A FRIEND FOR LIFE

By: Mohana Prabhakar

I know they say money can’t buy you friends but if you ever wanted to do it, let me tell you about the best friend that money can buy. A Rolls Royce.

I know they say money can’t buy you friends but if you ever wanted to do it, let me tell you about the best friend that money can buy. A Rolls Royce. Think about it: It will show you unquestioning love, cocoon you in a hushed space of the softest, most luxurious leather and sound only when you want it.

Best of all, this is a relationship where everything will always be just about you and you can even mould this friend any way you like.

The good men and women at Goodwood, the home of Rolls Royce manufacturing in West Sussex, England, will show you options for that ultimate bespoke car that will satisfy every whim.

In London to test drive the Ghost Series II 2015, on invitation from Rolls Royce, the experience started from the moment I stepped out of Heathrow. A chauffeured drive in the Phantom awaited me, driven by no less than Andy McCann, the man in charge of the Rolls Royce White Glove chauffeur training programme.

By the time I got off at The Shard, I had already had a full overview of the various models in the RR stable, the change in the Ghost II over the previous model and of course a taste of the effortless luxury that is Rolls Royce.

One essentially thinks of a Rolls as a ‘chauffeured car’, but RR’s customer base no longer only comprises mature success stories. Young entrepreneurs in their forties (and those in their thirties in China) are increasingly looking at owning a Rolls. This view was echoed by everyone over the course of three days with RR.

Chief executive Torsten Müller-Ötvös said, “We have attracted a new generation of clients to Rolls-Royce – these people are a unique, exclusive group of exceptional achievers who drive success in today’s world. They know what they want and go out to achieve it. And then, having accomplished their objectives, they reward themselves with the ultimate symbol of success, a Rolls-Royce Ghost.”

Stepping out at 9am on a cool English morning, on the driveway of The Shard, there were more than ten Ghost IIs waiting to be driven through the streets of London, the motorways and the country roads of Kent. Armed with detailed instructions on what is probably one of the most user-friendly GPS systems I have seen in a while, my drive began from Canary Wharf.

I had been told that the Ghost II had electronically adjustable thigh supports and depth adjustment for the front seats; all I know is that settling in for the 130km drive ahead of me was accomplished in surprisingly little time. A quick bit of instruction from our RR chauffeur, and I was off with a co-passenger, also in the Ghost II for the first time.

London is a favourite city of mine, but not exactly one where I looked forward to driving a car that was this big (2,470kg) and of course, there was the matter of being in charge of a piece of machinery that cost a few hundred thousand dollars.

Added to this, I am not used to driving on the other side of the road. Needless to say, the pressure was immense.

All of that simply melted away when I started off. Smooth as silk – there is no other way to describe the first sensation. The 6.6lt, twin turbo V12 car just purred its way through London. Gear changes are seamless – and I mean seamless, as in invisible. I learned later that this is due to the addition of Satellite Aided Transmission, a technology that made its debut on the Wraith in 2013.

This system uses GPS data to allow the car to see beyond what the driver sees, anticipating their next move based on location and driving style. It uses this information to select the most appropriate gear from the 8-speed ZF gearbox.

For example when approaching a sweeping bend, the car will predict how you wish to drive through it. When the driver lifts the accelerator it will hold the lower gear to ensure maximum power is available on accelerating through the exit of a corner.

It’s a shame that England’s motorways are limited to 70miles/hr, though I will admit I went above that a couple of times and it was an amazing feeling.

Driving through the winding country roads though, jostling for space with looming hedges, monster tractors and tiny cars hurtling at breakneck speeds, was not quite as liberating.

But once again, the manoeuvrability in the Ghost II is amazing. Having got lost at one time, I entered the little driveway of a village church with a Sunday fete on. Once my co-passenger got the new directions, getting the car out of that tight space of balloons, people and signboards was surprisingly easy.

A word about the audio system, without which my story would not be complete: You have no less than 18 speakers (individually-tuned) with theatre and studio settings. Two bass speakers in the boot, seven around the cabin and two ‘exciter’ speakers in the roof lining bringing the sound to your ears in a way that is best experienced, not explained.

What this simply means is that not only does the hushed cabin remove you from the noises of everyday life in any traffic situation, but it offers you an audio experience that is heavenly.

Talking about music brings to mind a 50 year old song:

‘When you’re alone and life is making you lonely , you can always go – downtown;

When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry, Seems to help, I know, downtown..’

While Petula Clark advised you to go downtown in 1964 when you were feeling blue, in 2014 what I say is: Go buy a Rolls Royce and then, go downtown. There is no better way to feel on top of the world.

Rolls Royce dealer in Oman: Al Jenaibi International Automobiles, 80050008.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY