Spy shots: 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost in white

First sales are scheduled to start early next year

First sales are scheduled to start early next year

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Rolls-Royce is currently developing a brand new model positioned below the Phantom for launch in early 2010, with the new car expected to double the number of vehicles built by the ultra-luxury automaker each year. The car will be called the Ghost and these latest spy shots confirm that it will be heavily influenced by the 2009 Rolls-Royce EX200 concept car.

The Ghost essentially resembles a vehicle with modern Rolls-Royce lines in a slightly smaller package than the current Phantom. Design elements such as the elevated prow, long bonnet, short front overhang, sharply raked A-pillar and elegant tail should give it an air of informal presence, while also allowing for a sportier appearance.

It will come with a 6.6L turbocharged V12 engine matched to a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic gearbox. Power at the crankshaft will top 500hp (373kW), which makes it more powerful than the Phantom despite being positioned below it.

In keeping with this positioning, the Ghost will be smaller all around. While the Phantom's dimensions stretch to around 5,834 mm, the Ghost will measure in at 5,399mm in length, 1,948mm across, and stand 1,550mm in height. Its wheelbase will stretch 3,295mm and inside there will be generous seating for five adults.

Rolls-Royce has also revealed that the car will make use of the very latest developments in chassis engineering, including a new four corner air suspension system matched to multi-link aluminum front and rear axle geometry. A new chassis management system will also be fitted and is designed to control the car’s anti-roll stabilization and the suspension stiffness to ensure the best possible comfort for occupants.

The new air suspension system is so sensitive that it can detect even the smallest of changes. For example, the movement of a single rear passenger from one side of the seat to the other can be detected and system modified to compensate. The on-board computer system reads multiple inputs from sensors around the car - the dampers alone making individual load calculations every 2.5 milliseconds. The air suspension system also incorporates a lift and kneel function, raising or lowering the car by 25mm for those steep driveways.

All this technology will come at a cost but the Ghost is still expected to significantly undercut the Phantom in price. While the Phantom starts at around $425,700, the Ghost is expected to compete with marques such as BMW and Mercedes, as well as traditional rival Bentley's Continental range, which means pricing could fall somewhere in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

Production will start at the company’s Goodwood manufacturing facility on the south coast of England later in the year.
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