Speeding through the winding townships east of San Diego last week, the silence was deafening. Not because it was silent outside – I highly doubt it was – but because it was totally silent inside the 2022 Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost I was test driving. Whether at 20 miles-per-hour while traversing crowded city streets or at 105 miles-per-hour outside the city (my sincere apologies California Highway Patrol), it is always the internal silence of these elegant driving machines that never cease to amaze me. With the Black Badge Ghost the silence is surpassed only by the intense rich spirit of its discerning dark beauty.
The Rolls-Royce Ghost first made its debut in 2009 and is the brand’s most successful automobile. The Black Badge concept of dark, aesthetically pure minimalism in the super luxury sphere debuted with the Ghost and the Wraite in 2016. It was followed by the Dawn in 2017 and the sports utility love of my life, the Cullinan in 2019, all the while of course maintaining a coda of discreet affluence in these driving dream machines. In 2021 the Ghost underwent a complete overhaul with only the door umbrellas and the signature Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornaments maintained. That recalibration of the classic Ghost was made in response to the changing tastes over the years of Rolls-Royce owners. Owners by and large are younger than their predecessors and American owners mostly drive without chauffeurs. Rolls-Royce deftly answered that call modernizing and boosting the Ghost, part of the “architecture of luxury” platform it shares with the Phantom and the Cullinan.
With the 2022 Black Badge Ghost, Rolls-Royce has taken this concept one step further. Listening to the desires of its younger clientele – the average owner age is now 43 according to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös – Rolls codified and brought to bear the connoisseur mindset of its “post opulent” noir aesthetic philosophy. However, make no mistake, the new Ghost Black Badge is not just about dark, super luxury aesthetics – that include intense black chrome finishes to the hallmark Sprit of Ecstasy adornment and grille – noir “post opulent” or otherwise.
The Black Badge Ghost is the Rolls you desperately desire to drive yourself, whether you have somewhere to go or perhaps especially if you don't. This was the gospel truth with the 2021 Ghost and its 6.75-liter V-12 engine. And it’s even truer now. Although the engine size is the same in the 2022 Black Badge edition, there is simply more to love as this version hands over increased power with 591 ponies and 664 pound-feet of torque under its undeniably sexy hood. So it comes as no surprise that this dashingly dark beauty allows, dare I say insists, that drivers channel their inner aviator and fly from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. Twenty-seven percent of all Rolls-Royce orders are for Black Badge versions says Müller-Ötvö, without doubt enticed by the Black Badge’s more urgent performance in a world where everything seems to be by orders of magnitude more urgent. However, the Badge’s interior truly personifies the design philosophy of the “post opulent” era. Black Bolivar wood veneers, resin-coated carbon in a diamond pattern resulting in an elegant three-dimensional visual experience together with the sparkly starlit headliner makes every night drive festive. Luxurious enveloping leathers add to the driving experience while the illuminated fascia with its underscored infinity lemniscate symbol serve to remind Badge owners of what they already intuitively grasp: the possibilities are in fact endless.
With the Ghost’s base cost at $393,500 and the Black Badge package adding another $43,850 to the tab, your accountant will need to be on board. Immediately following funding of your next tech start-up or corporate deal, perhaps an invitation that he or she will be given a Black Badge ride with chilled champagne will seal the financial deal.
Heading through the hills back towards downtown San Diego around sunset, I was again blown away by the supreme agility of the Black Badge Ghost even when maneuvering extremely tight turns. The all-wheel drive is crisply sharp and reactive. As fiery crimson lit up the sky above the cobalt blue Pacific, it was in complete contrast to the minimalist darkened interior set against the lit fascia, the lemniscate and starlit headliner. In artistic design and automotive bliss coupled with steadfast silence, my own thoughts turned dark as the realization came that soon I would need to alight this most alluring of magic carpet rides. Happy driving!
Written by Julie L. Kessler
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