Calling all risk-takers, disruptors and restless spirits…from today, Rolls-Royce has just the car for you. And the clue is in that magnificently moody new take on the Spirit of Ecstasy, the first black ‘flying lady’… or what R-R describes as a ’high-gloss black vamp’.
Launched today at the Geneva Motor Show, the Rolls-Royce Black Badge models introduce some key dynamic changes, to the Wraith in particular, as well as showing a new side of the Goodwood company: an edgy alter ego aimed at the sort of successful but wild free spirits the brand has attracted in the past.
People (says R-R) like Keith Moon, Henry Segrave, Yves Saint Laurent, Muhammed Ali and Malcolm Campbell… and also ‘our own Charles Rolls, all young gentlemen in a hurry… glamorous and daring disruptors who lived life on the edge.’ It is latterday Moons, Segraves and Alis that R-R’s Bespoke division has worked with to create the Black Badge.
Clearly a Black Badge Rolls says more about you than money ever can. But what do these special versions of the Ghost and Wraith that preview the new concept in Geneva this week provide over and above the regular models?
R-R does not use the word ‘sporty’ but both Wraith and Ghost certainly promise to deliver a more dynamic drive, the Wraith in particular. Its air suspension is completely redesigned, in R-R’s words, plus it gets new driveshafts, uprated eight-speed transmission, a new Intuitive Throttle Response system for a more direct performance feel, and uprated steering and brakes. An extra 51 lb ft of torque is squeezed out of the 6.6-litre V12, along with the 623bhp. The result of all this, says R-R, is ‘significantly increased handling capability’.
The Ghost gets a little more power (up 40bhp to 603bhp) and a torque boost along with the sharper throttle response and some of the suspension and steering changes for ‘a little more driver focus’ while keeping the emphasis firmly on luxury ride.
Aesthetically, the Black Badge models are all about creating a mood, and it’s been done sparingly but apparently effectively. Along with the Spirit of Ecstasy, the chrome grille surround, boot lid finisher, exhaust pipes and air inlet all get the dark look, while all the double-R badges on the car change to silver-on-black.
The wheels are a new design of carbon-fibre and alloy and the exterior is finished with a new paint – ‘Black Badge Black’ and according to R-R ‘the deepest, darkest and most intense black ever seen on a production car’. Customers can however have any colour they want.
Inside there is what R-R is billing as the world’s most innovative new super-luxury material. The surfaces are covered by a composite made of threads of aerospace-grade aluminium woven together, bonded together with carbon-fibre, lacquered and polished to a mirror finish. The material has been used before… by stealth fighter planes.
All the changes, including the mechanical upgrade, are unique to the Black Badge models and will not filter through to regular Wraith and Ghost, says the firm.
If Rolls-Royce did such things, which of course it doesn’t, the cars would be rather special special editions. But Black Badge promises to be far more than that: a permanent part of the Rolls-Royce line-up in a move R-R chief Torsten Müller-Ötvös calls a ‘truly transformative moment for the brand.’
Torsten told GRR: ‘Technically and aesthetically Black Badge is the alter ego of Rolls-Royce Wraith and Ghost: darker, more assertive, more confident and powerful, and more demanding. With Black Badge we have created the most powerful presence on the luxury landscape.’