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I started out as a motorcyclist and I always will be one. For the most part, I have seen motorcyclists frowning upon cars and while it wasn’t the most logical thing ever, it used to make some sense at least. But in the recent past, I have been getting opportunities to pilot some of the finest specimens of 4-wheeled automotive and I dare say that I have been impressed… moved even. A few of the highlights of these experiences came from Goodwood, England. Rolls-Royce. And in this particular story, our protagonist is a Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge.
There is a word in the English language… Sacrilege. A word mostly used in a negative sense. I have always believed that it is about perception. I’ll explain with an example. A majority of the motorcycling enthusiasts refer to cars as cages in an almost sacred manner. I am one too… always will be and yet, I do not believe in that particular sentiment. More firmly now than ever. And there it is sacrilege.
Onwards to perception now. Let me start out by saying that a motorcycling enthusiast should never drive a good car… most definitely not a RollsRoyce… and a Black Badge from Goodwood must be avoided at all costs. It will bewitch you and shake your immovable faith in the adage (if there isn’t one in existence, now it is) that an engine is more suited to two wheels than four.
Sacrilege… but here it is used in perhaps the most positive sense that one can use this word in. Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge… what a damned phenomenon! I was right to refer to Black Badge cars as Goodwood’s Dark Art. The sheer allure is ‘Unstoppable Force’ incarnate… only, I am nowhere near being the ‘Immovable Object’.
In order to discuss the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge, we need to talk about two separate topics… briefly of course. We won’t keep you waiting for that long… our cruelty does know bounds.
Firstly, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan that we got to drive in Dubai last year and it introduced us to the magic that unfolds when you drive a Rolls-Royce. Every little aspect of one is meant to be an experience… something that’d blow away even the best of connoisseurs. We talked about everything; how it looked, how it drove, and the mark that it infallibly leaves on your soul. The Rolls-Royce of SUVs, as it is aptly referred to as, is simply magical.
The second topic is the Black Badge moniker. Now this moniker to a Rolls-Royce car is what Batman is to Bruce Wayne, what Green Arrow is to Oliver Queen, and a bit on the sinister side, Deathstroke is to Slade Wilson. Sinister… another word, usually associated with negativity but used very tastefully by Rolls-Royce to describe the Black Badge.
In fact, we have a statement from Mr Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, pulled from a RollsRoyce Press Club article and it goes like this: “Black Badge reflects the desires of a distinct group of Rolls-Royce clients: men and women who take risks, break rules and build success on their own terms. Indeed, before we launched Black Badge in 2016 the idea of creating a product that would satisfy this subversive cohort – that is highly dynamic and wilfully rebellious in aesthetic – caused a great deal of internal debate. However, once the marque’s designers, engineers and craftspeople began pursuing this dramatic alter ego, it became clear that these motor cars could not only exist comfortably beneath this revered and historic brand but they would define a new space within the super-luxury market. In this spirit, the time has come for Rolls-Royce’s boldest and darkest expression of Black Badge yet. The King of the Night, Black Badge Cullinan.”
Aptly put… so what the Black Badge entails is more adventure, more sportiness, more… eagerness, more hunger and so forth. But most importantly, it means that while the choice of either driving or being driven in a Silver Badge Rolls Royce is more or less unbiased, when it comes to the Black Badge, the inclination is surely towards the former. We had the pleasure of driving the Wraith Black Badge and the Dawn Black Badge at the Yas Marina Circuit last year and we got a firsthand experience of the occurrence of the above-mentioned phenomenon.
Now, without further ado, let’s talk about the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge. At first glance, it does not seem very different from the Silver Badge. But with keen eyes, one is able to jot down the details that make the Black Badge distinctive. It is all that the Silver Badge Cullinan was but more vigorous. And the darkness descends upon you starting with the mascot. The Spirit of Ecstasy is now finished in high gloss black chrome which, for the first time, extends to its mounting plate.
The ‘Double R’ badging is now silver-on-black, opposite of what it used to be, and it continues the overall darker theme of the car. The chrome accents on the exterior like the front grille surround, side frame finishers, boot handle, boot trim, lower air inlet finisher and exhaust pipes have also been tastefully darkened.
Now, the finish of the bars of the iconic ‘Parthenon Grille’ is a nifty trick. They appear black but are in fact are polished. They appear black as they reflect the blackened surroundings. That’s just magnificent attention to detail and we have massive respect for the severe hard work that goes into the design (and the execution of the design) that goes into making a Rolls-Royce.
Another distinguishing factor between the Silver Badge and the Black Badge Cullinan is the wheels. The latter gets unique 22” alloy wheels, the design of which is reserved exclusively for the Black Badge Cullinan. Their darkened finish also facilitates another brand-first for Rolls-Royce. Painted brake callipers… The ones on the Cullinan Black Badge are finished in high gloss red and the paint has been developed to withstand the high-temperature environment in which the callipers have to operate.
Now, one can get their Cullinan Black Badge in any of the 44,000 paint options offered by the brand or select an individual hue entirely. Yes, there are 44,000 options already on offer! The option of an entirely bespoke hue is just outrageous. While us mere mortals think of cars as something ‘made by a brand’, the vehicles from the stable of Rolls-Royce take the meaning of bespoke to a whole ‘nother level.
