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Rolls-Royce enters performance war

Ghost V-Specification.

Rolls-Royce has joined Bentley in a performance push at the top end of motoring and has upgraded the output of its 6.6-litre Ghost, which was already “more than adequate”, to a high-performance “perfectly adequate”.

The car’s V12 engine has been tuned to liberate an extra 22 kiloWatts, with 80 per cent of the power available from idle. The result is a 0-100km/h sprint time of just 4.7 seconds, despite the heft of a car that qualifies as a full-scale limousine.

Rolls-Royce has tagged the result as its Ghost V-Specification and has upgraded it with everything from 21-inch polished alloy wheels to ‘visible’ chrome exhausts and a number of V-Specification logos on everything from the pinstriping on the body to the seats.

“Wraith has built on the success of Ghost in attracting younger, more dynamic group of successful men and women to the marque. Ghost V-Specification’s contemporary aesthetic reflects this,” the global production communications manager, Andrew Boyle, tells Carsguide.

Production has already begun on the V-Specification cars and will run until June, although Boyle cannot confirm final pricing or numbers for Australia despite acknowledging the car will top the $645,000 sticker for a regular Ghost.

The V-Specification comes as Rolls-Royce works to lower the age of its owners, a number that’s been coming down since the arrival of the Ghost in 2009 and the arrival of the Ghost-based Wraith coupe last year. But Rolls-Royce denies any long-term performance push.

“It is a one-off vehicle available for a limited period of time. We have asked our engineers to deliver a small power increase to add to its exclusivity,” says Boyle. “V-specification does not change the character of a Rolls-Royce; it merely offers another bespoke Collection to our connoisseur and collector customers.

But what about a V-Specification car based on the Wraith, which already starts with a harder edge. “We have no current plans to announce in this direction. In short, no. Ghost and Wraith engineering teams are separate. The company also resists any comparison with Bentley, or suggestions that the two brands are engaged in any sort of arms race.

“Rolls-Royce and Bentley are two very different marques that operate in two distinct market segments. As the world’s leading super-luxury goods company our competition comes from goods outside the automotive sector such as helicopters, fine art, yachts.

“Rolls-Royce Motor Cars would never 'push the power' of its models. We engineer our cars with a commitment to fine engineering and craftsmanship. Mass-luxury segment model marketing techniques never inform our thinking. And there is a sideswipe for Bentley, too.

“We do not chase volume. Our customers value the rarity of these automotive works of art and do not wish to see them on every street corner. A volume driven approach may be appropriate to other organisations, but is not appropriate for Rolls-Royce.”

But Bentley has just sharpened the power of its Continental GT V8 S and is coming off a record sales year, with global deliveries in 2013 up by 19 per cent to 10,120 cars. According to Bentley’s chairman, Wolfgang Schreiber, the S - available as both a coupe and convertible - is more of the same for the GT.

“It is more agile, with with a lower and uprated suspension, faster, with more power and more distinctive with its signature S styling and a unique V8 S soundtrack,” he says. Power is up to 389 kiloWatts, with peak torque of 680 Newton-metres for a 0-100km/h that just edges the V-Specification at 4.3 seconds.

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