High fashion: behind the wheel of the Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost

By Peter Malmstrom | 26 Jan 2022 | Design, Speed

Tempus hits the road to find out why burnout grey is the new black

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Much secrecy surrounded the launch of the new Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Black Badge Ghost. Press embargoes and NDAs were in abundance when I first saw the car on static display in a Wimbledon design studio in September. The car looked stunning in every respect, imbued with thought, abundant in every tiny detail.

While Tempus had previously reviewed the impressive new Rolls-Royce Ghost back in January, the new Black Badge Ghost looked significantly more aggressive and purposeful, with its dark electrolyte chrome detailing and 21-inch carbon alloy composite wheels. The barrel of each wheel is made up of carbon fibre and a 3D-forged aluminium hub bonded to the rim using aerospace-grade titanium. The wheels alone stretch carbon fibre and forged aluminium engineering boundaries to the limit, exploring the art of the aesthetic and the possible, while retaining the now-familiar Rolls-Royce Floating Hubcap, ensuring the Double R monogram remains upright at all times.

Careful observation shows the almost black on black hand-painted coachline, so subtle as to be almost invisible but adding to the lustrous detail that comes together to define Ghost’s dark alter ego.

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Rolls-Royce debuted Black Badge with Wraith in 2016, followed by Dawn in 2017 and then Cullinan in 2019. The Black Badge Ghost is the newest expression of Black Badge to join the family and represents Rolls-Royce’s response to a younger, more fashion-conscious and performance-focused customer demand. No longer the reserve of captains of industry and the chauffeured elite, the Rolls-Royce motor car remains aspirational and relevant to all ages wanting to further enhance the post-opulent aesthetic of the 2021 Ghost.

Now accounting for some 27% of sales globally, the idea for Black Badge was inspired by a trip to Los Angeles. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, was leaving a hotel in Beverly Hills when he spotted a heavily “murdered out” (a Rolls-Royce alternative to the more vulgar colloquialism “pimped out”) Rolls being driven by a successful young owner, and engaged with him to talk about the car. Müller- Ötvös immediately recognised the need for Rolls Royce to respond to this younger more subversive customer demand and, from that moment, a more assertive direction for product styling was established and the official Black Badge programme was born.

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The Black Badge is symbolised by the lemniscate motif – a mathematical symbol that represents potential infinity and seen on the legendary Bluebird K3 hydroplane powerboat commissioned for Sir Malcolm Campbell in 1937. This symbol is illuminated and displayed on the Illuminated Fascia, star cluster dashboard and the polished door tread plates, and continues to codify Black Badge or noir. The interior of this all-black car is just as impressive, with every attention to detail in the finest materials – right down to the cut glass decanters – giving a rich lustre and a beautiful medley of quality in both look and feel across every inch of the cabin.

The new Black Badge Ghost, even static as it was in the studio, promised a lot – with increased torque to 900Nm and additional horsepower taking it to 600bhp to add to the already immense performance of Ghost – so I couldn’t wait for the road test phase of the secret prelaunch build up.

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When the big day eventually came, I was collected late in the afternoon for a drive to a secret location in the wilds of Northamptonshire, shocked to find my arrival was after dark. Arriving at an aerodrome, I was welcomed inside a very large hangar by a reception committee in black suits. Inside was straight out of a James Bond movie, with a black-on-black helicopter and a line of beautifully prepared cars. The scene had a menace of cinematic villainy – the only things missing were ninjas abseiling from the ceiling. This was all about the subversive persona of the new addition to the Rolls-Royce Black Badge family.

I quickly found that the runway had been secured to put the new Black Badge Ghost through its paces. Had anyone ever told me Rolls- Royce themselves would be asking me to hurl a brand-new motor car down an illuminated runway flat out, in the dead of night, to return in a series of high- and low-speed weaving turns to demonstrate the car’s unbelievable stability, I might have thought them mad – yet here we were.

This particular car, the embodiment of the new and youthful styling, has been crafted incorporating a high fashion sense with every detail fusing into elegant harmony. The exterior finish is in ‘Burnout Grey’, alluding to the tyre smoke that would have been abundant, had this huge 6.75-litre twin turbocharged V12 not have been properly harnessed by some very impressive electronics. A purple coachline complements the grey in this contemporary urban Ghost. The interior accents and contrast stitching in Tailored Purple, all brought together under the legendary shooting starlight headliner.

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It was clear why Rolls-Royce wanted to show this car off at night: detail lighting from the interior merged with the electric lighting of the city as we drove back into the London metropolis. The luxury and understated power fused with the meticulously designed cabin lighting and contemporary styling, which gave the whole experience an urban feel, was complemented by the music playing through the Bespoke Audio System as we drove through London to our final destination – where else, but the Black Rooms at the Mandrake Hotel.

It is easy to see how Rolls-Royce has captured the imagination of a younger demographic and delivered a series of cars that meet and exceed all expectations. My detailed understanding of the level of technical excellence built into the new Black Badge Ghost makes it a joy to both drive and be driven in.

However, it is not perhaps how this car feels, but how this car makes you feel that is the key. This Ghost, combined with a night-time urban setting, makes me feel youthful and energised, and it is no surprise that the Black Badge range goes from strength to strength in the journey of this iconic luxury car manufacturer.

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