We review the 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge, a near-on one-million dollar luxury car from the storied British brand, that aims to blend the brand’s peerless luxury with a more sinister side.





What we love
  • Comfort
  • Presence
  • What it says about you, the owner

What we don’t
  • Claims to be a driver’s car, but is still a Rolls
  • It’s really wide, despite being the smallest Rolls
  • Illuminated grille is probably a step too far

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Introduction

You know, more than 75 per cent of Rolls-Royce owners around the world are driven in their cars.

Conversely, in Australia, 70 per cent drive themselves. It speaks volumes about how driving is intrinsically part of the Australian vernacular.

I once worked with an ANU professor – with a Doctor of Philosophy in Cultural Histories and Futures, specialising in cars – who took a short break from academia to write about cars alongside pimply faced 19-year-old me.



He enlightened me with his theory on why we Australians love driving. After all, his thesis on Cars, Culture and Event Mechanics gave me clarity on things I never properly understood as someone who spent the first 15 years of my youth in jolly old England, and not Australia.

It proves that driving truly is a common theme between common people. It makes the 2022 Rolls-Royce Black Badge even more relevant for Australia, as it’s the brand’s “driver’s car”, I’m told. Before we discuss its intricacies, let’s quickly discuss the damage.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is technically the brand’s entry-level passenger car, although our Black Badge model is a ‘bespoke’ variant in the range. It’s priced from $745,000 before on-road costs and options, so consider our car closer to seven figures on the road.



Specification highlights include ‘immersive rear seating’ with occasional third (middle) seat, commission collection door umbrellas (basically colour-coded to whatever you’d like), and even a rear theatre set-up with Rolls-Royce bespoke audio.

Power comes from a mighty 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 with 441kW and a massive 900Nm of torque delivered in full between 1700–4000rpm.

Key details 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge
Price (MSRP) $745,000
Colour of test car XXXXXX
Options The only limit is your imagination
Price as tested $XX,XXX
Rivals Bentley Flying Spur | Mercedes-Maybach S680

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If street presence and making a splash wherever you may roam are high on your list, then it’s the ideal car.



Physical dimensions of 5.5 metres long by almost two metres wide make it statement-piece worthy, but don’t forget the operational task of driving the thing, moreover managing its width around inner-city carparks.

You’ve been warned, and you may need a spotter. Its sheer size – even as a Baby Rolls – is the secret behind its visual opulence, and why you’ll find traffic parting like the Red Sea as you monster up the right lane around the speed limit.

As much as its traffic-parting effect gives me the hives, there’s no denying the respect it commands either. The Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge takes that imposing veneer in a new direction, however, and one where expressiveness and colour can run rife and are acceptable.

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Things like our car’s “Turchese” (turquoise) tiffany-inspired highlights are one example of something you’d usually never see in a Rolls. Same goes for the stunning three-dimensional and hand-laid carbon-fibre trim, too, and not just because it’s a racy and technical material either.

It’s unusual because its intricate detail creates an optical illusion, with multiple layers of cross-woven carbon fibre sometimes looking diamond-shaped, sometimes square-shaped, depending on your state of mind (or the viewing angle and light).

Intriguing, and unbelievably it’s also the same technical-looking material its wheels are made from too. If a lack of traditional silver duco and polished aluminium wheels wasn’t sacrilegious enough for you, this speedy Rolls unbelievably rolls on wheels made from carbon fibre.

According to the seasoned it’s the Anti-Rolls-Royce, but this didn’t seem to faze me as much personally. The subjective colourway of our test specimen also divided the crowd, as its black diamond lower over gunmetal upper two-tone scheme – interjected again by Turchese, this time as a hand-laid and imperfection-laden pinstripe – felt improper to some.

Although not my first preference either, I admire its point of difference. The product yearns to be an individual canvas for hyper-rich, potentially young elite to entertain their avant-garde (or maybe juvenile) design tastes, and our test car was honourably (and accurately) specified so.

I’m told someone ordered theirs with bright yellow highlights, proving the eye of the beholder is king – even in this league.



And, yes, the illuminated Pantheon grille on the front comes as standard. 

2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge
Seats Five
Boot volume 507L
Length 5546mm
Width 1978mm
Height 1571mm
Wheelbase 3295mm

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We shall start at the front, as this is the driver’s Rolls-Royce, we’re told.

Popping behind the wheel for the first time is fun, with it later becoming something of an occasion.

After bedazzling yourself with those age-old metal wheels that adjust the air vent temperature separately for your upper and lower body – pointlessly unlike any other car and just like an old Rolls-Royce – you’ll have a laugh picking first gear. Even the sports model is regal enough to continue using a column-mounted gearshifter. And if you’re wondering what the ‘low’ button does on the stalk, it engages post-haste mode.

The wider cabin from the front driver’s seat is quite regular otherwise. Directly in front of you lies a digital display cleverly styled to look like analogue dials, with a central speedo displayed proud of something called a power reserve gauge.

It’s essentially a reverse tachometer, as it goes backward the more pedal you use. Less jovially, however, this dial simply tells you how many percentiles of power you have left, in case you need to engage 20-or-so more to get to your next locale promptly.



