In the five years since Rolls-Royce introduced the Black Badge series, it has become a huge hit: More than a quarter of buyers now ask for Roller’s factory murdered-out treatment. Exclusive as the brand may be, Rolls-Royce knows it needs to give the public what they want, and so the new-for-2021 Ghost is the latest model getting the Black Badge treatment in 2022.
While this does evoke a minimum of cynicism in us—every time we read a Rolls press release in which the upper-crust brand touts a reluctant-but-gleeful embracing of its “dark side,” we think of Anything Goes’ Lord Evelyn Oakleigh singing The Gypsy In Me (“I’ve never told this to anybody before, Miss Sweeney—it’s the Oakleigh family secret—there’s something dark and savage in our blood…”)—but there really is more to the Ghost Black Badge than some dusky chrome bits. Plenty of those, mind you, but the Ghost will also get a boost in performance that should make it quite a bit more rewarding to drive.
First and foremost is a power bump for the twin-turbo 6.6-liter V-12. Horsepower rises from 563 to 592, and torque from 627 lb-ft to 664, and the throttle and transmission response have been remapped. The Ghost’s eight-speed ZF transmission does not provide for manual gear selection—after all, we’re not savages!—but on the Black Badge Ghost, pressing the Low button on the shifter amplifies the exhaust and speeds up shifts when the throttle is pushed to 9/10ths of its travel. And speaking of pedal travel, the brakes have been retuned for less pedal travel and a higher bite point.
Rolls-Royce was rather economical with details on the suspension changes (presumably we’ll learn more when we drive the car next month), but the company does say that its engineers have retuned the chassis and increased the volume of the air springs to quell body roll. We’ve noted in the past that the Ghost is somewhat less athletic than its less-expensive rival, the Bentley Flying Spur, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Ghost can close that gap while maintaining the brand’s legendary serenity.
And what of the styling changes? As the name implies—and as the pictures show—the Ghost’s prominent grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament get a special dusky-chrome treatment. The wheels, unique to the Black Badge cars, are a lightweight composite construction with 44 layers of carbon fiber (technically 22 layers folded back on themselves) and forged aluminum hubs, protected by a tinted lacquer that shows the carbon-fiber weave.
Funnily enough, one thing that isn’t included in the Black Badge package is black paint; instead, buyers can choose from any one of the 44,000 (!) colors in Rolls’ palette, or create their own custom hue. If they do opt for black paint, they’ll get a lot of it: Rolls-Royce has developed a process that involves applying one hundred pounds of paint to the electrostatically-charged body, followed by two layers of clear coat and a hand-polished finish, all to create what the brand calls “the motor car industry’s darkest black.”
Rolls-Royce is all about trimming its cars interiors to its customers wishes, so there’s no one look or color for the interior. There are, of course, some distinctive Black Badge touches, including unique trim paneling based on black Bolivar wood with a diamond pattern made from carbon fiber and metal-coated thread. Forget our description and look at the pictures—it’s really something. The interior chrome trim is darkened, as is the analog clock. The star-scapes on the passenger-side dash and headliner—features at which we still marvel—remain, complete with shooting-star effects on ceiling.