The Black Badge moniker joined the Rolls-Royce lineup in 2016, first atop the Wraith coupe, followed by the Dawn convertible and Cullinan SUV, then with the last generation Ghost saloon. It’s five years later and the Black Badge trim is still proving hugely prosperous for the company; Rolls-Royce says that 27 percent of the vehicles it sells worldwide are now Black Badge models.
With that success in mind, the new and much-improved Ghost is the latest car to get the more sinister treatment. This is the 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge, and it builds on the success of Black Badge models before it by adding more power, enhanced styling, and as we found out firsthand in a brief drive along the beach, improved dynamics.
Powering the Ghost Black Badge is the same twin-turbocharged 6.8-litre V12 as in the base model. But now that engine delivers 591 horsepower (435 kilowatts) and 664 pound-feet (900 newton-metres), an improvement of 29 bhp and 37 lb-ft over the base Ghost. It's paired to a reworked ZF eight-speed automatic with a "Low" mode – the Rolls equivalent of Sport – which applies power up to 50 percent quicker and is exclusive to all Black Badge models.
We got behind the wheel of the new Ghost Black Badge briefly – don't worry, a full first drive is coming later next month – and hustled the hefty saloon down a makeshift “drag strip” adjacent to Miami Beach. The power improvements were immediately noticeable; low-end torque was more plentiful, and it's available now at just 1,900 RPM. The engine made a slightly more aggressive sound, too, thanks to the upgraded exhaust, and there was a noticeable difference in low-end power application.
The Ghost Black Badge felt a bit better dynamically, as well. Engineers tweaked the suspension to help reduce body roll and made the steering heftier to help with responsiveness. We flung the four-door around an empty car park near the beach and the Ghost Black Badge displayed more composure and better agility than its non-Black Badge base brethren. We'd go so far as to call it "sporty," although Rolls-Royce probably wouldn't use that terminology.
Initial impressions suggest the Black Badge variant doesn't stray far from the standard Ghost in terms of looks. But peer closer and there are a few key components that help this version stand out. The high-spoke 21-inch wheels are an aggressive accoutrements, featuring a carbon-fibre barrel that consists of 22 layers of carbon. The illuminated front grille from the standard Ghost carries over too, with 152 LED lights illuminating the vertical slats.
Atop the stunning sheet metal is a new deep black hue that Rolls-Royce says is the darkest in the entire industry. It starts with 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of paint, which the company atomises before applying (twice) to the car, and hand-polishing thoroughly. This process takes three to five hours to complete by hand and results in that impressive depth.
Other than pure black, buyers can customise the exterior of their Ghost Black Badge with up to 44,000 different shades – counting two-tone paints, of course. And as with all Black Badge models before it, Rolls-Royce has darkened all the exterior badges, from the Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet to the double 'R' monogram in the rear.
The shooting star headliner is still the star of the interior, but the Black Badge model swaps the illuminated "Ghost" motif on the passenger-side dash for a Black Badge infinity logo instead. And there are infinity logos on the sill plates and headrests, too. As with any Ghost, the colour combo of the seats is fully customisable in a few hundred different ways.
The price? That's not important. Just know that the standard Rolls-Royce Ghost starts at £250,000, so expect the Black Badge model to be a bit pricier. Buyers interested in taking home a brand-new Ghost Black Badge can begin commissioning their cars starting today.