To meet the demands of its younger clients, Rolls-Royce introduced the Black Badge concept – dubbed Rolls-Royce’s alter ego – in 2016. It offers exclusive new colour palettes, technical surface treatments and a more powerful driving experience, while staying true to the effortless sensibilities that drew the younger clients to the Rolls-Royce brand in the first place. The concept, which debuted with Wraith and Series II Ghost, now represents more than 27% of the marque’s commissions worldwide.
In the twelve months since the Gen2 Ghost has been available, it has become one of the fastest-selling products in the marque’s history, representing more than 3,500 commissions worldwide. In October, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce CEO, presented the Black Badge variant of the new Ghost, Saying: “today, we announce a product that represents a new kind of Black Badge motor car, one that seizes on the minimalist, Post Opulent design treatment that has recast the legend of Ghost but amplifies and subverts it with the application of black.”
As with all Rolls-Royce models, the list of innovation and customisation options on the new Black Badge Ghost is quite extensive. Here we present some of the highlights, starting with the interior.
The Lemniscate symbol, representative of the Black badge models, finds expression in strategic locations. The Illuminated Fascia has a glowing Lemniscate amidst the 850-plus “stars.” Featuring more than 90,000 laser-etched dots across the surface, the stars are illuminated via LEDs that are colour-matched to the cabin’s clock and instrument dial lighting.
If requested, a Lemniscate may also appear on the lid of the Champagne cooler. The symbol, rendered in aerospace-grade aluminium, is applied between the third and fourth layer of a total of six layers of subtly tinted lacquer, creating the illusion that the symbol is floating above the Technical Fibre veneer.
The minimalist clock has a subdued chrome finish only on the tips of the hands and the twelve, three, six and nine o’clock markers. Air vents are darkened using physical vapour deposition, a method of colouring metal that ensures parts will not discolour or tarnish over time.
A complex but subtle weave has been crafted, incorporating a deep diamond pattern rendered in carbon and metallic fibres. Multiple wood layers are pressed onto the component’s substrates, using black Bolivar veneer for the uppermost base layer. This forms a dark foundation for the Technical Fibre layers that follow. Leaves woven from resin-coated carbon and contrasting metal-coated thread laid in a diamond pattern are applied by hand to create a three-dimensional effect.
Although clients have the choice of selecting one of the marque’s catalogue of 44,000 exterior colours or creating a bespoke hue, the “overwhelming majority” of them request the signature black. The process of creating the high-gloss piano finish takes between three to five hours. Some 45kilograms of atomised paint is applied to an electrostatically charged body. After it is oven-dried, two layers of clear coat are applied before being hand-polished. The deep-black hue becomes a high-contrast background to the hand-painted Coachline, resulting in the Black Badge’s signature ‘black and neon’ aesthetic.
A dark hue chrome replaces the standard mirror chrome on the Spirit of Ecstasy and Pantheon Grille. This is achieved by introducing an electrolyte to the traditional chrome plating process, which is co-deposited on the stainless-steel substrate. The components are then polished by hand to achieve the mirror-black chrome finish.
A 21-inch composite wheelset has been designed excursively for Black Badge Ghost. The barrel of each wheel is made up of 22 layers of carbon fibre laid on three axes. They are then folded back on themselves at the outer edges of the rim, forming a total of 44 layers of carbon fibre for greater strength. A 3D-forged aluminium hub is bonded to the rim using aerospace-grade titanium fasteners. It is finished with the Floating Hubcap – which ensures the Double R monogram remains upright at all times. A lightly tinted lacquer is applied to protect the finish.
As with the standard Ghost, the Black Badge variant comes equipped with all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and the award-winning Planar Suspension system. However, these and other performance-related systems have been re-engineered to handle the enhanced performance metrics.
Rolls-Royce’s twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V12 engine in the Black Badge Ghost generates an extra 29PS, for a total output of 600PS. Torque has increased by an extra 50NM, for a total of 900NM, all of which is available from just 1700rpm.
More voluminous air springs have been fitted to alleviate body roll under more assertive cornering. The braking bite point has been raised, and pedal travel decreased. A new suite of bold high-temperature brake calliper paint colours has been developed in preparation for forthcoming Black Badge Ghost commissions.
As with all products in the marque’s Black Badge portfolio, the ‘Low’ button, situated on the gear selection, stalk unlocks its full suite of technologies. The gearshift speeds are increased by 50 per cent when the throttle is depressed to 90 per cent, delivering Black Badge Ghost’s abundant power reserves “with dramatic immediacy.” An entirely new exhaust system subtly amplifies the car’s engine sound.
Like the Gen2 Ghost, the new Black Badge is expected to be a significant milestone in Rolls-Royce’s lineup. Müller-Ötvös went so far as to declare it “the purest Black Badge motor car in the marque’s history.”