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Meet the King of the Night

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan: the darkest high-luxury SUV yet.

When the Rolls-Royce Cullinan made its way out of Goodwood and into Manila, it was something of a surprise. It was the first SUV from the luxury automobile maker, and nobody knew what to expect.

Sure, we knew it would be at the absolute top of the line in that category, being a Rolls-Royce. But what would it look like in person? Rolls-Royce didn’t exactly have a lineup that you would call rugged.     

The Cullinan had a more aggressive profile, though it was every bit as sophisticated as the marque’s other models, like the Wraith (their grand tourer) or the Phantom (which is basically their apex model). Now, the Cullinan is getting the Black Badge treatment, and it’s heading a little deeper into dark side territory. 

The Black Badge line doesn’t follow the traditional design cues of high luxury.

The Black Badge is a line of bespoke automobiles, which has since included the Ghost, the Wraith, and the Dawn. Designed for people who don’t really follow the usual codes of luxury,  it’s a near-complete blackout in terms of looks: black chrome, black accents, black paint job.  In other words, it’s for people who like their hyper-luxury, but only if it’s badass. 

And the Cullinan is the darkest one yet. Rolls-Royce is even calling it The King of the Night. 

The Black Badge Cullinan’s signature paint scheme alone takes multiple layers of paint and laquer to achieve, applied and hand-polished 10 times in the Goodwood workshops in England. There’s also the option to choose from 44,000 readily available hues or to commission a bespoke color entirely. The coachline—the thin line of paint running along the side of the Cullinan—is also applied by hand.

The specially made black finish takes multiple layers of paint and laquer to achieve, while the coachliner is hand-applied to the side of the vehicle.

The Spirit of Ecstasy (Rolls-Royce’s icon and muse) is done up in black chrome, giving it a sombre aspect. The marque’s RR badge, meanwhile, gets a similar treatment, instead of the usual black letters over a bright chrome field. The 22-inch forged alloy wheels have also been darkened, and are exclusive to the Black Badge Cullinan.   

Though the iconic Rolls-Royce grille bars seem black, they’re actually polished and reflect the black surfaces that surround them. This is a nice touch of dynamism, giving a bit of movement to the design.

Though they might seem black, the grille bars are polished, Reflecting the black surfaces surrounding them.

Under the hood, the Black Badge Cullinan’s 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine puts out 600 PS of power, which is a jump from the original model’s 571. This is a king that doesn’t mind hitting the country roads. 

Inside, the night-themed scheme continues. A specially developed naked-weave carbon fiber veneer adorns the interior. The Starlight Headliner creates a representation of the night sky hanging above the people inside. Meanwhile, the black leather seats are broken up by touches of a newly created leather color called Forge yellow. Still, you can always change the palette, since bespoke luxury i what Rolls-Royce is all about. 

Rolls-Royce developed a new leather color called Forge Yellow as an accent, though it can also be used on other leather components as well.

“Black Badge reflects the desires of a distinct group of Rolls-Royce clients: men and women who take risks, break rules and build success on their own terms,” says Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

“In this spirit, the time has come for Rolls-Royce’s boldest and darkest expression of Black Badge yet. The King of the Night, Black Badge Cullinan.”

The Starlight Headliner gives riders the impression of being under the night sky.

And sure, that’s a grand claim. But Rolls-Royce didn’t become a byword in high-luxury for nothing. that’s why you get nicknames like Brough Superior’s “the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles” or the “Rolls-Royce of vacuum cleaners” or the “Rolls-Royce of anything.” The Black Badge Cullinan is the literal Rolls-Royce of SUVs.

The King of the Night is an imposing dark figure with more than a little elegance, and enough muscle to back up the title.