2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge – The most luxurious SUV. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge is peak posh in all the right ways. It is, inarguably, one of the most luxurious SUVs money can buy. But what’s even more impressive is that while the Cullinan Black Badge maintains the same levels of quality and exclusivity you expect of a Rolls-Royce Cullinan – only now packaged a bit prettier – it’s one of the few available options that’s just as thrilling from the driver’s seat.
Blink and you might miss the Cullinan Black Badge’s new visual cues. They’re not very noticeable at first glance. But look closer. Keen eyes will distinguish the darkened grille, trim pieces, and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, all of which wear a new high-gloss black chrome chemical finish. Rolls-Royce says the process to create these darkened trim pieces is difficult and painstaking, but necessary to prevent long-term scratching or chipping. We expect nothing less from a company so dedicated to distinctiveness.
The wheels are unique to this trim, too. They almost look like little “Cs” for Cullinan. The 22-inch units wrap around painted brake calipers (a factory first for the brand), which you can get in any color… as long as that color is red. The Cullinan Black Badge is a subtle, stylish improvement to a vehicle that’s already extremely impressive to look at.
Inside is much of the same. Small upgrades over the standard Cullinan make all the difference. A “Technical Fiber” (RR speak for fancy carbon fiber) trim comes standard, and it covers most of the dash and center console, creating a 3D effect. The new Forge Yellow leather, meanwhile, looks exceptional alongside traditional black accents. But the piece de resistance lies above you.
Believe it or not, this is the first Cullinan with Rolls-Royce’s signature “Starlight Headliner.” And it’s even better here. Not only does it consist of 1,344 individual fiber optic cables, and is wholly customizable (you can select any star pattern from any place or point in time), but it also comes with a new “shooting star” feature. Press a button and a stream of light shoots across the artificial sky. If there’s anything more absurdly luxurious, though insanely cool, we haven’t seen it.
The Cullinan Black Badge uses the same colossal 6.7-liter V12 found in the base model. Had you thought this was a monstrous unit prior (with 563 horses and 627 pound-feet), it now produces 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Credit a reflashed ECU for the improvement. Rolls-Royce doesn’t bother to list the time it takes to reach 60 miles per hour or a top speed (because who cares), but this SUV feels noticeably quicker than its 563-hp sibling from behind the wheel.
Power delivery gets an uptick. In “Low” mode (Rolls-Royce’s version of Sport), the remapped throttle and touchier gas pedal help unleash that massive V12’s strengths in a way the base model doesn’t. The Black Badge Cullinan takes far less prodding to get up to speed; the eagerness with which this 6,069-pound mobile penthouse moves in a straight line is awe-inspiring. And it stops just as well, thanks to new brake discs and reduced pedal travel. The best part is, there’s a burbly but subtle exhaust note that emanates from the rear, which is extremely fun to hear from a Rolls-Royce.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge costs $382,000. That’s a lot. But to prospective Cullinan owners, all of whom have likely already ordered theirs anyway, the additional cost of the Black Badge model is inconsequential. To us, it’s like McDonald’s upping their Dollar Menu by 50 cents. Chump change, relatively speaking.
But the improvements the given to the Black Badge over the standard model are worthy enough to justify even the most outrageous cost. The Black Badge model is prettier, posher, and definitely quicker, but still maintains the same borderline-obsessive comfort and capability levels you expect of a Rolls-Royce. It’s so good, in fact, we question why anyone might still consider a base Cullinan knowing that this one exists.
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