So, the new Rolls-Royce Ghost is now in the UAE, and it had its much-anticipated debut on Dubai's highways and byways when the first of the region's media posse got behind the wheel this week.
It was never going to be a quiet affair. A fleet of six Rolls-Royces on the road in a convoy would attract attention anywhere in the world, but it had extra frisson amid the buildings of the Emirates’ biggest city. There was plenty of kettling from vehicles surrounding the cortege as it moved through one of the world’s biggest and most crowded conurbations, with onlookers keen to get a glimpse at the British brand’s latest model.
Anyone who has been up close to a Rolls-Royce will know what causes all the attention. When it comes to producing new models, the team behind the process follow a mantra of striving for perfection (we know all manufacturers say that but, let’s face it, most of us frequently have our doubts).
It is noticeable with the new Ghost, though. The feeling you get when you first look at it is that it is most assuredly something from the future. The manufacturer has simplified the inside and outside of the car to minimise any feelings of clutter. And what you experience when you actually get inside is an overwhelming sense of serenity, which is something many of us could do with during these difficult times.
The lead-up to the drive involved plenty of explanation and the like from Rolls-Royce’s senior production staff, and they kept coming back to one premise: this car was designed to be simple, but making it so had been a complicated process.
Yet, they have succeeded. The new Ghost follows the oft-mentioned cliche of less being more. The controls are minimalistic, the adornments (ornamental stitching, for example) pared back, and the wooden panelling hasn’t been shined up like a shopping mall floor, which makes it a lot less shouty.
The pandemic has affected the world in myriad ways, but this particular event was a microcosm of how we could all be doing business in the future. To illustrate the point, almost exactly a year ago, Rolls-Royce organised a drive for local media of its latest Cullinan, the brand's luxury 4x4.
The 2019 event took place across three days and luminaries from the brand, including chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos and global communication director Richard Carter, flew into Dubai from the UK and were on hand for question and answer sessions and personal meet and greets.
This year, the event was spread out over a week, with six test drivers in each day to sample the new car. All communication was held via video conference, with social distancing adhered to among those present at the Emirates Hills villa, where the event started and finished. Both the chief executive and communications director were on hand, but speaking from Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood headquarters in West Sussex on England’s south coast.
When it came to driving, though, all restrictions were cast aside, as there are few better cars than a Rolls-Royce in which to practise social distancing.
You know it’s coming … all this finery comes at a cost. The base price of the car is $318,000 (Dh1.1 million), excluding taxes, but the Ghost with recommended options will start from Dh1.8m in the UAE and the elongated Ghost Extended from Dh2m.
It's a modern car indeed and you'll need big money to pay for it. It's difficult not to be impressed, though. The Dubai onlookers keen to have a glimpse certainly thought so, and they're not exactly starved of extraordinary automotive sights.