The Rolls-Royce Cullinan joins the Black Badge family with more power and dark bling

The 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge is a version of the Cullinan, the British company’s first-ever SUV. Designed for "younger, more adventurous clients," the Black Badge is basically a package that adds darker trim on the outside and extra, unique features on the inside. It also comes with extra power and torque, so it can also be considered a higher performance version of the standard Cullinan. The SUV is the fourth Rolls-Royce available with the Black Badge treatment, following the Wraith and Ghost in 2016 and the Dawn in 2017. Let’s find out what makes it special in the review below.

What makes the 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge special?

  • Dark chrome trim
  • Bespoke black paint
  • Unique 22-inch, two-tone wheels
  • Carbon-fiber trim
  • Bespoke yellow leather
  • All the options you can dream of
  • Upgraded V-12 engine
  • 592 horsepower
  • 664 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds
  • Top Speed at 155 mph
  • Revised braking system
  • New exhaust system
  • The most expensive Cullinan
2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge Exterior
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Design-wise, the Black Badge is simply a trim level with a handful of features that stand out. It’s very similar to BMW’s Shadow Line and Mercedes’ Night Package, adding darker chrome and black trim to reduce the amount of sheen and give the exterior a slightly sportier look. In this case, it starts off with the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot on the hood, which now features a high-gloss black chrome finish. For the first-ever on a Rolls-Royce, the finish extends onto the mounting plate.

The same goes for the front grille surround, side frame finishers, trunk handle, trunk trim, lower air inlets, and exhaust pipes. The vertical grille bars, on the other hand, remain polished, but they also appear black because they reflect the darkened surfaces around them.

2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge Exterior
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To go with the darker chrome, Rolls-Royce created a special black paint for this model with multiple layers of paint and lacquer that are polished by hand ten times. Needless to say, the Black Badge’s front end looks menacing in this specific paint and with the darkened grille and Spirit of Ecstacy, but it might not be as spectacular in a different color.

The Black Badge model also rides on exclusive 22-inch wheels made from forged alloy. But the cool thing about them is the gear-like design and the two-tone finish combining gloss-black and polished surfaces. This is also the first Rolls-Royce offered with color brake calipers, painted high-gloss red as standard.

2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge Interior
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Move inside the cabin, and you’ll discover the same luxurious interior as in the regular Cullinan. However, the Black Badge bundle adds a few extras, starting with what Rolls-Royce calls Technical Carbon veneer. This is actually exposed carbon-fiber but crafted through a special process so that it replicates repeating geometrical shapes. It’s inspired by urban architecture and produces a three-dimensional effect. Each "leaf" is finished with six coats of lacquer before being left to cure for 72 hours and then hand-polished to a mirror finish. This process takes 21 days and is only deemed complete once all 23 pieces inside the car are inspected by a craftsperson. It’s details like these that make a Rolls-Royce expensive, and its processes like these that customers want to hear about.

2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge Interior
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Rolls-Royce also created a new leather color for the Cullinan Black Badge. It’s called Forge Yellow, and it’s a bright shade of yellow that you wouldn’t expect to find in a Rolls-Royce. This hue is also available for stitching and other details, and it’s a breath of fresh air in a luxurious car that’s usually either black or white, or a combination of both. But just like the regular Cullinan, the Black Badge is available with an almost infinite choice of interior color combinations.

Another unique feature is the Infinity motif embroidered into the fold-down rear armrest, incorporated in the illuminated door sills, and engraved on the brushed steel clock case on the dashboard. The red-tipped clock hands and instrument cluster needless are also unique to this model. If you’re a fan of the company’s Starlight headliner, it comes in black leather on this model, and it’s handwoven with 1,344 fiber optic lights that display an authentic reflection of the night sky.

Is the 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge more powerful than the standard model?

2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge Exterior
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Like all Black Badge models before it, the Cullinan Black Badge is a bit more powerful than the regular version. It features the same twin-turbo, 6.75-liter V-12 engine, but this mill has been revised to generate 592 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. That’s an extra 29 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of twist compared to the regular Cullinan.

Is the 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge quicker and faster than the standard model?

2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge Exterior
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Rolls-Royce didn’t release performance figures for the Black Badge model, but it’s safe to say that the extra power and torque won’t make much of a difference in a sprint from 0 to 60 mph. The regular Cullinan needs 4.5 seconds to get there, and the Black Badge model should be just as quick. The same applies to top speed ratings, as the Black Badge version should be limited to the same 155-mph mark.

How does the 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge compare to its rivals?