The rest is a pretty standard affair, with a large and central rotary dial controlling the infotainment system like you’d find in a Mazda 6, an analogue clock telling the time like it’s 1984, and a sheer disregard for hi-fi by not including a skip-track button on the steering wheel.

Over in the second row, space is fantastic, and probably where you’d actually rather be. Opening the door and keeping your fingers on the capacitive-touch handles powers up an electric motor that takes over things to reveal a cabin that’s utterly opulent.

The seats themselves are adjustable eleventy-billion ways and are easily the most comfortable things I’ve ever experienced in a car. Pressing the small circular button on the back of the seat in front of you drops a picnic table – made from carbon fibre once again – and also reveals a large 15.0-inch display.

In an unusual fashion, our test car was configured with the fold-down, pop-out rear-seat theatre package we’re discussing now, but also an occasional middle seat. Usually, one would stipulate a rear cinema with a two-seat rear configuration, however, considering our car still featured the family-of-five pack.

Opting for the democratic version doesn’t get in the way of a chilled glass of your favourite vintage, however, as without little Jimmy sitting in the middle between his two siblings, you can still indulge in the wine fridge complete with a pair of chilled drinking vessels to match.

Very fancy. 



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Safety and Technology

As expected of such a low-volume car, the 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost has not been crash-tested by ANCAP.

You and your butler will benefit from safety systems like autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, dedicated airbags for the heads of occupants in both rows of seating, and more.

2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge
ANCAP rating Untested

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Value for Money

Nothing else really compares.

If you have to go shopping, check out the Mercedes-Maybach S680. It’s priced from a still astronomical $574,000 before on-roads, but ironically is the value player in this end of the segment.

Another choice is the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur priced from $494,400 before on-roads.

At a glance 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge
Warranty Four years / unlimited km
Service intervals Condition-based

Based on international specifications, the Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge sips premium petrol at a rate of 15.8 litres per 100km. It’s unlikely you’ll be angsty over fuel bills with a vehicle of this calibre, however.



Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 15.8L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) Not recorded
Fuel type 98-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 90L

Aside from feeling its size in tight inner-city areas, it’s quite a remarkable car to drive.

First, we must get any semblance of sportiness – as we all know it – out of our minds. The steering is still long, slow and vague, the accelerator pedal purposefully calibrated to be smooth and not responsive, and eight-speed auto transmission effortless and operating imperceptibly.

With the backdrop of it still being a Rolls-Royce, the Black Badge offers a little more. In ‘low’ mode it’ll hold a gear, offer some on-roll ‘punch’ if you will, and ever-so-slightly firm things up for slightly bendy roads.

I reckon if your first experience ever in a Rolls were in low mode, you’d still leave without complaint of it being harsh or too aggressive – Black Badge model or not.

In other words, there’s plenty of dignity in the way it drives, and honestly, it feels mostly like a regular Rolls-Royce. The Black Badge model features the same “planar suspension with Flagbearer” system as the regular car, and thank god because it’s a wonderful system that uses clever radars and contour-measuring optics as just the start.

There’s also a damper for the upper-suspension A-arms (yes, a damper on an arm that’s attached to another damper). All of these technologies work together to read the road ahead and prepare the car’s suspension – plus the suspension’s suspension – ahead of striking those pesky upcoming, unavoidable and highly irritating road imperfections.



What’s good to see is the Black Badge model not deviating from this brand hallmark or product proof point. Although it looks a wild departure from the product it’s trying not to be, it can’t help but maintain its best trait in the most important field – ride comfort.

Amazingly, it’s not just exhaust burbles you get in low mode either. If you wind down the front windows, build gently and deeply into the throttle and lift off, you get a fluttery whoosh from the turbochargers’ recirculation valves and intake tracts that sounds akin to a modified Japanese performance car.

You have to listen for it while driving in populated areas with large overpasses, but either way it made me laugh. On the move it’s genuinely fast, with its huge sense of thrust felt against its wafty and eerie pre-emptive suspension quite the bizarre tonic.

Key details 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge
Engine 6.75-litre V12 twin-turbo petrol
Power 441kW @ 5250rpm
Torque 900Nm @ 1700–4250rpm
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission Eight-speed torque converter automatic
Power to weight ratio 173kW/t
Weight 2553kg

Conclusion

I guess if you own Ferraris, Porsches, maybe a Bugatti, vintage things, and everything else cool, amalgamating the sentiment of ‘give it enough guts’ with the concept of ‘a magic carpet ride’ is probably the jaded place you end up after your pursuit of perfection.

Instead, if the Black Badge is merely a canvas for youthful potentials to create something unique, have temporary regrets about, then later cherish, there’s also no issue.

That’s because at its core, the Black Badge still feels like a Rolls-Royce. Dubious design decisions aside, you’re still getting the real McCoy.



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Ratings Breakdown

2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge Saloon

8.6/ 10

Performance

Handling & Dynamics

Driver Technology

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Fuel Efficiency

Value for Money

Fit for Purpose

After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.

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