Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge debuts with more power and sinister style
Rolls-Royce loosens up the Ghost's collar with dark design elements and a 563-horsepower V12.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Black Badge models are hugely important to
, making up roughly 30% of the company's sales globally. Rolls-Royce plans to offer darker versions of all its cars -- except the flagship Phantom -- and the latest is the new Ghost Black Badge, which made its debut Thursday at an event in Miami, Florida.
The Ghost Black Badge follows a familiar formula, with a number of noir exterior touches. Both the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and vertical metal grille have a darkened chrome finish, matched with Black Badge-specific 21-inch wheels that look rad on the new Ghost. You don't have to get the Ghost Black Badge with black body panels, of course, but Rolls-Royce says that if you do, you'll be treated to "the motor car industry's darkest black," where 100 pounds(!) of paint is "atomized and applied to an electrostatically charged body in white before being oven dried." It's not dark black; it's a slightly darker black.
On the inside, the Black Badge Ghost has trim pieces made from black Bolivar wood, on top of which a carbon fiber-like pattern called "technical fiber" is laid. The air vents throughout the cabin are darkened using physical vapor deposition, meaning the metal will not discolor or tarnish in the process. The Ghost's standard illuminated dash plate is here, too, with the Black Badge's infinity logo displayed through 152 individual LEDs. It looks great alongside the company's hallmark Starlight Headliner, which is an absolute must-have for any Rolls-Royce.
Much like the exterior, the Ghost's cabin can be done up in all sorts of color schemes. Rolls-Royce says its Black Badge customers do tend to stick with a darker motif, and that they tend to add little pops of color here and there. Rolls-Royce's debut car is a particularly awesome spec, where black leather seating surfaces are accented by teal panels and trim. This sort of vibrant two-tone really works in a cabin as beautifully designed as the Ghost's, and bonus points to Rolls-Royce for fitting matching teal-colored brake calipers, too.
Beyond the design details, Black Badge cars have a number of small engineering tweaks that make them more entertaining to drive, without upsetting the lovely wafting characteristic that comes with driving a Rolls-Royce. All-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and Rolls-Royce's Planar suspension system are all here, but new air springs help to reduce body roll while cornering. No, the Black Badge isn't a sports sedan, but it's a little lighter on its feet than the standard Ghost sedan. Stay tuned for actual first-drive impressions in an article in the not-too-distant future.
The powertrain updates are slightly more substantial, even though the Black Badge uses the same basic components as the normal Ghost. ("The capacity of the Rolls-Royce twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V12 engine was deemed sufficient," per the company's opulent press release.) Output increases from 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque in the base Ghost to 591 hp and 664 lb-ft in the Black Badge. This allows the 5,490-pound behemoth to accelerate to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds -- only 0.1 seconds quicker than the regular Ghost -- on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Every Black Badge has a secret weapon of sorts: the Low button on the gear selector. This is essentially how you unlock a sport mode; the throttle response improves and the eight-speed automatic transmission has snappier action. This turns the Ghost Black Badge into a car that can really hustle, and since Rolls-Royce says about 80% of Ghost owners actually drive their cars rather than being driven, this added focus on behind-the-wheel excitement is great.
Rolls-Royce will offer the Black Badge treatment on both the standard- and long-wheelbase versions of the Ghost, and if you want one, the company will happily take your order now. At $395,000 including destination, the Black Badge is around $62,000 more expensive than the standard Ghost, not that affordability really matters with a car like this. For these folks, it's all about style, and the new Ghost Black Badge certainly has that in spades.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge has an ethereal edge