Strength and sophistication combine in Rolls-Royce’s newest offering, the Black Badge Ghost.

BY STEPHEN CORBY

WHEN ROLLS-ROYCE ANNOUNCED the upcoming release of the Black Badge version of the Ghost, one wondered what it would entail. A mere makeover in a dark palette? Or would Rolls push the boundaries with a redesign so extreme it barely resembled a car? The press release was typically ambiguous, describing a vehicle built for “customers whose desire for luxury is bold and nonconformist” (read: younger than your average Rolls-Royce buyer) and “who have created new codes of luxury that resonate with their sensibilities: darker in aesthetic, assertive in character and bold in design”.

Thankfully, the Black Badge Ghost is neither a superficial facelift, nor is it a complete rethink of the Rolls-Royce driving experience. Instead, it’s a thoughtful and innovative take on an already wondrous classic, with style and sophistication in spades. And it’s fast: the Ghost’s twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre Vl2 engine has been tweaked to produce an extra 2lkW and 50Nm, for a total of 44 lkW of power and 900Nm of torque. Even in a car that weighs 2,490 kilograms, that’s a lot of 00mph, and it will shift you, in serene silence and otiose opulence, from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in 4.7 seconds.

It’s hard to imagine why you’d ever be in a hurry to get anywhere in this Rolls-Royce, though, because it’s just so decadent and serene inside. The plush lamb’s wool foot mats beg you to remove your shoes. The rear-seat Champagne fridge, complete with chilled flutes, calls for a celebratory toast each time you slide into the leather seats (available in a range of eye-popping colours). The stereo – a special Bespoke Audio system made by Rolls – is so ear-thrillingly good you’ll want to sprawl across the vast rear seats and stay there forever.

Then there are the extra touches that will delight your neighbours and send children into fits of giggles, such as the optic-fibre stars that are sewn into the ceiling (shooting stars appear at random moments) and can be brightened or dimmed to suit your mood, the 12-inch television screens and fold-down “picnic tables” in the rear, and the umbrellas secreted in each rear coach door that can be released with the push of a button, James Bond-style.

There’s a lot of fun to be had behind the wheel, too. To understand how a Rolls-Royce differs from other forms of transport, you really need to drive one. The company likens it to a magic carpet ride, and it does have an element of fantasy. The road beneath you seems to disappear as you float, hovercraft like, along your route, propelled by swathes of effortless power. The double-glazed windows mute the world outside, adding to the feeling of exclusivity. The experience brings more than mere happiness; it makes you delighted to be alive.

Such incomparable luxury does not come cheap, however. The Black Badge Ghost starts at $745,000 and with the addition of a few extras (such as the starlight headlining), the price can shoot north of $1 million. For that sum, though, you not only get Rolls-Royce’s refined aesthetic and commitment to the driving experience, you’ll also get a spirited drive unlike any other.