitement.
Ollie Hulme for Scaleogy