For fans of super-luxury cars, there perhaps isn’t an apogee higher than owning a Rolls. HNIs today don’t seem to be quite satisfied by owning a run of the mill luxury car. And bespoke is the way every luxury automaker is going. Rolls-Royce is no exception, and to this end, it launched its Black Badge programme, a bespoke family of vehicles, in 2016, the latest iteration of which has just been introduced in India – the Black Badge Cullinan.
Cullinan, a super-luxury all-terrain SUV, was launched in 2019. The Black Badge Cullinan is the “boldest and darkest expression of Black Badge yet,” says Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “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 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 aesthetics – 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.”
“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 terms”
A big SUV
The Cullinan has been introduced as the darkest, most urban expression of a Black Badge motor car yet. We say car, up close, it seems larger than most urban commercial vehicles in India. It is 5,341 mm long and 2,164 mm wide, has a 12-cylinder 6,750 cc engine; max torque @ engine speed stands at 900 Nm @ 1700 rpm. It has a top speed of 250 kmph and can accelerate from 0 to 100 kmph in 4.9 seconds. Note the new 22-inch forged alloy wheels, reserved exclusively for Black Badge Cullinan. The gear-like graphic emphasises the model’s vast reserves of power while also recalling an infinitely occurring marking called the lemniscate. It is priced at `8.2 crore onwards, which indicates a premium of about `1.25 crore over the ‘standard’ model.
For the young and adventurous
Yes, the average age of the luxury car buyer is falling, and this car is aimed at a younger audience. Yadur Kapur, CEO, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, New Delhi says, “Rolls-Royce Black Badge addresses a new breed of customer. The customer is generally younger and more adventurous. The car is perfect for those who dare to be different.”
Well, the exterior of this noir-themed car comes with multiple layers of paint and lacquer that the brand says “are meticulously applied and hand-polished 10 times at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex, representing the most comprehensive surface finish process ever applied to a solid paint colour”. Nevertheless, clients can draw on the marque’s 44,000 ‘ready to wear’ paint options or commission an entirely individual bespoke hue.
Even the brand’s iconic The Spirit of Ecstasy mascot is presented in high gloss black chrome. For the first time, this finish extends onto its mounting plate, creating the darkest Black Badge yet. 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 to add a frisson of movement that hints at the motor car’s dynamic intent.
The interiors offer a near-infinitely configurable colour palette. The default colour is a new one, Forge Yellow, created as part of the brand’s curated collection. The roomy interiors transport you to another world, that of Technical Carbon veneer, a new luxury material. Inspired by masterpieces of urban architecture, a naked-weave carbon-fibre finish has been developed to create highly accurate repeating geometrical shapes that produce a powerful three-dimensional effect. 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.
The ceiling is ‘starlit’. A new feature called the Starlight Headliner is presented in fine black leather, handwoven with 1,344 fibre optic lights, “a true reflection of the sky at night and incorporates eight brilliant white shooting stars that dart at random predominantly over the front occupants, subtly acknowledging the motor car’s owner-driver appeal”.
Also, worth noting is the Infinity lemniscate motif embroidered into the fold-down rear armrest as an elegant reminder of the power contained within. This simple but potent symbol is also incorporated in the illuminated treadplates and engraved on the brushed and darkened steel clock case. Red-tipped clock hands and instrument display needles also serve as a discreet reminder of the motor car’s dynamic prowess.
There’s lots more to the Black Badge Cullinan, which also incidentally becomes India’s priciest SUV. In India, the wait time for delivery for a Rolls Royce is usually about six months. Prospective clients would be forgiven for demanding theirs sooner.