One of the great things about Rolls-Royce is the extraordinary effort the company puts into maximizing comfort. It’s like how supercar builders will look for every little advantage to make their cars a tenth of a second faster. On the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost, the company uses something called the Planar Suspension System, a vague designation for the collection of used systems and parts. Some are straightforward, such as the four-wheel independent air suspension and the way the GPS and front cameras indicate what level of road stiffness to use. But one part left us perplexed: the damper of the upper wishbone. We spoke to Jon Simms, Chief Engineer on the Ghost, for more information, and now we have a better understanding of what it is and what it does.
What it is, it is the roughly horseshoe-shaped object highlighted in purple in the photo above. The yellow parts are bumper stops and it is mounted on the same joint as the upper control arm. And it turns out it’s a pretty simple device. It works very much like the harmonic balancer on the end of a motor. It’s a weight with a flexible rubber hinge, and when it comes to smaller bumps, it absorbs some of the extra vibration and movement of the suspension. Those yellow bump stops give the damper some extra buy on the control arm, and they absorb shocks from larger bumps that can suddenly move the control arm so that the arm and damper don’t collide.
This may seem like a pretty minor issue, but remember that Rolls-Royce and its buyers are looking for maximum comfort, so there’s reason to invest in solving every possible ride quality problem, regardless of size. And even if it’s a minor improvement, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Simms told us that existing Ghost customers they spoke to during development had an important request about the driving experience: “don’t break.” So making sure the new car was basically the same as the previous one, but a little better, seems to be what customers would want.
The Ghost is the first Rolls-Royce to adopt this full line of Planar Suspension System parts, although other Rolls-Royce models have had parts of the system. And given that the Ghost shares its platform with the Phantom and Cullinan, we wouldn’t be surprised if later versions of those models picked up parts like this damper.