R​olls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge Review!

The mystique and magic that envelops Rolls-Royce’s cars in Black Badge guise is particularly apt in the case of the purposeful and imposing Cullinan SUV.

10w ago
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The mystique and magic that envelops Rolls-Royce’s cars in Black Badge guise is particularly apt in the case of the purposeful and imposing Cullinan SUV.

Sitting on highly polished Black Badge exclusive 22” wheels, and finished in meticulously hand-polished infinity black, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge is both menacing and stately in equal measure.

Eleanor Thornton’s elegant pose, frozen in time in the form of the spirit of ecstasy, assumes a mystical persona in Black Badge form. Cloaked in deep black, the flying lady which guides every Rolls-Royce journey is symbolic of the spirit of the Black Badge customer - revolutionary, bold and daring.

However, it is the striking mandarin orange leather interior, perfectly complemented by a hand-painted coach-line of the same colour running down the side of the mirror-finish paintwork, that really enhances the visual drama of the car.

Opening both the front and rear coach doors simultaneously, as one would a cabinet of treasures, reveals the magnificence of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan’s stunning interior.

So rich in detail, with an unparalleled depth of quality and craftsmanship, combined with the subtle aroma of the finest leather in the world, it is difficult to capture the indelible impression of a Rolls-Royce upon first acquaintance in words. Although I am incredibly fortunate to have experienced several Rolls-Royce cars, the feeling of sitting into each and every new model for the first time is as magical as ever.

In Black Badge form, the car’s wonderfully supple, uber-soft leather interior is complemented by beautifully polished carbon-fibre inlays with a unique and complex weave that is as much a testament to the talents of the car’s craftspeople as it is to the company’s relentless quest to innovate, to push the boundaries of each and every component further with each new generation of their cars.

Rolls-Royce's dazzling starlit headliner is another perfect example of this evolution of the brand’s trademark features. Intricately hand-crafted using over a thousand fibre-optic cables to replicate a starlit nighttime sky, it is now possible to spot shooting stars as they randomly dart across the headliner.

It is also interesting to note that while it is arguably possible for other car manufacturers to potentially replicate the starlit headliner effect, their efforts would be futile, as the reality is that only a Rolls-Royce could ever credibly carry this unique and beautifully executed feature off. It is this magical quality that renders the company’s cars so unique in the motoring world, and so apt as a canvas for the breadth of bespoke customisation that the company can offer its clients.

While the quality of Rolls-Royce’s interiors has been well publicised, one really has to experience the sensory delight of the cabin to truly appreciate the company’s extraordinary attention to detail.

The damping of the organ stop ventilation controls is calibrated just so, the lightness of every control from the steering to the temperature settings is effortless, while the jing of the cold-to-the-touch metal air vents oozes quality, and a quest for perfection that is unrivalled. It is impossible to find a single surface or detail that isn’t covered in leather, made of genuine polished stainless steel, or twinkling in highly polished carbon-fibre.

The greatest sensory delight aside from the visual impact of the car’s interior is the sound, or rather lack thereof. Silence. At motorway speeds, I found myself turning off all of the car’s media and infotainment features just to experience the unique tranquility afforded by Rolls-Royce’s silent and pillow-soft ride.

This silence is incredibly difficult and expensive to produce, requiring hundreds of kilos of sound deadening insulation, and a level of research and development that beggars belief.

Fitted with the wonderfully named ‘Flagbearer’ system, the car uses sensors and satellite navigation to analyse the road surface ahead and pre-prepare the suspension for any bumps, thereby maintaining a ride quality more akin to flying rather than driving on land.

However, this is also a very dynamic car to drive on more entertaining roads, particularly in Black Badge form given the car’s additional power and dynamic tuning. With the deep, thunderous yet never intrusive timbre of the car’s powerful exhaust note entering the cabin upon acceleration, the Cullinan Black Badge is surprisingly quick off the line, and more importantly feels composed, controlled and dynamic to drive.

