Rolls-Royce has an answer to Bentley’s Beluga Edition and it is called the Black Badge. The company has built two Black Badge models for this summer’s car show circuit: one based on the Ghost; the other based on the Wraith. Both cars are performance enhanced versions of the existing models. The package gives the cars more power (not equally as you’ll discover), better brakes and are finished in sinister dark tones.
Rolls-Royce PR says the Black Badge is for their most demanding and driven customer. “Technically and aesthetically, Black Badge is the alter ego of Rolls-Royce, darker, more assertive, more confident and powerful, and more demanding. With Black Badge we have created the most commanding presence on the super-luxury landscape. It is a truly transformative moment for our great brand,” said Rolls-Royce’s CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös.
Both the Wraith Black Badge and the Ghost Black Badge receive similar aesthetic treatment starting with the badge on the front grill. The Double R badge is inverse from the standard insignia, becoming silver text on a black background. The rest of the exterior’s chrome treatments are finished in a dark, gloss black finish including the grille surround, lower air inlet, trunk lid trim and exhaust pipes. Of course, even the Flying Lady mascot has been colored a gloss black.
Rolls-Royce did something very interesting with the wheels for the Black Badge. The rims are composed of 22 layers of carbon fiber laid in three axes and folded back upon themselves to create 44 layers of strength. An aluminum hub is bonded to the carbon rim using aerospace strength titanium fasteners. Rolls says they spent four years perfecting the manufacturing process.
The show cars were finished in a beautiful but simple, solid black color. Before hand polishing, the finish was built up with multiple layers of paint and lacquer creating a deep, intense black color. Although the cars look great in black, customers can specify any color they wish.
Unsurprisingly the black theme continues inside the Black Badge cars. The dash panel is made of “aluminum-threaded carbon fibre,” which is made by weaving aircraft grade aluminum with the carbon fibers before bonding it all together. The finished carbon fiber is then finished with six coats of lacquer. After 72 hours of curing time, it is hand-polished to a gloss finish.
The air vents have been finished with PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) which bonds a tough, black finish to the metal ensuring they won’t discolor over time. This is the same finishing technique that has been used by the watch industry to apply durable colors to watch cases for decades.
Rolls-Royce has brought back the infinity logo that they previously used in 2014 on a special edition called the Phantom Dropped Coupé Waterspeed that was built to honor world speed record holder Sir Malcom Campbell. It is stitched into the leather throughout the cabin of both cars.
The infinity logo is an attempt to appeal to the “limitless traits of the owner.” While the interior and the logo look great in press photos against their bright colors, you have to wonder if they won’t look better in real life with a nice black hide with accented stitching.
The performance category is where the Ghost and the Wraith differ. Both cars receive a bump in power, but the Wraith’s is a little more aggressive.
The Ghost gets a bump of 40 hp and 60Nm. Along with the additional ponies, the Ghost also gets a transmission remap that initiates more aggressive shifting when the throttle is open more than 25%. Think of it like an automatic engagement of a ‘sport’ mode on most other automatic transmissions.
Stay at least a quarter of the way into the throttle and the Ghost Black Badge will hold off changing gears for 200 to 500 more RPMs, depending on what gear the car is currently in. It will also downshift quicker when the driver dips into the accelerator pedal. Lastly, the transmission has been programmed to downshift quicker during braking to add engine braking.
Rolls-Royce says they wanted the Ghost to maintain its “magic carpet ride” so the suspension and steering haven’t been changed, but new driveshafts aid the driving experience.
The Wraith is where it gets more interesting. The coupé’s twin-turbo V12 gets a 50 lb ft bump in torque, insuring the Wraith keeps its title as the most powerful Rolls-Royce made. Engineers went through the entire drivetrain to get the most out of the engine’s output. The eight speed automatic transmission receives the same throttle dependent shifting as the Ghost, though in its own way.
Like the Ghost, when the Wraith Black Badge determines the throttle is open 25%, it holds shifts longer and uses more engine braking. For the Wraith, Rolls-Royce engineers set it up so that when the throttle is in its midrange (70% to 80%), the gear box shifts quicker. If the throttle is above 80% open, the V12 is permitted to rev to 6,000 rpm before it shifts.
By combining an extra wave of torque (+70Nm) with the already existing high power output, a completely redesigned air-suspension set up, new drive shafts and uprated 8-speed transmission, Rolls-Royce has produced an even more driver-focused, agile Wraith, while at the same time preserving the intrinsic elements of the effortless Rolls-Royce Magic Carpet Ride.
The car’s air suspension has been tweaked for a stiffer ride. Combined with programming adjustments to the car’s speed sensitive steering, the suspension gives the car more neutral feel in corners and feels more confident at speed.
For added safety, Rolls increased the diameter of the front brake disks by one inch. Automatic LED headlights are now standard.
The Black Badge edition is now available for order now and as is the case with many new Rolls-Royce, it can be specified in any color you can imagine.