Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ automotive principles are precise and conclusive, directed to continuously build opulent vehicles that satisfy the souls of their eclectic class of wealthy owners. From American mattress distributors to Middle Eastern Princes to Japanese artists, the ideological beliefs, business savvy and success of each customer is as diverse as the convergence of people and cultures in New York City. For this reason, the British purveyor of finely-crafted machines from Goodwood, England, always reinvents itself and influences the planet with stately chariots such as the breathtaking Wraith Black Badge, which I recently experienced for a long weekend in my hometown of Silver Spring, MD.
The idea of Black Badge stemmed from the fact that Wraith customers were restyling their rides after purchase so Rolls-Royce decided to simplify the process. Targeted at younger Wraith connoisseurs, my imperial chariot was presented in a charming Cherry Red exterior hue and two-toned black and Arctic White custom interior, fully realized with natural grain leather, Mugello Red contrast stitching, custom (bespoke in British-speak) piano black wood lacquered panels, plush lambswool carpeting, and an extended leather headliner featuring the $15,000 Starlight Headliner option, which made each evening guest feel like royalty. With a suggested price of $315,700, the 2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge was blessed with additional amenities accruing to $420,930. As my good friends from across the pond would say, it’s the business!
The operative term when describing the Wraith is quintessential. Every piece of metal, every carved layer of veneer, every bespoke millimeter of stitching, and every layer of bespoke paint is quintessential. “Black Badge is an attitude to life, an aspect of the Rolls-Royce brand that appeals to those people who are elusive and defiant, the risk takers and disruptors who break the rules and laugh in the face of convention,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “They are driven by a restless spirit. They play hard and they change the world. Technically and aesthetically Black Badge is the alter ego of Rolls-Royce, darker, more assertive, more confident and powerful, and more demanding.”
My first spin in the RR instantly converted me into a stately aristocrat on a mission to bring unity into my cypher utilizing the BuzzFeed from the Wraith Black Badge. While cruising with the “Flying Lady” hood ornament spearheading the journey, admirers gazed, smiled, acknowledged, and voted their stamps of approval. The most iconic features of the vehicle are presented in the form of the Parthenon Grille, the retractable Spirit of Ecstasy in Dark Chrome, and grand 21-inch carbon alloy composite rims constructed from 22 layers of carbon fiber that provide 44 layers of vigor. Moreover, the aircraft-technology, aluminum hub is 3D forged and fused to the rim with aerospace strength titanium fasteners. Also, the self-righting double RR wheel centers stay upright no matter if the Wraith is stationary or on the move. Another classic Roll-Royce statement is the self-closing, reverse opening coach doors, which left everyone in awe. I also can’t forget a key staple of the brand: Teflon coated umbrellas that reveal themselves from inside pockets in the front fenders.
Whether it was a five-star dining experience with my wife in Bethesda, Maryland, or dropping the kids at school, the excitement was immediately immense. Actually, my 9th grade high school daughter is suddenly popular, but hopefully the newfangled friendships will be based on respect, decorum, and truth opposed to a supposedly rich dad’s collectable. The luxurious superlatives that define the Black Badge are more often than not indescribable by auditory reaction or editorial depiction. You must be entertained directly by its comforting attributes and advanced by its technologies to understand its aura. The formidable build process composed by company artisans is what makes every Rolls-Royce vehicle unique and infectious. “With Black Badge we have created the most commanding presence on the super-luxury landscape. It is a truly transformative moment for our great brand,” Müller-Ötvös said.
On the road “Her Majesty” sails like a recreational sea vessel as you take to the large but thin, multi-function, full leather-covered steering wheel. It propels itself gently but authoritatively by way of the 6.6-liter V12 aluminum-alloy engine with 624-horsepower and 642 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,500 and 5,500 rpm. Never was there an urgency to get from locale to locale but I did investigate what it had in the tank a few times. Yes, it can literally fly when needed but mostly I utilized the active cruise control with engine stop and go to aid fuel economy. The V12 is paired with an 8-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission devoid of any paddle shifters if you are wondering. The suspension is enhanced with self-leveling air springs with anti-roll stabilization and electronic variable damping control. With this set-up, along with massive 255/40-R21 tires the Rolls sucked up everything in its path. Added safety and performance systems include park distance monitoring, lane departure mitigation, night vision with pedestrian recognition, dynamic brake control, high-beam assistance, dynamic stability and traction control, cornering brake control, and brake energy regeneration.
The cabin of the Black Badge is fit for four adults and treats each with exclusivity. The center console is highlighted by the large multimedia dial for operating the satellite navigation, lively 16-speaker bespoke audio system featuring articulately cut metal grilles, telephone and entertainment services, the digital owner’s manual, concierge services, contacts, messages, and vehicle info from a 10.25-inch display screen, which can be hidden behind a veneer cover. All operational switches and dials are large, ergonomic, and simple to control, including the two climate control rotary dials and the eight center stack buttons for storing favorites like a popular XM/Sirius station or a drive location. The instrument cluster can be customized to illustrate your favorite features as well such as “distance to arrival” while head-up display showed the speed limit of each road. This is helpful for today’s plethora of traffic cameras.
In hindsight, the Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge should present no financial dilemmas for its intended customers. Surely they will not be daunted by 12-city or 19-highway mpg nor should they be concerned with the cost of service, repairs, or maintenance of the luxury liner. Ownership is the demonstration of rites of passage into a bespoke world of opulence and defining moments. Revel in the glorious outings that will create a constellation of never-to-be-forgotten yesterdays for your imminent self. I surely did for three magnificent days!