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First Drive: The New Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge

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Forty percent of current Rolls-Royce Cullinan luxury SUVs are now ordered as Black Badge models, but the new Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge might take the lead in the future. Just a few days ago, the British luxury maker unveiled their second generation Ghost Black Badge, described as a “darker, menacing image of Rolls-Royce, that alter ego.” To immerse ourselves in the land of the rich, Rolls-Royce invited us to Miami, Florida to spend some time with the stunning Ghost.

44,000 Paint Choices

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Contrary to popular belief, the Black Badge name doesn’t imply an all-black Ghost. But instead, carefully picked design accents and plethora of engineering upgrades, are what drives the Black Badge name. The Spirit of Ecstasy and grille are coated with a special chrome electrolyte and polished by hand to create a black chrome finish. They are matched with Black Badge-specific 21 inch wheels made with up to 44 layers of carbon fiber for maximum strength. For the same reason, the wheels boast a 3D-forged aluminum hub and even aerospace-grade titanium fasteners. Rounding off the wheel finish is a lightly tinted lacquer to protect the precious carbon fiber.

Carbon Fiber Trim And More

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Inside, the trim is made from black Bolivar wood along with special air vent surrounds that have been darkened through physical vapor deposition. Even the watch adorning the dashboard has been discreetly modified for the new version to give it a minimalistic look with a chrome finish. There is also a carbon fiber-like pattern 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 featuring what Rolls-Royce refers to as the darkest black in the car industry. 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of paint are used to cover the sedan’s sumptuous body before applying two layers of clear coat. The last step is to hand-polish it for a glossy piano finish during a process that requires a team of four people. If the blackest black is not your cup of tea, the Goodwood-based elite marque has no fewer than 44,000 paint choices at the customer’s disposal.

Photo by James Lipman for Rolls-Royce

The engineering side of things adds to the mystique of the Black Badge models. The power output increases from 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque in the regular Ghost to 591 hp and 664 lb-ft in the Black Badge Ghost. Rolls-Royce revised some of the mechanicals by decreasing the pedal travel and raising the braking bite point. Thanks to the Low Mode, the gearshift speeds are increased by 50% when the throttle is depressed to 90%. A completely new exhaust system has been developed to let everyone know in a subtle way the 6.75-liter unit has been fine-tuned for greater power.

A Darker Alter Ego

Owning a Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge is a lifestyle and the performance side of things is not what drives a Black Badge owner. Yet, to sample the technical improvements in the new Ghost Black Badge, Rolls-Royce rented a closed course in Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park for some sprints and high-speed maneuvers. Florida police officers are on-site to wave us through for our 0-62 mph runs. The nearly 6,000 lbs luxury vehicle effortless sprints to top speeds, thanks to a smooth power delivery coming from the marvelous V12 engine. No drag racing GPS boxes were used in this experiment, but according to Rolls-Royce’s stats, the new Ghost Black Badge reaches 60 mph from standstill in about 4.5 seconds. And it certainly feels extremely fast in straight lines.

When you factor in the new Low Mode as well, the Ghost Black Badge is even sharper, unleashing the full torque at only 1,700 rpms. The 8-speed automatic is even more precise now while being extremely smooth on shifting. Despite the car’s massive mass, the high-speed maneuvering exercise highlights its agility, even when reaching 50-60 mph and pulling hard left and right on that steering wheel. Of course, the active anti-roll bars, all-wheel drive system and four-steering system come to 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 the beautiful South Beach and Miami’s Artist District will turn a lot of heads. Especially since our car was painted in all black with a subtle red stripe running across its sides. The sumptuous and refined cabin is what you’d expect from a Rolls. And it never fails to deliver. The  Shooting Star Starlight Headliner lights up the cabin in typical Rolls-Royce style, while the 1300-watt hi-fi audio system delights us with some hip music. The carbon fiber veneer is exquisite and the pillowy ride makes for a pleasant journey. Even in a stop-and-go traffic.

The night ends with the typical experience of a Rolls-Royce customer: a trip to Miami Beach for fine-dining at a sold out restaurant. And of course, the trip back to the hotel is experienced from the back seat with a personal chauffeur behind the wheel. For one day, I lived like a Rolls-Royce customer would live every day.

 

 


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