Let's face it, many of us are actually pretty good drivers. Arrogantly, I believe myself to be a decent sort of driver. Most of us decent drivers can, for example, negotiate the plethora of roundabouts on the Algarve’s N125 without batting an eyelid. We can even find our way down into the bowels of a Spanish underground car park that's really only wide enough for Dua Lipa’s slender frame. We somehow manage all these things without complaint.

Terrible drivers

Unfortunately, an equal number of people are terrible drivers. Every single day we encounter those who are (to driving) what Rab C. Nesbitt is to the English language. Earlier today, I drove down to Lagos. The person in front, in a Mercedes (not a Volvo or a Peugeot) stopped dead at every single roundabout only to set off again when he’d been stationary long enough to annoy everyone.

Yesterday (on the A22) I was overtaken by a chap in a tiny Korean car which was miraculously doing at least 90 mph. This is at least twice as fast as is actually safe in such a rickety little car. To make matters worse, he was weaving across the lanes so wildly that I actually thought he was suicidal. Anyone with a functional survival instinct wouldn’t dream of driving at half that pace in what was so obviously an unsuitable car.

But it's not the Speedy Gonzalez fraternity that worries me most. Nope. It’s the slow-poke dawdlers. The ones who pootle about in their own little world, totally oblivious of the whole row of traffic that's stretching back behind them, from Sagres to Castro Marim.

The worst ones are the militant slow-pokes who quite deliberately hold you back because they drive a car that is literally only capable of 45 mph tops! This obviously makes them feel a bit peeved because the only time they speed up is when some poor sod tries to overtake them. They do! We've all met them!

I reckon that the best means on offer to deal with the infernal slow-poke fraternity is to buy a car with a big, growling V8. Let's just say that having something like a 500-bhp Bentley is almost as good as having a decent motorbike because you can instantly overtake big chunks of that huge row of frustration that’s built up behind your average slow-poke.

It's quite safe too. Just floor it, and you’ll soon be looking at two motorhomes, a tractor, a Sagres beer truck and four whole Peugeots in your rearview mirror. On the next straight bit and in another stomach-churning snarl of petrochemical V8 fury, you can leave all those militant slow-pokes behind. It doesn’t matter how hard they try to accelerate to keep you on the wrong side of the road, their puny Korean cooking utensils will be absolutely no match for any thunderous V8 masterpiece.

Rolls-Royce Phantom

There’s another way of dealing with these people too, but it's going to set you back a few quid. Get yourself a Rolls-Royce Phantom. Being in a Phantom changes mindsets completely. It's sublimely serene and so will you be. Getting to your destination is tiresome because once you've settled into your comfortable armchair on wheels, you simply won't want to get out. So Mr Slow can eat his heart out. The slower he goes, the better.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

The Rolls-Royce Phantom is a towering masterpiece of automotive genius. It is so good, there’s simply no sense that you're driving an actual motor car. Crewe-built Rolls-Royce cars were good if you didn't really want to drive them. But the Phantom takes perfection to another level.

The whole car was designed from scratch using only a handful of BMW bits. The old “magic carpet” analogy doesn't even come close to cutting it anymore, because compared to a person sitting in a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Ali Baba has definitely got the bum deal. Engineering excellence has created something that even surpasses ancient Arabian magic. Why else do Arab clients snap them up? The engines, the veneers, the leather, the silence, and the sheer craftsmanship simply represents sublime perfection wherever you look.

This is why producing the so-called baby Rolls-Royce must have been an almighty challenge for the back-room boffins. The question is, how to produce a car that’s wholly worthy of being the Phantom’s stable mate but make it smaller and less expensive?

Hmmm? All this sounds perfectly OK until you arrive at this somewhat stark conclusion. Less expensive can only really mean one thing in the real world and that is - “not as good.” The Phantom is good for a reason, a bit like a good butter chicken curry; it's kind of difficult to imagine just how a low-fat version is going to be quite as delicious.

Vanity project

As I mentioned earlier, the Phantom was made from scratch. A sort of vanity project with a few BMW bits used to help things along. But the Ghost is based on BMW’s 7-series. It doesn’t feel nor look anything like a BMW 7-series but you’re always aware that the big Beemer is lurking somewhere beneath the surface; just like you always knew that a Jaguar X-Type was really a Ford Mondeo in drag.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

I must confess that when I first encountered the Rolls-Royce Ghost, I didn’t think I’d really appreciate it. As soon as I opened the door, I felt as though I could vindicate my prejudices. It looked more like a Jaguar than a Rolls-Royce. The carpets were no better than what’s in my Volvo. No thick Wiltons or floaty lamb’s wool rugs here. The car felt more and more like a sporty S-Class which isn't even as British as a Jaguar and certainly not very Rolls-Royce-like at all.

But all these things were merely first impressions. Despite the humble floor coverings, there can be no criticisms about the way the Ghost drives. It really is almost excessively comfortable. Quite possibly the most comfortable car I’ve ever experienced. It's as quiet as any car I've ever known. Ghost by name and ghostly by nature.

It's no slug either. When you encounter those inevitable Peugeots, you can kick them down and the Ghost will turn into a wild poltergeist. But silently.


Despite the lower fat content and lowlier floor coverings, the Ghost is an outstanding car. Despite being smaller than the Phantom, it's spacious and probably better looking too. No question, the Ghost is markedly better appointed inside than anything from the Jaguar or Mercedes camps. It’s just better.

The biggest worry of owning any Rolls-Royce is they bring out those otherwise hidden-away communist road users. The Ghost might be a low-fat Roller but you're going to experience full-fat contempt. You'll start getting paranoid about where you can park it because some slimy idiot will want to “key” it.

As a car, the Ghost really is brilliant but as an experience, I suspect it would turn out to be a constant worry. A Range Rover will do everything that the Ghost does for a lot less cash. Borrowing one was a great experience but living with one might prove a little more challenging.


Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring. 

Douglas Hughes