2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge Review

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Another flavour of Ghost, rather than a reinvention of it. Which means it’s still excellent.

It’s remarkable to think that the average Rolls-Royce buyer, at just 43, is younger than the average Mini buyer within the BMW Group. A key part of that phenomenon has emerged within the past five years with the launch of the Black Badge model range, which has really now found its niche, particularly among younger buyers in the world’s emerging megacities.

The Black Badge treatment, which came first on the Wraith in 2016, now arrives on the second-generation Ghost. It is no mere sporty trim level or special edition with a black paint finish, a tin of gloss black paint applied to the brightwork and a bit more power and a Sport driving mode.

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No, said brightwork, for example, is all still chrome. It’s just had the chemical formula tweaked to come out in a darker shade, most notably seen on the darker grille and Spirit of Ecstasy.

And you can have the car in any of Rolls-Royce’s 44,000 paint colour options, although black remains the most popular choice. There is more power, too, and a new driving mode that does things like sharpen gearshifts and throttle response, but don’t call it a Sport mode: it’s called the ‘Low’ mode and is accessed by a button on the column shifter.

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Fittingly, our test drive was under the cover of darkness. (It was done before the Ghost Black Badge had even been revealed to the wider world, thus keeping the car from prying eyes.)

It started with a blast up a closed Northamptonshire runway near where the car is built to see the difference in right-foot urgency between ‘normal’ and Low modes, including the 50 per cent-sharper gearshifts and the full force of that extra 22kW and 50Nm boost over the standard Ghost’s mighty twin-turbocharged V12 engine. The force at which one’s posterior was wedged backwards into the most sumptuous of driver’s seats told the story.

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Our test route that followed was short, and mixed in some back roads leading to the Oxford ring road before heading down the M40 (probably not the average Black Badge owner’s typical Wednesday evening drive) and didn’t show up any huge dynamic differences between the standard Ghost and the Black Badge.

Which means it’s pretty exceptional: quiet, comfortable, oh so refined, and a good deal more manoeuvrable than the larger Phantom. The rear-wheel steering system in particular is worthy of praise in helping the Ghost to feel not quite the full 5.5m in length.

Our biggest gripe with the standard Ghost was its secondary ride, and the Black Badge showed similar traits in not being the final word in comfort and isolation, yet this is more forgivable than the standard car, given its more dynamic (don’t say sporty…) brief.

The interior remains as sumptuous to the touch as any luxury saloons’, up to and including the larger Phantom. We say touch rather than view because this drive was at night…

A success, then? As the Rolls-Royce Ghost for the more keen driver, yes, although that’s all relative even in the world of the super-saloon. A Mercedes-AMG S65 this is not, of course. But nor is it trying to be.

As an exercise in styling and desirability, the car’s year-long wait times and seemingly unstoppable progress of Rolls-Royce speak volumes. Rolls has built it, and they have come.

Mark Tisshaw

 

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