Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost makes dark debut in Middle East

It's a dusky ride, but the new arrival from the luxury car manufacturer couldn't merge into the shadows of Dubai even if it wanted to

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Anyone who watched BBC TV’s Inside Dubai: Playground of the Rich might be forgiven for thinking the city’s streets are awash with supercars.

The reality is that the likes of Nissan Sunnys, Toyota Camrys, and Mitsubishi Pajeros are considerably more common than anything on the flashier end of the spectrum (though we leave out Nissan Patrols and Toyota Land Cruisers from this list, as their presence is obvious to even the most casual observer).

Proof of this point is the appearance of the new Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost, which the manufacturer was keen to show off on the streets of Dubai when the model made its Middle East debut. A fleet of four cars drew glances from every angle as those behind the wheel travelled in a convoy during rush hour, with most of the drivers not being averse to the attention at all.

This is no great surprise, as any Rolls-Royce you’d care to mention in the nearly-120-year lifetime of the brand has ever been what you’d call unattractive. Some expressed doubts about the borderline Cadillac stylings of the 1970’s Camargue, but that remains a moot point.

Rolls-Royce describes the Black Badge Ghost as being bolder in performance and attitude, citing it as the “most potent manifestation of Rolls-Royce yet”.

Marketing vernacular is frequently a mystery to anyone residing outside the office from where the words first originated, but the manufacturer seems to have hit upon something here. The car is, indeed, notably different to any model that has come before it.

You still have the same build quality, of course, and the ride sensation that Rolls-Royce likens to travelling on a magic carpet, but the Black Badge Ghost feels... well, different. And it's a good different.

You won't have to worry about rain ruining the paintwork.

For a start, this vehicle is aimed at a younger crowd, which is unusual from the off.

Also, despite its name, the Black Badge Ghost is not only available in black but rather 44,000 ready-to-wear colours. The name is an indication that there is, for want of a better phrase, something of the night about the vehicle.

The Spirit of Ecstasy figurine has been finished in a dark-chrome electrolyte, which is as far from the traditional, shiny emblem as it’s possible to imagine.

Similarly, the carbon-alloy composite wheels, complete with that RR symbol at the centre that magically remains straight no matter how fast you’re going, are notable for now having brightly coloured calipers, which is more the sort of thing you’d expect from a heads-down-and-charge sports job.

The dark theme continues inside, with the starlight fascia and roof giving a more authentic sense of the night sky than on any previous model.

We did say it was different.

More common to the brand though is the 6.75-litre V12 engine, which you can pep up with what the manufacturer calls "low mode". This will speed up gear changes by 50 per cent and gives the car a definite sense of urgency.

The inside is, as usual, luxury personified. The centre console is easy to navigate and, unlike some modern cars, the entire dash is uncluttered.

Rolls-Royces have always been on the big side, but driving the Black Badge Ghost feels effortless. Larger vehicles generally have a serenity that smaller vehicles often lack, but this one dispenses with the drama altogether. It almost hovers.

This is what exemplifies the Black Badge Ghost, really — Rolls-Royce moving away from the idea that people who buy their cars employ chauffeurs, though that is something many will opt for. This is a car to drive, and something posh enough for others to find engaging. The whole dark thing will also offer plenty of appeal to those who still have an inclination towards the alternative side of life.

Updated: February 25, 2022, 11:58 AM