From £280,8009
Another flavour of Ghost, rather than a reinvention of it. Which means it’s still excellent

What is it?

It’s remarkable to think that the average Rolls-Royce buyer, at just 43, is younger than the average Mini buyer within the BMW Group. A key part of that phenomenon has emerged within the past five years with the launch of the Black Badge model range, which has really now found its niche, particularly among younger buyers in the world’s emerging megacities.

The Black Badge treatment, which came first on the Rolls Royce Wraith in 2016, now arrives on the second-generation Rolls Royce Rolls-Royce Ghost. It is no mere sporty trim level or special edition with a black paint finish, a tin of gloss black paint applied to the brightwork and a bit more power and a Sport driving mode.

No, said brightwork, for example, is all still chrome. It’s just had the chemical formula tweaked to come out in a darker shade, most notably seen on the darker grille and Spirit of Ecstasy. 

And you can have the car in any of Rolls-Royce’s 44,000 paint colour options, although black remains the most popular choice. There is more power, too, and a new driving mode that does things like sharpen gearshifts and throttle response, but don’t call it a Sport mode: it’s called the ‘Low’ mode and is accessed by a button on the column shifter.

98 Rolls royce ghost black badge 2021 uk first drive hero rear

What's it like?

Fittingly, our test drive was under the cover of darkness. (It was done before the Ghost Black Badge had even been revealed to the wider world, thus keeping the car from prying eyes.)

It started with a blast up a closed Northamptonshire runway to see the difference in right-foot urgency between ‘normal’ and Low modes, including the 50%-sharper gearshifts and the full force of that extra 29bhp and 37lb ft boost over the standard Ghost’s mighty twin-turbocharged V12 engine. The force at which one’s posterior was wedged backwards into the most sumptuous of driver’s seats told the story.

Our test route that followed was short, and mixed in some back roads leading to the Oxford ring road before heading down the M40 (probably not the average Black Badge owner’s typical Wednesday evening drive) and didn’t show up any huge dynamic differences between the standard Ghost and the Black Badge.

Which means it’s pretty exceptional: quiet, comfortable, oh so refined, and a good deal more manoeuvrable than the larger Rolls Royce Rolls-Royce Phantom. The rear-wheel steering system in particular is worthy of praise in helping the Ghost to feel not quite the full 5.5m in length.

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Our biggest gripe with the standard Ghost was its secondary ride, and the Black Badge showed similar traits in not being the final word in comfort and isolation, yet this is more forgivable than the standard car, given its more dynamic (don’t say sporty…) brief.

The interior remains as sumptuous to the touch as any luxury saloons', up to and including the larger Phantom. We say touch rather than view because this drive was at night…

91 Rolls royce ghost black badge 2021 uk first drive dashboard

Should I buy one?

A success, then? As the Rolls-Royce Ghost for the more keen driver, yes, although that’s all relative even in the world of the super-saloon. A Mercedes-AMG S65 this is not, of course. But nor is it trying to be.

As an exercise in styling and desirability, the car's year-long wait times and seemingly unstoppable progress of Rolls-Royce speak volumes. Rolls has built it, and they have come.

80 Rolls royce ghost black badge 2021 uk first drive static

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Bill Lyons 29 October 2021

Mmm. Black with NHS blue. Tasteful. Why not add some dog-eared magazines and you can have the complete 'Doctor's Waiting Room' experience.

Overdrive 28 October 2021

Looks fantastic. If only I had the money......and the space.

Nick Millward 28 October 2021

It looks disgusting and it seems that Rolls Royce are doing what Burberry did previously, ie to make a lot of money but in doing so are devaluing the brand.