You won’t find the word “sporty” anywhere in the literature for the new Black Badge versions of the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Wraith. So what on earth are they doing at Homestead Miami Speedway? A race track is surely the last place you would expect to see a Roller, right?
Rolls-Royce may be loathe to attach a word as vulgar as “sporty” to the Black Badge models, but it does speak of sharper responses and a “thrilling driving experience”. You see, these cars are aimed at a different type of buyer. In this context, “different” actually means “younger”. In recent years, the average age of a Rolls-Royce owner has dropped from 55 to 43 and the company would like to see that fall even further. Hence the Black Badge cars, which are aimed at a younger demographic who still want a car that serves up the ultimate in luxury, but want that car to be reasonably athletic to drive, as well.
Both the Ghost and Wraith Black Badge feature tauter air suspension, recalibrated steering and brakes, carbon composite wheels, a new transmission that holds onto gears longer, and a useful chunk more oomph. The Wraith doesn’t actually gain any more power, staying at a plentiful 624 horsepower (465 kilowatts), but torque is boosted by 52 pound-feet (70 Newton meters) for a thumping total of 642 lb/ft (870 Nm). The Ghost, meanwhile, gets an extra 32 hp (24 kW) for a total of 603 hp (450 kW), and torque goes up to 620 lb/ft (840 Nm).
The effects of the changes are profound. In this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed Supercar Shootout, the Wraith Black Badge finished an unbelievable eighth overall, beaten only by proper supercars and lightweight track day specials. And it did that while trailing totally unseemly but utterly glorious clouds of tire smoke.
So you can see the logic in holding a customer event at Homestead. It gets across the message that the Black Badge is a Rolls-Royce, Jim, but not as we know it.