Forty percent of current Rolls-Royce Cullinan luxury SUVs are now ordered as Black Badge models, but the new Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge could take the lead in the future. Just days ago, the British luxury manufacturer unveiled its second-generation Ghost Black Badge, described as a “darker and ominous image of Rolls-Royce, that alter ego”. To immerse us in the land of the rich, Rolls-Royce invited us to Miami, Florida, to spend time with the magnificent Ghost.
44,000 paint choices
Contrary to popular belief, the name Black Badge does not imply an all-black ghost. But instead, carefully chosen design accents and a plethora of technical improvements are what drives the Black Badge name. The Spirit of Ecstasy and grille are coated with a special chrome electrolyte and hand polished to create a black chrome finish. They are associated with 21-inch wheels specific to Black Badge made of 44 layers of carbon fiber for maximum resistance. For the same reason, the wheels feature a 3D forged aluminum hub and even aerospace-grade titanium mounts. The wheel finish is completed with a lightly tinted lacquer to protect the precious carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber trim and more
Inside, the trim is black Bolivar wood along with special vents that have been darkened by physical vapor deposition. Even the watch that adorns the dashboard has been discreetly modified for the new version to give it a minimalist look with a chrome finish. There is also a pattern similar to carbon fiber called “technical fiber”. Of course, the Black Badge infinity logo is displayed through 152 individual LEDs.
The new Black Badge lives up to its name by showcasing what Rolls-Royce calls the darkest black in the automotive industry. 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of paint is used to coat the sedan’s lavish bodywork before applying two coats of clear varnish. The final step is to hand polish it to a glossy piano finish in a process that requires a team of four. If the blackest black isn’t your cup of tea, the elite Goodwood-based brand has no less than 44,000 paint choices available to the shopper.
The technical aspect of things adds to the mystique of the Black Badge models. Power output drops from 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque in the regular Ghost to 591 horsepower and 664 pound-feet in the Black Badge Ghost. Rolls-Royce revised some of the mechanics by decreasing the pedal travel and increasing the braking point. Thanks to Low Mode, gear change speeds are increased by 50% when the throttle is depressed to 90%. An all-new exhaust system has been developed so everyone will know in a subtle way that the 6.75-liter unit has been fine-tuned for more power.
A darker alter ego
Owning a Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge is a way of life and the performance side is not what drives a Black Badge owner. Still, to sample the technical improvements of the new Ghost Black Badge, Rolls-Royce rented a closed course in Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park for sprints and high-speed maneuvers. Florida police officers are on hand to signal us for our 0-62mph runs. The nearly 6,000 lb luxury vehicle sprints effortlessly at top speeds, thanks to smooth power delivery from the wonderful V12 engine. No drag racing GPS box was used in this experiment, but according to Rolls-Royce statistics, the new Ghost Black Badge hits 60mph from standstill in about 4.5 seconds. And it certainly feels extremely fast in a straight line.
When you also factor in the new low mode, the Ghost Black Badge is even more precise, releasing full torque at just 1,700 rpm. The 8-speed automatic transmission is even more precise now while being extremely smooth when changing gears. Despite the car’s massive mass, the high-speed maneuvering exercise demonstrates its agility, even when it hits 50-60 mph and pulls hard left and right on that steering wheel. Of course, the active anti-roll bars, the all-wheel drive system and the four-directional system help, while the planar suspension system helps with stability.
On the road, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge feels at home. Driving the car through beautiful South Beach and Miami’s Artist District will turn a lot of heads. Especially since our car was painted entirely in black with a subtle red stripe on the sides. The sumptuous and refined interior is what one expects from a Rolls. And he never fails to deliver. The Shooting Star Starlight Headliner illuminates the interior in typical Rolls-Royce style, while the 1300-watt hi-fi audio system delights us with hip music. The carbon fiber plating is exquisite and the plush ride makes the trip enjoyable. Even in stop-and-go traffic.
The night ends with the typical Rolls-Royce customer experience: a trip to Miami Beach for fine dining at a sold-out restaurant. And of course, the return to the hotel is done from the back seat with a personal driver at the wheel. For one day, I lived like a Rolls-Royce customer would live every day.