Rolls-Royce Paint it Black

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
The rockstar makeover of the phenomenal Wraith and Ghost

Whether or not you agree with the Rolls-Royce assurance that theirs are the finest cars in the world, it’s hard not to be impressed by them. We’d go so far as to say it’s impossible once you’ve driven one. Ghost, Wraith or Phantom, whichever you happen to find yourself in, they all offer a level of luxury worthy of an oligarch.

But therein lies the one possible flaw in Rolls-Royce’s perfectly polished armour. There’s a certain kind of person associated with the marque, to the point where you invariably expect a bespoke suit and touch of grey hair behind the wheel. Sure, that synonymy exists for a reason, but like any stereotype it’s only true to a point.

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Either way that old world luxury image is one Rolls-Royce are hoping to shift. Not by compromise of course – that would cause nothing but well-penned letters of outrage – but by elevating their flagship cars to new levels of ghostly excellence. The result is the Rolls-Royce Black Badge.

Until you see the revamped Ghost and Wraith, it’s all too tempting to assume that a blacked-out Rolls-Royce would look like something driven by a successful and unusually sophisticated drug dealer. Fair enough it’s not exactly subtle, but the heads that turn are more likely to belong on the shoulders of the social elite rather than narcotics police.

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To simply call the new paint job black is to do it a disservice. It’s not just any black; it’s the blackest black that’s ever blacked. In all seriousness, it’s the darkest hue to ever make its presence felt on a production car. While most blacks on closer inspection could more fittingly be called very dark grey or navy, the Black Badge seems to drink in light like a singularity. 

Generally most marques would try to lighten the palette with a bit of contrast, with trimmings in shining metal bright against the black. Not so Rolls-Royce. When they do something, they roll with it at 200mph, and even the chrome of the Black Badge has been darkened to a more subdued, almost sinister sheen. That includes the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy – no longer the Silver Lady you know.

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Not that it’s all about colour. Granted the carbon fibre wheels aren’t exactly bright, but their uniquely sculpted, structural design makes them stand out as a star element. As much effort seems to have gone into them as any other part of the car, illustrating that the Black Badge is so much more than a colour change; it’s a change of attitude.

The makeover goes further than the light-quenching silhouette; the inside has undergone a vast personality makeover too. Gone are the exquisite wooden veneers, shining chrome and tastefully neutral upholstery. Luxurious though they were, they did evoke old school gentleman’s clubs – not exactly for the younger audience.

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Instead they’ve been replaced by carbon fibre threaded with aluminium and blackened metalwork on the dashboard for a more technical look, the neutral tones swapped for either not-so-deep purple edging to mauve or an unusual mid blue hue. Not only is the brightness a stark contrast with the black, but it’s unusual for any Rolls-Royce to use a colour quite so… well, modern.

Indeed, that’s pretty much the point of this aesthetic overhaul. What better way to entice a younger driver than to create the very antithesis of an archetypal Rolls-Royce. Sure, you could always have opted for a bespoke version form the marque but, even if money is no object, this kind of design isn’t something that would have even crossed many minds. Until now you went to Rolls-Royce if you wanted that kind of traditionalism; now there are all kinds of possibilities.

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Of course, for the £220,000 approximate starting price for either of the Black Badge editions, you’d want a little more than a change of style. Never fear however; a more powerful look requires an engine to match – an increase of 40 horsepower for the Ghost to be exact.

This power is pressed to the road with a tweaked transmission which negates the usual Rolls-Royce easy listening Jazz-level smoothness for a more intense sense of urgency. Gears are held for far longer, giving longer periods where you can hear and feel the rev counter climbing for that added evocation of power, while downshifting when accelerating is far easier. Essentially, it helps you announce your vehicular presence like never before.

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The final entry into the suite of changes is the brake pads, which have been thickened by a full inch and enhanced so that those extra 40 horses can be reined in with ease. They’re all subtle changes, but they add up to a substantially different driving experience than any Rolls-Royce before, transforming confident, comfortable sophistication for a flare of adrenaline.

Rolls-Royce will never be the marque for wealthy 20-somethings, even in the new Black Badge editions, but the marque has definitely made a statement. Yes they are a favourite of well-heeled aristocrats of a certain age, but at the same time can be relevant to a more modern kind of driver. And let’s be honest, just look at the new versions of the Ghost and Wraith; they’re absolutely beautiful.

To make an enquiry about the Rolls-Royce Black Badge editions, CLICK HERE.

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