Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost: Welcome to the Dark Side

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Latest Black Badge Rolls
About a year ago, Rolls-Royce introduced the new Ghost, and this luxurious sedan quickly became one of the fastest-selling models in the company’s history. With a smooth, powerful ride and the ultimate in comfort and technology, the Ghost has a presence unlike anything else on the road. Now Rolls-Royce introduces a new Ghost that is a bit darker, edgier and — dare we say it — sportier: the Black Badge Ghost. With increased power and performance and a more dramatic style, this Ghost is best described by Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos as, “the purest Black Badge motor car in the marque’s history.”

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars What Is Black Badge?
Rolls-Royce launched Black Badge with the Wraith and Ghost models in 2016. A Black Badge version of Dawn joined the line in 2017, followed by the Cullinan Black Badge in 2019. Black Badge variants have a darker look about them, and are geared toward performance without sacrificing the qualities expected of a Rolls-Royce. Perhaps the best description of a Black Badge variant concerns perspective: a typical Rolls-Royce owner is often driven by a chauffeur; Black Badge owners likely prefer to drive themselves. Black Badge variants — often considered by company personnel as the alter ego of Rolls-Royce — now comprise more than a quarter of marque’s sales worldwide.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Changing for the Customer
“In the five years since Black Badge became publicly available, this bold family of motor cars has come to symbolize the pinnacle of a new type of super-luxury product, setting in motion a shift across the wider luxury industry,” noted Muller-Otvos. The Black Badge spirit has had a profound effect on the Rolls-Royce brand’s customer base — the average age of a Rolls-Royce buyer is now only 43 years old, making it the youngest brand in the BMW Group — including MINI.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars “Post Opulence” Design
While creating the Ghost, Rolls-Royce designers referred to the styling as “Post Opulence.” This represents the importance of using exceptional, authentic materials versus making an overt statement. Some might argue that a Rolls-Royce is already an overt statement, although the Ghost was designed with minimalism in mind while retaining high levels of luxury and technology. Black Badge Ghost takes this concept even further with blacked-out exterior treatment and unique materials and colors for the interior.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Spirit of Ecstasy in Black
The shape of the Ghost remains the same, so there’s no mistaking it for anything else, although the Black Badge version gets unique treatment that further differentiates the vehicle from a “standard” Ghost. Most noticeable is the dark Pantheon Grille and Spirit of Ecstasy ornament at the front. Not merely painted black, these elements are subjected to a specific chrome electrolyte in the traditional plating process that gets deposited on the stainless steel substrate, thus darkening the finish. These elements are then hand polished to a mirror-black chrome finish.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Blackout Treatment
In the tradition of Black Badge variants, all chrome trim on the Black Badge Ghost also gets blacked out. This includes window and light surrounds as well as the logo and bar across the trunk lid. The large dual exhaust outlets also receive the more sinister blackout treatment.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Bespoke Composite Wheels
The Black Badge Ghost is fitted with bespoke 21-inch wheels created in a complex process. The barrel of each wheel consists of 22 layers of carbon fiber laid on three axes, then folded back on themselves at the outer edges of the rim, forming a total of 44 layers of carbon fiber. A 3D-forged aluminum hub is bonded to the rim using aerospace-grade titanium fasteners, and then finished with the hallmark Floating Hubcap that keeps the Double R monogram upright at all times.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Darkest Black
Customers placing orders for a Black Badge Ghost can choose to have the car painted in practically any color in existence; however, most will likely choose the signature Black paint. But this isn’t any black paint — Rolls-Royce says it is the darkest black in the auto industry. To create this special hue, engineers atomize 100 pounds of paint and apply it to an electrostatically charged body in white, followed by oven drying. Two layers of clearcoat get applied, and then the entire car body is hand polished by four craftspeople, resulting in a high-gloss piano black exterior.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Inner Space
The elegant cabin of the Ghost also gets the Black Badge treatment. The air vent surrounds on the dashboard and in the rear cabin are darkened using physical vapor deposition — a method of coloring metal that ensures parts will not discolor or tarnish over time. The bespoke Black Badge timepiece located in the dash also gets treated with a subdued chrome finish, with only the tips of the hands visible as well as the clock numerals 3, 6, 9 and 12.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Technical Fiber