With a 591 bhp V12 engine producing an incredible 900Nm of torque from as low down the rev-range as 1,650 RPM, the car’s pace is astonishing given its 2.7 tonne kerb weight. Not that a Rolls-Royce would have anything as crude as a rev-counter of course, rather a ‘Power Reserve’ dial which I rarely caught reading anything below 95%.

However, it is the delivery of this power that is most impressive, so relentless is the acceleration, blasting past the 60 mph milestone in a mere 4.9 seconds, and onto an electronically limited 155 mph top speed.

Although this is the more dynamic and powerful Black Badge model, the fundamental and meticulous calibration of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan’s driving controls and characteristics remain. This is a car best driven in a relaxed and tranquil manner, with delicate controls that encourage light-touch operation, and a level of power that doesn’t have to be experienced to be appreciated. The undoubted fact that the power is there in reserve is more than sufficiently reassuring, and if summoned upon will deliver a startlingly brisk pace.

The car’s adaptive cruise control is a feature I particularly appreciate, so finely calibrated is the system which brings the Cullinan to a halt in the most gradual manner possible. This feature, although innovative and modern, also nods to the past, as Rolls-Royce chauffeurs were once trained to stop the car so gradually that a passenger never experienced a head bob!

One could easily forget that the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is an incredibly accomplished SUV off road as well. The company teamed up with National Geographic and put the Cullinan SUV through a gruelling 3-year testing schedule across the most challenging environments on the planet. However, in keeping with the car’s minimalistic and tranquil cabin, the Cullinan’s off-road abilities are simply hinted at by the presence of a single unassuming button on the centre console which simply reads “Off Road.”

Rolls-Royce’s cars are endlessly customisable in terms of finish, colour, material, and optional features. It is telling that so enjoyable is the Cullinan Black Badge to drive, that is is only now I shall address the supreme comfort as a rear-seat passenger.

Stepping inside the cocooning rear cabin, the mathematical symbol of infinity embroidered into the centre armrest catches the eye first, a nod to the relentless, adventurous spirit of the Black Badge customer.

With one’s feet nestled into the ultra plush lambswool carpets, a press of the pillar mounted button closes the rear-hinged coach door to the elements, concealing the illuminated Black Badge tread plates as it does so.

My press car featured the company’s rear theatre configuration, with gloriously soft lounge seating and large screens boasting a host of infotainment features from tv to internet, each of which can be hidden from sight at the touch of a button, silently folding away behind highly-polished carbon finished picnic tables.

It is from this elevated ‘pavilion seating’ vantage point that the car’s starlit headliner can be experienced to the greatest effect, the stars stretching across the galaxy of the ceiling to the front compartment. The spirit of ecstasy is also pleasingly visible from the rear, a gentle valley running down the centre of the front bonnet guiding one’s eye down to Rolls-Royce’s timeliness mascot at the end.

At the rear, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge has one final trick up its sleeve, and a feature that is arguably the talking point of the car - a ‘viewing suite.’ Designed for watching outdoor sports such as polo or horse racing, at the touch of a button two beautifully trimmed leather seats swing out onto the rear boot-lid of the car, as a champagne table rises between them. Like the starlit headliner or coach doors, this is another feature that will undoubtedly weave its way into the timeless tapestry of features synonymous with the Rolls-Royce brand.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a beautifully finished, incredibly accomplished and technologically innovative tour-de-force, its purposeful and imposing appearance all the more striking and menacing in Black Badge form. From the mystique of the darkened spirit of ecstasy to the mesmerising starlit headliner, this is a car that brings Rolls-Royce’s unique and magical ambience to each and every journey.

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Comments (3)

  • I'll place my order once Ive won the lottery a few times. 😎

      2 months ago
  • When I was a kid Rolls Royces were widely accepted as the best made cars in the world. While I’m not sure that reputation still stands, they are probably still the best car to be driven in. I wish my lounge was as comfortable as the rear of that car looks.

      2 months ago
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