In many ways, the 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge is the ultimate expression of a modern Rolls Royce. Stylized to appeal to an audience more off-white than Yves Saint Laurent, the Black Badge is a contemporary approach to ultra-luxe. But what makes it different than the black trim? We took a lap behind the wheel (and in the back seat) in Palm Springs to get answers.
If BMW M is for BMW owners who like to drive, the Black Badge is a Rolls for owners who like to be in charge. Engineered with a little more power, a retuned suspension and even a sportier-sounding exhaust, the Ghost Black Badge offers just enough rider intervention to keep things interesting. But let’s not confuse interesting with involving. This isn’t a car for those who want to feel the tarmac under the tires or understand where the limits of grip lie. This is the Rolls you pull out of the garage when you don’t mind hearing an exhaust note.
In short, the Black Badge is about the experience. From the moment you step into the cabin to the moment you press start, you are filled with tactile delight. Inside, the material quality is of the highest quality I’ve ever seen in a car. All that glitters is either metal or crystal. All that appears to be leather is hands down the best quality leather I’ve ever felt in a car. And every physical control as perfect weight and response. In a world of plastic that looks like metal and foam disguised as leather, The Ghost Black Badge oozes authentic materials.
From a technological point of view, however, the Rolls Royce Ghost (in Black Badge form or not) is shockingly behind the times. It’s all last generation stuff that probably hasn’t been produced in BMWs for a few years. Not that it’s bad, mind you. In a way, I almost prefer the tactile buttons and the simpler version of iDrive on offer here. But if you’re looking for the latest ADAS system or huge screens, you’re in the wrong car.
As the owner, you determine everything. Want a specially ordered black umbrella in the back door? It’s as simple as writing a check for $1,675. Purple extended piping? Don’t worry as long as $2,225 isn’t a problem. And what about that burnout gray color you’ve been craving? It’s as simple as coughing up an extra $15,900.
All well and good, but what’s it like to drive you ask? The Black Badge stands for performance in the spirit of Rolls-Royce. This car is about experience, taking you to your destination with the ultimate in luxury, comfort and safety. It’s less of a car and more of an experience.
Buying a $492,000 Rolls-Royce Ghost is also a very different process than going to a BMW dealership to look at an X5. They manufacture this car in collaboration with Rolls Royce to your exact specifications. And you probably know the process well because, according to Rolls Royce’s own customer data, it’s probably your third or fourth Rolls Royce. It is also at least your 10th car in all your different houses. In that regard, this is just another link in the chain of luxurious experiences that an owner has in their lifetime.
One thing that makes this latest generation of Ghost quite different from the previous one is that it uses a platform tailored for Rolls Royce rather than a discarded BMW 7 Series. This has allowed Rolls Royce engineers and designers to create an experience that feels more isolated and incredibly comfortable. The irony, of course, is that we rode the all-new electric BMW i7 back-to-back with this Ghost and found the i7 to be even more comfortable and quiet. But that’s an unfair comparison given the nature of the electric powertrain and the fact that there’s a 6.75 twin-turbo V12 under the hood. On a side note, electrification would suit this brand incredibly well.
After a short drive around Palm Springs, we left not only completely relaxed, but also somewhat reprogrammed. The question of whether this car lived up to that price tag felt irrelevant. Of course, in the terms that you and I equate with cars, it can’t possibly be worth $492,000. But for its owner, the calculus is quite different.
Does it deliver on the same level as the experiences its owners surround themselves with? Absolutely. Can it wash away the outside world and create an alternate reality for its drivers and passengers? Effortless. Are we already looking for tattered used ones on eBay? Absolutely.