In its boldest attempt to swoon the young and successful, Rolls-Royce has introduced the Cullinan Black Badge, and it’s every bit as menacing as blacked-out SUVs go. Before we go on, we think you should know that production of the Cullinan has maxed out, and the ultra-luxury automaker is seeing more female and younger buyers come on board.
Now then, onto the black elephant in the room. Discerning customers of the Cullinan Black Badge have up to a staggering 44,000 paint options to choose from, but Rolls-Royce claims that many will opt for the bespoke line’s signature Black colour. The multilayered paintwork is meticulously applied and hand-polished for approximately 10 times, a process which the company says is the most comprehensive surface finish process ever applied to a solid paint colour.
It’s pretty hard to tell from this set of photos, but by the looks of it, nearly every bit of shiny bright chrome has been purged from existence. In their place are high gloss black chrome, which adorn the radiator grille surrounds (the vertical bars remain polished), window surrounds, tailgate trim, exhaust pipes, and The Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. Also, for the first time, the black chrome extends onto the mounting plate, making this the blackest Black Badge yet.
The look is further dramatised by an all-new set of 22-inch forged alloy wheels, one that’s made exclusively for the Black Badge Cullinan. The wheels feature a gear-like graphic to emphasise power, and just for an extra touch of sportiness, Rolls-Royce slapped on its first ever coloured brake calipers, which in this case is painted in high gloss red.
For the cabin, Rolls-Royce developed a new luxury material called Technical Carbon, a naked-weave carbon-fibre “leaf” with a three-dimensional effect. Each leaf is finished with six coats of lacquer before being left to cure for 72 hours, then hand-polished to a mirror finish. Believe it or not, this process takes 21 days and is only deemed complete once every piece has been inspected by a master craftsperson. He or she ensures complete reflective uniformity across each of the 23 pieces placed within the car.
A handwoven Starlight Headliner with 1,344 fibre optic lights grace the ceiling, casting a low light over the black leather seats. What makes this a true Rolls-Royce feature is that the headliner features eight white shooting stars that apparently dart at random over the front occupants.
As with any Rolls-Royce car, the cabin is almost infinitely customisable, from colour selection to material. For the Cullinan Black Badge, designers have created a new leather colour called Forge Yellow, providing a stark contrast against the predominantly black cabin. Finally, the infinity motif is embroidered into the rear armrest, and can also be found on the illuminated tread plates and darkened steel clock case.
For performance, Rolls-Royce decided to give the Cullinan Black Badge a more dynamic edge. Its all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering features have been recalibrated for better agility while retaining the brand’s peerless ride quality. There’s also a “Low” button on the gear selection stalk which unleashes the SUV’s full suite of technological prowess, the company claims.
Its 6.75 litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine now breathes better through an entirely new exhaust system, offering a deeper, more authoritative basso profundo. As a result, it makes 600 PS and 900 Nm of torque, which is 29 PS and 50 Nm more than the standard tune. The brakes have been beefed up to handle the extra grunt, and the vented discs cool better thanks to a new design.
The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is retained, albeit tweaked with a more urgent throttle and transmission management system. Several suspension components have been uprated to offer better vehicular dynamics, and at the same time ensure an optimal balance between sportiness and refinement. Rolls-Royce says the Cullinan Black Badge is “extremely well-mannered” when driven at low speeds, and a “vivid driver’s device when pressed.”
So, what do you think of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge? The automaker says this is by far the darkest and most urban statement of the Black Badge series of cars yet. Order books are now officially open.