- The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge has more power from the 6.7-liter twin-turbo V-12 and, for the first time ever, red brake calipers and a sport exhaust.
- The outline of the grille is darkened, but not the grille itself.
- The average selling price of a Cullinan is $409,000, and this special edition will be higher still.
By the time automakers spot a trend in the aftermarket, they’ve already lost millions to tuners and custom shops. Rolls-Royce, once befuddled why Ghost owners were spending tens of thousands on blacked-out body kits, now moves fast to appease the more capricious tastes of its youngest buyers. Hence the Cullinan Black Badge, here after barely a year since this half-million-dollar SUV went on sale.
The average net worth of a Rolls owner is $20 million, which means an older demographic—but the Black Badge cars, along with cheaper and sportier rides like the Wraith, have attracted more industry captains in their thirties and forties than ever. In terms of marketing magic, the Cullinan Black Badge is no different than a Nissan Rogue Midnight Edition or any number of ordinary factory offerings that darken the trim and wheels for an upcharge.
Rolls-Royce tints the chrome surrounding the grille, air intakes, windows, and exhaust tips. The Spirit of Ecstasy dims her bright shade, and the RR badges are inverted to silver letting over a black background. Unique 22-inch wheels aren’t the standout. It’s the red brake calipers—a first for Rolls-Royce.
There are real performance upgrades to the three-ton Cullinan, including new brake rotors and revised pedal feel that Rolls-Royce claims is less squishy. Tweaks to the air suspension and steering at both axles may or may not improve the Cullinan’s berth in tight city streets, but be assured the “Magic Carpet Ride” is undisturbed. A software remap puffs an additional 29 horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque into the 6.7-liter V-12 (for a total of 592 horsepower and 664 lb-ft). But this last part is daft in a Rolls: Pressing the “low” switch on the gear selector reworks the eight-speed automatic transmission into Sport mode and allows a few mild crackles and soft spitting sounds from the exhaust.
Inside, the carbon-fiber trim has six clearcoats, and the Starlight headliner now animates eight shooting stars from 1344 fiber-optic lights. The Forge Yellow leather shown in these photos is brand new, too, as is the infinity symbol embroidered into each seatback.
While the Dawn has been the best-selling Rolls, the company predicts the Cullinan will soon shove it aside. Rolls has delivered fewer than 1000 SUVs in the U.S. this year, which is a massive number considering an average selling price of $409,000. The Cullinan Black Badge doesn’t yet have a list price, but compared to what some customers spend at Mansory or West Coast Customs, it’ll probably look like a deal.