The Cullinan may have proven controversial amongst the chattering classes since its launch last year, but the 42 per cent increase in sales it has helped its maker enjoy in the interim will be anything but to shareholders. Now it's become the latest Rolls-Royce to receive the Black Badge treatment, a decision likely to fuel both outrage and sales in equal measure - so what's new?
Well, although the twin-turbo 6.75-litre V12 remains unchanged mechanically, the wide margins provided by such a gargantuan motor have allowed for an increase in output. New totals of 600hp and 664lb ft - improvements of 30hp and 37lb ft respectively - along with a new "authoritative" exhaust system and unique settings for the transmission, throttle and four-wheel steer are said to create "a sense of urgency without ever undermining its Rolls-Royce peerage."
Making a 2,660kg SUV sportier involves more than improving its sense of acceleration, however, so changes to suspension settings and components, decreased pedal travel, a lower bite point for the brakes and improved disc ventilation are all said to "bolster confidence" in the face of that extra grunt.
As with any Rolls-Royce product, the integrity of the fit and finish will likely be second to none. In this case that pursuit of perfection has led to the creation of a new interior veneer dubbed 'Technical Carbon'. A naked-weave carbon-fibre with a "powerful three-dimensional effect", each leaf of Technical Carbon is said to be finished with six coats of lacquer before being left to cure for 72 hours and then hand-polished to a mirror finish. The entire process lasts 21 days and is paired with new 'Forge Yellow' leather to result in something that will be either abhorrent or amazing, depending on whether you have a side in the KSI vs Logan Paul rematch or not.
The Cullinan Black Badge is said to have been created for "a subset of individuals who seek to subvert the motor car's domineering presence by permanently cloaking it in the night." And while it may be true that the Cullinan's design is best suited to near total darkness, Rolls-Royce has gone to some lengths to ensure it blends in further still. A high-gloss black Spirit of Ecstasy is joined by polished black vertical grille bars, dark chrome grille surrounds, door trim and exhaust pipes, and all-new 22-inch gloss black wheels.
The latter do come paired with the first ever coloured brake calipers to grace a Rolls-Royce vehicle (oh the humanity!), however, items which are available in a shade of high-gloss red. And if all that dark metal proves a little too much then clients can commission their own entirely bespoke shade of paint for the bodywork, should Rolls' 44,000 existing options not suffice.
The result of all these changes is "an extremely well-mannered tourer at low speeds and a vivid driver's device when pressed,'' says Rolls. How true that is remains to be seen, but from a tagline at launch of 'Effortless, Everywhere', it does now look as if the Cullinan is trying just a bit too hard.
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