Rolls-Royce delivers some Black Magic with its new Ghost Black Badge
I’m seeing stars. Literally. Over 1,300 of the little twinklers, sparkling down from the sea of roof-mounted, fiber-optic LED lights that make up Rolls-Royce’s acclaimed Starlight Headliner.
Sit back, relax, gaze upwards and sigh with delight at the sighting of a random shooting star coursing its way across the roof lining. Crank up Don McLean singing “Starry, Starry Night” on the 1,300-watt, 16-speaker stereo and the celestial mode is complete.
Well, not quite. Now cast your gaze forward and be prepared to be awed by the sight of the illuminated, passenger-side dashboard replete with 850 twinkly LED stars. There are more stars here than the Dolby Theatre on Oscar night.
Of course, all this ethereal illumination is offered on every exquisite new Rolls-Royce Ghost sedan. The difference here is that we’re driving the very latest, most noir Ghost yet, the 2022 Ghost Black Badge.
What you have with this new Ghost Black Badge is the car-maker’s darkest, boldest, most “murdered out” offering yet. A car that firmly takes the company over to the dark side. Darth Vader would be proud.
Design cues include stealthy-black finishes for that imposing grille and iconic Flying Lady. And if you go for black paintwork — why wouldn’t you? — the deep black hue is claimed to be the darkest in the industry.
Not into black? There’s another 44,000 colors in the Ghost palette to chose from, though there’s nothing too menacing about a Ghost Black Badge painted Mary Kay pink.
Inside it’s all dark Bolivar wood, dark carbon fiber-like veneer and blacked-out chrome, though the contrasting teal leather of our test car was mind-blowingly gorgeous.
Part of the BB package also includes a set of gorgeous new 21-inch composite wheels each made up of layers of carbon fiber, with a forged aluminum hub and aerospace-grade titanium fasteners. Wheels on a 747 Jumbo aren’t this complex.
But there’s also some real substance here to back up the back-to-black style. Power for that turbine-smooth 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 goes up from the “standard” Ghost’s 563-horsepower to 591. More impressive is the bump-up in torque from 627 lb-ft to 664.
To add a little more, dare we say “sportiness” to the way the car handles, the air suspension is a little firmer, with a tad more heft added to the steering for a more dynamic, more agile feel.
And off-the-line acceleration is quickened by the addition of a “Low” mode gear setting — it’s Rolls’s equivalent of “sport” — for the car’s reworked eight-speed automatic. It now unleashes maximum torque at just 1,700rpm and is said to cut shift times in half.
Late at night is certainly the best time to cruise the highways and byways, especially with that Starlight Headliner in full twinkle mode.
The latest Ghost has always felt rapid, but in Black Badge guise, off-the-line response definitely feels stronger, more urgent. Zero-to-60mph acceleration now takes just 4.5 seconds. It feels fast.
But it’s the recalibrated steering that, for me, is the biggest change. It feels more precise, a little heavier, more responsive. And, coupled with standard all-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering, this Ghostly Black Badge becomes my favorite Rolls-Royce, well, ever.
Pricing starts at $437,350 — the Black Badge package adds $43,850 to the sticker — though start talking to the people at Rolls-Royce Bespoke division and you’d quickly get up to the $483,700 of the car we drove.
Just trust me: Driving this car that will definitely have you seeing stars.