The Rolls-Royce Cullinan goes Black

“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 willfully 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.” Those were the words of Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the very distinguished Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Rolls-Royce may be legend in the realm of super-luxury motoring. The luxurious automobiles’ elegant styling and “Magic Carpet” ride has made it synonymous with a relaxed and tranquil drive. Until Black Badge came along. 

It all began at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016, when Rolls-Royce Motor Cars presented a radical new line — a permanent Bespoke family of motor cars that embodied the new sensibilities of an emerging generation of super-luxury consumer. These unapologetic, segment-redefining automobiles were an answer to those who refused to be defined by traditional norms of luxury and did much to attract new customers to the marque. 

This bold alter ego is codified by the mathematical symbol that represents a potential infinity, which is placed discreetly within the vehicle’s interior. This marking, known as the lemniscate, was applied to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s record-breaking Rolls-Royce-powered Blue Bird K3 hydroplane, denoting that it belonged to an insurance class reserved for boats with unlimited and therefore infinite engine power. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars selected this hallmark for Black Badge to reflect its own otherworldly levels of power. 

Rolls-Royce debuted Black Badge with Wraith and Ghost in 2016 followed by Dawn in 2017. Today, the family is completed with the introduction of Black Badge Cullinan — the darkest and most urban statement of Black Badge yet.

Created to satisfy overwhelming demand from younger, more adventurous clients, the Cullinan was launched to global acclaim in 2018, instantly becoming the world’s ultimate super-luxury SUV.

While clients can draw on the marque’s 44,000 ‘ready to wear’ paint options or commission an entirely individual Bespoke hue, it’s anticipated that many will opt for Black Badge’s signature Black. Multiple layers of paint 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.

Atop the Cullinan’s imposing grille stands the defining expression of Black Badge. The Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, which has taken many forms throughout the marque’s history, is presented in high-gloss black chrome. For the first time this finish extends onto its mounting plate, creating the darkest Black Badge yet.

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 to add motion that hints at the car’s dynamic potential.

The overall effect artfully simplifies and enlarges the Cullinan’s exterior design graphics, emphasizing its imposing proportions and confident stance. This is further dramatized by all-new 22-inch forged alloy wheels, reserved exclusively for Black Badge Cullinan. The gloss black and polished design also creates the perfect stage for the marque’s first-ever colored brake caliper — in high-gloss red.

Yet another masterpiece in craftsmanship and design is perfectly embodied by Black Badge Cullinan’s Technical Carbon veneer. Inspired by masterpieces of urban architecture, a naked-weave carbon-fiber 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.

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. Presented in fine Black leather, handwoven with 1344 fiber optic lights, it is 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 car’s owner-driver appeal. 

Reflecting the marque’s Bespoke philosophy, Black Badge Cullinan benefits from a near-infinitely configurable interior color palette. Black Badge clients often use interior space as a stage to create dramatic high contrast colorways, so for Cullinan Rolls-Royce’s Colour and Trim designers created a bold new leather color, Forge Yellow, to offer as part of the brand’s curated collection.

A final touch completes the interior seating: the Infinity lemniscate motif is 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 clock face, itself framed by brushed and darkened steel case bearing the name ‘Cullinan’. Red-tipped clock hands and instrument display needles also serve as a discreet reminder of the vehicle’s enormous dynamic potential.

Key to the visceral thrill of Black Badge Cullinan is the Architecture of Luxury, Rolls-Royce’s proprietary all-aluminum architecture that debuted with Phantom. The sub-structure not only delivers extraordinary 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.

The Architecture of Luxury has been engineered to meet size and weight requirements of different propulsion systems. When the driver presses the ‘Low’ button situated on the gear selection stalk, they unlock Black Badge Cullinan’s full suite of technologies. This is asserted by the proud amplification of the 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 through an entirely new exhaust system, announcing its arrival with a deep, authoritative basso profundo.

The twin-turbo V12 has been exploited to generate an extra 29ps creating a total output of 600ps and an extra 50Nm of torque, bringing the total to a stunning 900Nm.

Black Badge Cullinan benefits from a Bespoke transmission and throttle treatment that creates a sense of urgency without ever undermining its Rolls-Royce poise. The drivetrain, ZF eight-speed gearbox and both front and rear steered axles work together to adjust to varying levels of throttle and steering inputs. The result is an extremely well-mannered tourer at low speeds and a vivid driver’s device when pressed. To bolster confidence when exploiting Cullinan’s alter ego, the braking bite point has been raised and pedal travel decreased.

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