Alone on the empty and windy road, I can hear a clear, rumbly roar from the exhaust, and each touch of the steering wheel creates a sharp, defined response. This is enjoyable and engaging but atypical of the Rolls-Royce we’re accustomed to.
Traditionally, a Rolls-Royce glides along in isolation and indifference to the outside world, but this Black Badge model feels more energetic. It’s dramatically different than the standard Ghost, providing yet another reason to add a Rolls-Royce to your collection.
Setting The Mood
Every Rolls-Royce can make you feel like one in a billion. People gawk and point while you sit in comfort on any of the four seats in the cabin. But the Black Badge appeals to more than just bystanders on the street. It defies tradition, and that dissent radiates coolness.
For example, the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament has been around for over 100 years and is rarely modified. On Black Badge models, Rolls-Royce tampers with the formula, injecting the ornament with a special chrome electrolyte that darkens the finish, providing a mesmerizing mirror-black chrome look.
The chrome and ornament aren’t the only details unique to Black Badge models. The wheels are unusually intricate, created by folding 22 layers of carbon fibre on three axes. Carbon fibre wheels are usually used on sports cars striving to save every gram of weight. On a 5,490-pound Rolls-Royce, they’re there to show off the craftsmanship of the brand.
The automaker has shown in the past that it can work with metal, wood, and leather. Now it has proved its expertise in carbon fibre.
Another intriguing highlight of the Ghost Black Badge is the logo. Known as the lemniscate, it is best described as the infinity symbol with a line underneath. First applied to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Rolls-Royce-powered, record-breaking hydroplane, the logo now symbolizes the brand’s pursuit of power.
The lemniscate is displayed on the illuminated fascia on the passenger side of the dashboard. This area uses 152 LEDs, which are colour matched to the cabin clock and instrument dial lighting. The LEDs shine through 90,000 laser-etched dots to create a twinkling, eye-catching piece of art right on the dashboard.
The Ghost Black Badge gets a bit more performance too, with power and torque bumped up to 603 horsepower and 620 lb-ft of torque.
Black Badge buyers get a unique, performance-oriented “low” mode, which also counters the usual MO: Rolls-Royce customers want to just get going, a company spokesperson told us, and do not want to push buttons or further customize the driving experience.
But that low mode lets drivers feel the performance enhancements of the Black Badge model. An exhaust baffle opens up, allowing you to hear the roar of the 6.75-litre V12 engine. The vehicle roars from a stop in first gear, rather than the usual smooth takeoff in second. You feel all the guts of the car in ways you usually miss in the standard Ghost. It’s lively and more boastful than the passively elegant standard models.
Furthermore, the vehicle gets a tuned steering rack, allowing it to change direction a bit more quickly. Add in the tuned four-corner suspension that reduces body roll, and the Ghost Black Badge feels more like a sport sedan than a limousine. Getting in and setting off in the usual commute and traffic, the Ghost Black Badge feels perfectly smooth. But it also feels well suited for those moments beyond mere commuting.
Playful and cool, it represents a completely different side of the automaker, one less interested in abiding by tradition.
Following the introduction of the Black Badge models in 2016, the brand’s age profile has dropped to 43 from 50. The average age of a Black Badge owner is 42, while 27 per cent of all Rolls-Royces are Black Badge models, showing the brand’s understanding of a new cohort of clients.
While the Ghost stays post-opulent and avoids unnecessary bling, this Black Badge model has a bit of an edge to it, and it’s easy to notice.