The customization options are carried to the interior of the Black badge Cullinan as well. And again, the options are near endless. Every little detail is configurable and in order to add to the high contrast options, the designers have even created a new leather colour called Forge Yellow.
Another familiar yet neat touch is the Infinity motif embroidered into the rear armrest. It is also there in illuminated treadplates and on the steel clock case. The significance of it is also an ode to the heritage and deep roots of the Goodwood marquee.
The motif was a part of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s record-breaking Rolls-Royce-powered BlueBird K3 hydroplane. It denoted that the hydroplane belonged to an insurance class reserved for boats with unlimited and therefore infinite engine power!
And while we have talked about the stately interiors of Rolls-Royce Cullinan previously, the Black Badge is even more special in more than one way. Firstly, the Technical Carbon veneer. It is a naked-weave carbon-fibre finish that has been meticulously crafted to create repeating geometrical shapes that produce a three-dimensional effect.
Rolls-Royce states, “Each leaf of Technical Carbon is finished with six coats of lacquer before being left to cure for 72 hours then hand-polished to Rolls-Royce’s hallmark mirror finish. This process takes 21 days and is only deemed complete once every piece is inspected by a craftsperson to ensure complete reflective uniformity across each of the 23 pieces within the car.”
And while that may seem like a bold claim and even a step too far, you can only know if you’ve been inside the Black Badge Cullinan. All the 23 pieces are indistinguishable in terms of feel, texture, finish and one really appreciates the execution of the tedious process which leads to the creation of every piece.
The next thing has become something of a hallmark of Rolls-Royce quite like Eleanor herself. The Starlight Headliner. Black leather, handwoven with 1,344 fibre optic lights to represent the night sky. The best part is that 8 of them randomly dart over the front occupants.
Just when one thinks that they are close to grasping the expanse of the luxury of a Rolls-Royce, they realize that owning a car like that gives you access to your own shooting stars too! We got to experience it in our tryst with the Black Badge Wraith and Dawn but personally, the real estate inside the Black Badge Cullinan takes the Starlight Headliner experience that much further.
Let’s talk about the driving experience now. The Black Badge Cullinan is powered by the same 6.75L twin-turbo V12 as its Silver Badge variant. But Rolls-Royce did well to put the flexibility of the massive engine to good use.
In the Black Badge avatar, the behemoth now makes 600 PS of power and 900 Nm of torque. That’s an increment of 29 PS in power and 50 Nm of torque.
The more grunt under the hood adds more dynamism to the already scintillating package that the Silver Badge car was. Taking things even further is the sort of a Sport mode activated by pressing the ‘Low’ button on the gear stalk. Right after, the car’s mannerisms are changed in the sense that the throttle seems crisper and the acceleration more eager.
The transmission also undergoes a change upon the activation of ‘Low’ mode. It seems more aggressive and the new exhausts system accentuates the feeling that the Black badge Cullinan means business. The exhaust note, despite still being relatively muted, is a big step forward from utter silence to this playful burble.
Another good thing is that this transformation into a sportier car has been encompassing. It is not just about the engine. The air suspension is a tad bit stiffer by default now. And this little tweak has made a lot of difference in the handling department. The steering was always effortless, but due to the changes in the suspension settings, the car feels much more composed in corners.
What gets up to speed quickly must also sport the prowess of shedding that speed quickly. The Black Badge Cullinan has been endowed with larger discs. When coupled with the reduced brake pedal travel, which translates to quicker bite and response, it makes bringing this 2,753 kg luxury penthouse on wheels to halt easy… kind of disrespectful towards the concept of inertia, isn’t it?
While the performance of the Black Badge Cullinan certainly impresses, it’s the way in which it is made accessible that truly blows one away. It is quicker, yet calmer. It is louder, yet quieter (in a way). It is strikingly similar to the Silver Badge Cullinan, and yet, worlds apart.
Words fall short when one tries to describe the sorcery by the means of which this darker iteration of the Cullinan is somehow sportier without losing a step when it comes to being as graceful as any Rolls-Royce car to ever come out of Goodwood.
I have tried my best to describe this gem (appreciate the wordplay please) of a car. But then, if you know your cars, if you have the money, and most importantly, if you have what it takes to be an owner of a Rolls-Royce, you probably do not need my get-go to go and get one. In case you do, do remember to call me for a joyride.
Every individual, every team, every organization has some ethos that they stick to… some values and philosophy around which their work revolves. When we talk about Rare Rabbit, it is the Men’s Division The House of Rare. This prominent brand of India has one ideology; individuality and that every individual… is Rare.
It is evident from their designs, their stores and right down to their manufacturing facility in Bengaluru. With a workforce of more than 1,000 and 90% of them being women, they make sure that every member of the team is an ‘individual’ and feels Rare.
This philosophy of theirs is what struck us and drove us towards Rare Rabbit. At xBhp, we have treated every biker as a ‘biker’ and so our philosophy, ‘Any Bike. Anyone.’ resonates with the philosophy of The House of Rare our in our case, Rare Rabbit. Their designs, looks, and outfits exude that very belief that they stand by and that is why we don them with pride be it with a Ferrari… or a Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge as seen here.