Rolls-Royce Ghost black badge review: a Rolls With Attitude

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The needle quickly sweeps the 100 mph marker. Each automated gear change briefly cuts off the ignition before engaging the next cog with a noticeable and deliberate push to the rear. “Shift shock,” calls it the car’s chaperone.

Three-digit speed quickly noticed, 120 then 130 arrive in rapid succession as a vast 900 Newton Meters of torque is forced into the asphalt. With my right foot still buried in the carpet, the track lights passing through my peripheral vision turn from green to red, a “brake!” the instruction comes from the passenger seat. I step into the left pedal, brake firmly to bring 5600 pounds back to pace, before turning around, stopping and pushing the accelerator for free.

A lowering of the double-glazed window allows for an unusual buzz and even a passing volley from the all-new exhaust system. Whatever we do on a rural Oxfordshire track, with a rainy October night of secret test drives ahead of us, it definitely looks like a Rolls-Royce.

But that’s precisely the purpose of the latest second-gen Ghost. A car arrived in 2020 and asking its customers to park their opulence by the side of the road. It was the dawn of “post-opulance” design, said Rolls-Royce, famous for its chrome Pantheon grilles, illuminated Spirit of Ecstacy and unabashed luxury.

The new Black Badge Ghost takes the brand in a new direction. Or rather, it legitimizes a direction that Rolls customers, younger and more trendy than ever, have taken their vehicles for several years already. It’s Rolls-Royce with attitude; Rolls-Royce with a new manifesto to share with customers she knows is changing.

It’s also a younger clientele than ever, with the average Rolls buyer now around 42 years old. The company says, “In the 2020s, these women and men engage in luxury goods on their own terms. They reject costumes for streetwear, use blockchain not banking, and influence the analog world through their digital efforts.

The company responded by offering more color options (44,000, plus the ability to go tailor-made) and technical surface treatments, catering to those who want carbon as well as those who still expect wood. and leather. And he seems to have properly assessed the evolution of customer expectations; Black Badge vehicles now represent 27% of global sales.

After racing at high speed and demonstrating the muscular new exhaust note, the driver of the car asks me to roll along the track again, but this time winds between its center dotted line, first to 40 mph then at 70 mph. The result is a demonstration of how the Black Badge Ghost adjusts its driving based on driver enthusiasm.

Smooth lane changes are complemented by the usual magic carpet ride that Rolls owners are familiar with, while more assertive entrances see the suspension firm up, making good use of the Black Badge’s larger air springs to fight better. against the roll. God forbid, call it a “sport mode”, but the idea here is obvious; the Ghost Black badge may lack selectable drive modes, but they’re there, ready to deploy automatically when called upon.

Riding a Rolls-Royce on a closed track might not even be close to what an owner ever does with theirs, but it clearly shows how dynamically the Ghost Black Badge differs from its chrome sibling.

Aesthetically, they also stand out. As with Dawn, Wraith and Cullinan members of the Black Badge family, the Ghost has its exterior chrome turned shiny black and is decorated inside and outside with the lemniscate graphic which depicts Black Badge and also appeared on the record. speed on the water Blue Bird K3. Sir Malcolm Campbell’s boat.

By the way, that black grille isn’t just painted. Of course not. I’ll let Rolls-Royce explain this one. “Instead of just painting these components, a specific chromium electrolyte is fed into the traditional chrome plating process which is co-deposited onto the stainless steel substrate, darkening the finish. Its final thickness is only a micrometer, or about a hundredth of the width of a human hair.

A set of 21 inch wheels with carbon details is also unique to the Black Badge. Under the expansive hood is the 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12, modestly tuned to produce an additional 29PS (bringing the total to a nice round 600PS), while torque increases from 50Nm to an equally robust 900Nm. Although there is no sport mode, the “Low” button, found on all Black Badge models, reduces shift time by 50% when the accelerator is pressed by 90% or more, as well as an ignition cut between shifts and the ‘shift-shock’ mentioned earlier.

Leaving the trail behind, I follow a route already anchored in the Ghost’s navigation system, winding through the Cotswolds. Low mode off, the car returns to deliver the quiet, smooth and effortless ride Rolls-Royce has set the standard for since BMW’s takeover in 1998.

While the larger Phantom is a car to drive, a typical Ghost owner is likely to split their time between the front and back seats equally. Sitting in the front, driving in a Ghost seems perfectly normal; sure it’s a big car, but not so overwhelming that driving along country roads is too difficult. As on all current Rolls-Royces, the calm one feels in the Ghost encourages the driver to progress as smoothly as possible. It’s reassuring to know that the Black Badge is designed for a more dynamic ride if you want it, adding a new facet to its character, but for the most part you’ll glide in comfort and silence. Although with a darker and more stealthy demeanor than in a regular Ghost.

This being a Rolls-Royce launch event, the experience of the car from the back seats is as important as the driving itself. With this we arrive at our destination and are greeted by a driver who will drive us to London for the evening. Like a Rolls-Royce, we’re invited to pull out a bottle of something French and bubbly from the fridge, recline the seats, and enjoy the Ghost from the passenger’s point of view.

Despite being the smallest and dare I say the most affordable Rolls in the current lineup, the Ghost still feels like an utterly luxurious place. There is ample legroom, deep carpets, comfortable seats, and the car’s feeling of shielding you from the hustle and bustle of the night outside. This is where the novelties of Rolls-Royce ownership are concentrated. Silky ride quality, silence, RR branded glassware, and shooting star trim catch your eye as the LEDs traverse the man-made constellation above your head. It’s an environment that cannot be confused with any other on the road today, and I have no doubt that owners think it’s worth every penny, no matter which seat they choose.

Being a Black Badge, the interior of this car is as stealthy as it gets. The dashboard and other elements feature a carbon-like pattern the company calls engineering fiber, incorporating multiple layers of wood, black bolivar veneer, and sheets woven from resin-coated carbon and metal-coated wires. contrasting. Details that would be chrome in an ordinary Ghost, like the air vents, are darkened using “physical vapor deposition,” which Rolls says is one of the few methods of coloring metal. which ensures that it will not fade or tarnish over time. As always, it’s the attention to detail that makes such a car stand out.

We arrive in London under cover of darkness – there are still two weeks until the Black Badge is announced – and set off for a late night dinner. Thinking back to my time with the Ghost Black Badge, it’s the breadth of character that impresses the most. The ordinary ghost was already a known entity; a Rolls with a size (and a price) more manageable than a Phantom, but which impresses in the same way.

The Ghost Black Badge then adds dynamic performance to the mix, and while the technical changes are minimal – the extra 29PS surely goes unnoticed – there is enough of it to give more depth to the car’s character. There’s an attitude here, the feeling that when the Ghost is done being a luxury limo for the day, it can exchange a knowing glance with its driver, engage Low mode, and have fun.


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