2021 Bentley Bentayga Speed Exterior
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As a super-luxury SUV, the Cullinan has just one rival, the Bentley Bentayga. Unlike the Cullinan, the Bentayga is available with four different drivetrains: a W-12, a V-8, a V-6 hybrid, and a V-8 diesel. Based on trim ranking alone, the Cullinan Black Badge is a competitor for the Bentley Bentayga Speed. This model comes with a twin-turbo, 6.0-liter W-12 rated at 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque under the hood. The Speed and the Black Badge feature identical torque, but the Bentayga wins the horsepower battle thanks to an extra 34 horses.

As far as performance goes, the Bentayga Speed hits 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, seven-tenths quicker than the Cullinan. The Speed also delivers a superior top speed at 190 mph, 35 mph more than the Black Badge. Actually, the Bentayga Speed is the fastest production SUV in the world, a title it shares with the Lamborghini Urus.

2021 Bentley Bentayga Speed Exterior
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The more powerful engine mates to a revised eight-speed automatic transmission, but everything else remains mostly the same. Just like its regular counterpart, it features rear-axle steering. However, Rolls-Royce raised the braking point and decreased pedal travel to improve confidence while braking, while the new exhaust system allows the V-12 engine to growl louder than before.

How much does the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge cost?

2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge Exterior
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The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge starts from $382,000, which is some $50,000 more than the regular SUV. However, the Black Badge will easily exceed $430,000 with bespoke options.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
About the author

“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. Indeed, before we launched Black Badge in 2016 the idea of creating a product that would satisfy this subversive cohort – that is highly dynamic and wilfully rebellious in aesthetic – caused a great deal of internal debate. However, once the marque’s designers, engineers and craftspeople began pursuing this dramatic alter ego, it became clear that these motor cars could not only exist comfortably beneath this revered and historic brand but they would define a new space within the super-luxury market. 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.”

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Introduction
At the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars presented Black Badge; a permanent Bespoke family of motor cars that defined the taste patterns of an emerging generation of super-luxury consumer. These unapologetic and highly dynamic products responded to those who refused to be defined by traditional codes of luxury and did much to attract new customers to the marque, reassured by Rolls-Royce’s fluency in their bold aesthetic and uncompromising lifestyle requirements.

This highly successful alter ego is codified by the mathematical symbol that represents a potential infinity, which is placed discreetly within the motor car’s interior. This marking, known also as the lemniscate, was applied to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s record-breaking Rolls-Royce-powered Blue Bird K3 hydroplane, denoting that it belonged to an insurance class reserved for boats with unlimited and therefore infinite engine power. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars selected this hallmark for Black Badge to reflect its own unrelenting pursuit of power.

Rolls-Royce debuted Black Badge with Wraith and Ghost in 2016 followed by Dawn in 2017. Today, the family is completed with the introduction of Black Badge Cullinan: the darkest and most urban statement of Black Badge yet.

Cullinan Goes Black
Created to satisfy overwhelming demand from younger, more adventurous clients, Cullinan in its silver badge guise, was launched to global acclaim in 2018, immediately becoming the world’s pinnacle super-luxury SUV. Combining luxury in its purest form with genuine practicality and off-road capability, Cullinan unequivocally delivered on the promise of an experience that is Effortless, Everywhere.

The Rolls-Royce of SUVs did much to reach a new group of clients looking for unfettered access to the world’s wildest places and most enriching experiences. Yet, within this group exists a subset of individuals who seek to subvert the motor car’s domineering presence by permanently cloaking it in the night. Cullinan has conquered the world’s wildest reaches. Now it is time for Black Badge Cullinan to conquer new urban frontiers.

Black Badge Cullinan Exterior: The King of the Night
While clients can draw on the marque’s 44,000 ‘ready to wear’ paint options or commission an entirely individual Bespoke hue, it is anticipated that many will opt for Black Badge’s signature Black. Multiple layers of paint and lacquer are meticulously applied and hand-polished 10 times at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, West Sussex, representing the most comprehensive surface finish process ever applied to a solid paint colour. The depth and intensity of Black Badge Cullinan’s coachwork serves as the perfect canvas upon which to throw a contrasting hand-painted Coachline into stark relief.

On the prow of the motor car lies the defining expression of Black Badge. The Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, which has taken many forms throughout the marque’s history, is presented in high gloss black chrome. For the first time this finish extends onto its mounting plate, creating the darkest Black Badge yet.

