Culture / Cars

Test Driving the New Rolls-Royce Ghost in River Oaks — Inside a $429,000 Plush Ride

No Chauffeur Required

BY // 10.19.20

When given the opportunity to test drive the newly-imagined Rolls-Royce Ghost, a girl has to consider her road map carefully. It simply would not do to drive the dreamy $429,000 carriage down the rough ride of Houston’s Shepherd Drive or the teeth rattling blocks of Commonwealth. No, this Saturday outing in the 2021 Ghost required River Oaks terrain.

So it was on a recent Saturday, only days after the Ghost had been officially introduced to the nation at an unveiling in Austin, that I slid behind the wheel of this dream machine and headed for the posh River Oaks neighborhood.

The Ghost was introduced a decade ago as a less intimidating steed than the flagship Phantom and since has grown as the best-selling model in the marque’s 116 year history. It’s the kind of imposing luxury that does not require a chauffeur. The kind that gives a girl confidence when pulling into valet, knowing that the car will be parked up front and respect will be given.

To be clear, this is no ostentatious, tricked out traffic stopper. Rolls-Royce declares the “new” Ghost “post-opulent.” It is not flashy. The dashboard is not complicated. No hours of instruction are required to grasp the operation. The lines are clean, understated for a car of this quality. Smooth and sleek, a subtle beauty designed to appeal to a fortysomething clientele interested in dash rather than flash.

Our favorite option in the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is the chilled compartment outfitted for a bottle of champagne or other adult beverage and glasses. (Photo by James Lipman for Rolls-Royce)
Our favorite option in the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is the chilled compartment outfitted for a bottle of champagne or other adult beverage and glasses. (Photo by James Lipman for Rolls-Royce)

The interiors are as luxurious as one could imagine. Slipping into the back seat for a bit of the chauffeur-driven experience, one is wrapped in spacious, sumptuous elegance from the buttery leather upholstery with hand-stitching accents to the LED shooting star headliner to the massage seats. Yes, seats both front and back are ventilated and offer massage embraces.

The traditional lambswool foot mats are accompanied by “picnic tables,” fold-down burl trays, that when open reveal tilt 9.2″ monitors, referred to as “theater configuration.” In the over-the-top world of auto options is the chilled cooler, tucked between the two back seats, with room for a champagne bottle (or other liquid) and glass storage. Because vintage and non-vintage champagne should be chilled at two different temperatures, the “chilled compartment” has two different settings. Non-vintage champagne should be around 6 degrees C and vintage champagne should be around 11 degrees C.

FERN FREEMAN

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To drive the Rolls-Royce Ghost is, no surprise, a dream. Consider the beautiful handling combined with a powerful 6.6-liter, V-12 engine good for 563 horsepower. Car and Driver has bestowed a 9.5 out of 10 ranking on the 2021. Of the 2020 model the magazine noted, “For those who desire sybaritic luxury and a spirited driving experience in the same ultra-pricey motorcar, the 2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost is your answer.” This girl would say the same for the 2021.

Now about that drive through River Oaks terrain. We brunched at see-and-be-seen hotspot Brasserie 19 then tooled through the oak-shrouded streets of River Oaks. And, no, I did not floor it on River Oaks Boulevard as I did in the Ferrari that I test drove last October. Nor did I rumble over the potholes of Richmond as I did when test-driving the Bentley Bentayga in 2018.

No, we gently toured the 77019 zip code and glided through River Oaks District where on weekends the chic shopping/dining mecca is the domain of drivers of every high-end, high-performing luxury automobile. And where the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost  proudly held its on.

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