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A diamond shining in the dark

Our Bureau | Updated on December 05, 2019 Published on December 05, 2019

Rolls-Royce creates the Black Badge Cullinan for younger buyers looking for exclusivity and bespoke luxury

How does a brand that is considered to be the pinnacle of luxury reinvent itself to be relevant for an emerging new audience? Ask Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and they’d point to their Black Badge range of models. At the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Rolls-Royce presented Black Badge; “a permanent bespoke family of cars that defined the taste patterns of an emerging generation of super-luxury consumer”.

Around that same time, the Goodwood, UK-based uber-luxury car brand also ventured for the first time ever into the market for sports utility vehicles (SUVs) with its Cullinan.

Named after the diamond and created to satisfy overwhelming demand from younger, more adventurous clients, the Cullinan has already defied the odds and charted its own path. Yet, Rolls-Royce feels that within this group there exists a subset of individuals who seek to subvert the car’s domineering presence by permanently cloaking it in the night. And so is born the Cullinan Black Badge.

Like in the case of the Black Badge Wraith and Ghost, for the Cullinan, too, clients can draw on the marque’s 44,000 ‘ready to wear’ paint options or commission an entirely individual bespoke hue. But it is anticipated that many will opt for Black Badge’s signature Black. Multiple layers of paint and lacquer are applied and hand-polished 10 times at the Home of Rolls-Royce, and this represents the most comprehensive surface finish process ever applied to a solid paint colour.

Design

Elaborating on the design details of the new Black Badge Cullinan, an official statement from RR says that the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, which has taken many forms throughout the marque’s history, is presented in high gloss black chrome. This transformation pervades the other symbols of Black Badge. The ‘Double R’ badge on the front, flanks and aft invert to become silver-on-black, while chrome surfaces such as the front grille surround, side frame finishers, boot handle, boot trim, lower air inlet finisher and exhaust pipes are darkened. While they appear black, the vertical grille bars remain polished, reflecting the blackened surfaces that surround them.

The effect is further dramatised by all-new 22-inch forged alloy wheels, reserved exclusively for Black Badge Cullinan.

Designed in the Black Badge house style, the gear-like graphic emphasises the model’s vast reserves of power while also recalling an infinitely occurring lemniscate.

The gloss black and polished design also creates the perfect stage for the first ever coloured brake caliper. The high gloss red paint has been specifically developed to withstand the rigours of elevated temperatures generated by the uprated braking system. Further, the braking bite point has been raised and pedal travel decreased. Redesigned brake disc ventilation also allows consistency in these changes while braking at elevated temperatures.

The RR statement also mentions that the Starlight Headliner has joined historical Rolls-Royce iconography such as the Spirit of Ecstasy, Pantheon Grille and ‘Double R’ monogram. Its presence in Black Badge Cullinan intensifies the cabin’s ambience by casting a low light over the lavish leather seats.

Key to the Black Badge Cullinan is the Architecture of Luxury, Rolls-Royce’s proprietary all-aluminium architecture that debuted with the Phantom. The sub-structure not only delivers high body stiffness but its flexibility and scalability allowed Cullinan to be fitted with all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering in its silver badged guise. These dynamic features have been comprehensively exploited and re-engineered for Black Badge.

Rolls-Royce also mentions that when the driver presses the ‘Low’ button located on the gear selection stalk, they unlock Black Badge Cullinan’s full suite of technologies. This is asserted by the proud amplification of the car’s 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 through an entirely new exhaust system.

There is no change to the engine’s internal capacity; however, the flexibility of the twin-turbo V12 has been exploited to generate an extra 29PS, creating a total output of 600PS and a further 50NM of torque, bringing the total to a 900NM.

Black Badge Cullinan benefits from a bespoke transmission and throttle treatment that creates a sense of urgency. The drive-train, ZF 8-speed gear box and both front and rear steered axles work collaboratively to adjust the levels of engagement depending on throttle and steering inputs.

Published on December 05, 2019
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