We usually think of Rolls-Royce as a traditional company that would be almost immune to change. This is true in a certain way, but even the century-old brand knows that flexibility may bring a lot of success, and that’s how the Black Badge models came. The Black Badge Dawn, Wraith and Ghost give the brand’s younger clients more choices. Famous athletes, actors and musicians want hipper style and extra power to pair with that signature Rolls-Royce exclusivity, and that’s exactly what they get when buying a Black Badge. And now the trio is growing.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge is posh in all the right ways. It is one of the most luxurious SUVs available on the market. And what’s impressive is that while the model maintains the same levels of quality and exclusivity expected of a RollsRoyce, it’s one of the few options that’s just exciting from the driver’s seat.
The new visual changes are not very noticeable at first, but looking closer we can distinguish the darkened grille, trim pieces and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament – all of which wear a high-gloss black chrome chemical finish. Rolls-Royce says the process to create these darkened trim pieces is difficult but necessary to prevent long-term scratching or chipping. The wheels are also unique to this trim. The 22-inch units wrap around painted brake calipers. These are subtle, stylish improvements to a vehicle that’s already extremely impressive to look at.
The same happens inside the car. Small upgrades over the standard Cullinan make all the difference. A Technical Fiber (carbon fiber) trim comes standard and it covers most of the dash and center console, creating a 3D effect. The new Forge Yellow leather, meanwhile, looks incredible alongside traditional black accents.
The Cullinan Black Badge uses the same colossal 6.7-liter V12 found in the base model. And it now produces 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Credit a reflashed ECU for the improvement. Rolls-Royce doesn’t bother to list the time it takes to reach top speed, but this SUV feels noticeably quicker than its 563-hp sibling from behind the wheel.
Power delivery gets an uptick. In “Low” mode (Rolls-Royce’s version of Sport), the remapped throttle and touchier gas pedal help unleash that massive V12’s strengths in a way the base model doesn’t. The Black Badge Cullinan takes far less prodding to get up to speed. The more-aggressive shift pattern from the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission puts the V12’s newfound power to use exceptionally well. The gearbox is still seamless in the way it shifts, as it is in the base Cullinan.
The Cullinan remains averse to canyon carving, even with its new sporty designation. But the Black Badge model feels more majestic in the way it moves. The firmer air suspension gives better feedback and more responsiveness, while the heavier steering and quicker ratio improve turn-in abilities.
But don’t think those performance upgrades contribute to a less-comfortable ride. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge is still a car comfortable-enough to be driven in. Even after the upgrades, it remains one of the poshest, quietest, and smoothest vehicles on the market.