Keeping within the Post Opulence theme, the Black Badge Ghost emphasizes unique and special materials inside, making extensive use of a new complex material called Technical Fiber. The material starts with woven resin-coated carbon and contrasting metal-coated thread laid in a diamond pattern. Multiple wood layers are pressed onto the interior sections, with black Bolivar veneer used for the uppermost layer. This layer acts as a base for the carbon/metal weave. Each component is cured for one hour under pressure at 100°C, and then gets sandblasted to create a surface that receives six layers of lacquer. This unique surface is then hand-sanded and polished before being brought into the car.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Lemniscate
A symbol found throughout the interior of the Black Badge Ghost is the infinity symbol, also known as a lemniscate. This symbol represents the potential for infinite power and gets prominently displayed on the illuminated fascia in direct view of the front passenger, among the 850-plus stars that mimic the signature Shooting Star Starlight Headliner. A customer can also request that the lemniscate be incorporated into a Technical Fiber “waterfall” that covers the Ghost’s champagne cooler located between the rear seats.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Under the Hood
Black Badge is more than simply dark trim — every Black Badge variant possesses a special performance profile as well. Powering the Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost is the luxury marque’s 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine, with output increased over the standard Ghost to produce 591 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. Power gets sent to all four wheels via a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Black Badge Performance
A “typical” Rolls-Royce Ghost already comes with all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and a brilliant Planar Suspension System that delivers what Rolls calls a “Magic Carpet Ride.” All these elements have been reengineered for the Black Badge with added performance in mind, including the addition of larger air springs that alleviate body roll during spirited driving.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Selecting Low Mode
Rolls-Royces don’t typically have a Sport mode; however, a button on the gear selector of the Black Badge Ghost labeled Low fits the bill. Selecting Low mode first opens baffles in the new exhaust system, providing a throaty rumble from the powerful V12 engine that normally remains completely quiet. The transmission shift speeds are increased 50 percent when the throttle is above 90 percent, drawing on abundant levels of available torque. Braking “bite point” has been raised, while pedal travel lessened so braking power is available more quickly.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience On the Road
Rolls-Royce recently invited us to Miami Beach — not only to be one of the first to witness the Black Badge Ghost, but also to spend a short time behind the wheel. Set in Low mode, the Ghost has strong acceleration accompanied by a pleasing exhaust note. At the same time the car remains perfectly composed, continuing in this state even while stabbing the brakes to haul this big sedan to a halt.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Slalom
To showcase the Black Badge Ghost’s improved suspension, Rolls-Royce reps had attendees test the car’s cornering abilities by running a slalom course under hard acceleration. Amazingly, the result was what we’d expect from a sports car — not a sedan that weighs close to three tons. Steering is spot-on and the Black Badge Ghost tracks practically perfectly without pushing or even squealing the tires. Although we would never characterize the Black Badge Ghost as a track car, it would be fun to test its limits under controlled conditions at high speed.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience City Driving
Driving through Miami traffic in the Black Badge Ghost showcased this amazing new vehicle’s multiple personalities. Cruising at highway speeds, the ride is solid and quiet — almost sublime in its smoothness. That said, stabbing the accelerator to jump ahead of slower vehicles easily rouses the Ghost with speeds growing quickly and easily. Later when stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, we relaxed in serene surroundings with gentle music wafting from the high-end audio system while also enjoying an activating massage.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Chauffeur Driven
Later that evening, Rolls-Royce provided a driver who took us to dinner so we could experience the Black Badge Ghost from the rear seat. Seating areas are exceptionally comfortable with pillowed head restraints, reclining functions and lambswool floormats. Pressing a button on the front seatback opens a table and video screen that can be used to follow the car’s navigation or other functions. As much as we enjoyed driving the Black Badge Ghost, we have to admit riding in back took the experience to another level.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Right For You?
With a price that easily exceeds $400,000, clearly the Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost will have a particularly well-heeled — make that well-wheeled — clientele. For those who do have the means, the Black Badge Ghost delivers the utmost in luxury and exclusivity with extreme, velvet-smooth performance all wrapped in an elegant — but slightly sinister — package. As the ultimate experience for driver or passenger, the Black Badge Ghost is truly in a class of its own.

© Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Rating: 9.0
Pros: Impressive performance; ultra-luxury; enticingly sinister looks.
Cons: Very expensive. Did we mention it is expensive?
Bottom Line: With the new Black Badge variant, the luxurious Rolls-Royce Ghost gets a new level of performance and dark styling, equally fitting for the enthusiastic driver or pampered rear-seat passenger.

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