This transformation pervades the other symbols of Black Badge. The ‘Double R’ badge on the front, flanks and aft invert to become silver-on-black, while chrome surfaces such as the front grille surround, side frame finishers, boot handle, boot trim, lower air inlet finisher and exhaust pipes are darkened. While they appear black, the vertical grille bars remain polished, reflecting the blackened surfaces that surround them to add a frisson of movement that hints at the motor car’s dynamic intent.

The overall effect artfully simplifies and enlarges the motor car’s exterior design graphics, emphasising its imposing proportions and confident stance. This is further dramatised by all-new 22-inch forged alloy wheels, reserved exclusively for Black Badge Cullinan. Designed in the Black Badge house style, the gear-like graphic emphasises the model’s vast reserves of power while also recalling an infinitely occurring lemniscate.

The gloss black and polished design also creates the perfect stage for the marque’s first ever coloured brake caliper. The high gloss Red paint has been specifically developed to withstand the rigours of elevated temperatures generated by the motor car’s uprated braking system while still offering a perfectly smooth finish befitting of Rolls-Royce.

Black Badge Cullinan Interior: Superlative comfort. Audacious design
Ordinarily, great efforts are expelled to distance occupants from a Rolls-Royce’s mechanical function. However, the marque’s Colour and Trim experts gently sensationalised the engineering substance of Black Badge, seamlessly blending superlative comfort, bold aesthetics, advanced materials and precise, meticulous craftsmanship.

This ethos is perfectly embodied by Black Badge Cullinan’s Technical Carbon veneer. In the spirit of Sir Henry Royce’s founding philosophy, “When it does not exist, design it”, a collaboration between the marque’s designers, engineers and craftspeople saw the creation of a new luxury material. Inspired by masterpieces of urban architecture, a naked-weave carbon-fibre finish has been developed to create highly accurate repeating geometrical shapes that produce a powerful three-dimensional effect.

Each leaf of Technical Carbon is finished with six coats of lacquer before being left to cure for 72 hours then hand-polished to Rolls-Royce’s hallmark mirror finish. This process takes 21 days and is only deemed complete once every piece is inspected by a craftsperson to ensure complete reflective uniformity across each of the 23 pieces within the car.

Starlight Headliner has joined historical Rolls-Royce iconography such as the Spirit of Ecstasy, Pantheon Grille and ‘Double R’ monogram. Its presence in Black Badge Cullinan intensifies the cabin’s ambience by casting a low light over the lavish leather seats. Presented in fine Black leather, handwoven with 1344 fibre optic lights, it is a true reflection of the sky at night and incorporates eight brilliant white shooting stars that dart at random predominantly over the front occupants, subtly acknowledging the motor car’s owner-driver appeal.

Reflecting the marque’s Bespoke philosophy, Black Badge Cullinan benefits from a near-infinitely configurable interior colour palette. Black Badge clients often use interior space as a stage to create dramatic high contrast colourways, so for Cullinan Rolls-Royce’s Colour and Trim designers created a bold new leather colour, Forge Yellow, to offer as part of the brand’s curated collection. As with all leather colours, this can be commissioned for the motor car’s Viewing Suite or incorporated into the design of a highly Bespoke Recreation Module tailored to the client’s exacting specification.

A final touch completes the interior seating: the Infinity lemniscate motif is embroidered into the fold-down rear arm-rest as an elegant reminder of the power contained within. This simple but potent symbol is also incorporated in the illuminated treadplates and engraved on the brushed and darkened steel clock case. Red-tipped clock hands and instrument display needles also serve as a discreet reminder of the motor car’s dynamic prowess.

Black Badge Cullinan Engineering. The Architecture of Luxury’s dark side
Black Badge is far more than an aesthetic treatment. In creating this class of motor car, it was of vital importance for Rolls-Royce to conceive a meticulously considered dynamic personality that perfectly harmonised with the motor car’s remarkable visual identity. Indeed, the exceptionally high expectations of the marque’s clients defined a rigorous testing protocol lasting more than three years to ensure that Black Badge Cullinan was relevant to their needs.

Key to the visceral thrill of Black Badge Cullinan is the Architecture of Luxury, Rolls-Royce’s proprietary all-aluminium architecture that debuted with Phantom. The sub-structure not only delivers extraordinary body stiffness but its flexibility and scalability allowed Cullinan to be fitted with all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering in its silver badged guise. These dynamic features have been comprehensively exploited and re-engineered for Black Badge while retaining the peerless quality of ride that has driven Rolls-Royce’s success.

The Architecture of Luxury has been engineered to meet size and weight requirements of different propulsion systems. When the driver presses the ‘Low’ button situated on the gear selection stalk, they unlock Black Badge Cullinan’s full suite of technologies. This is asserted by the proud amplification of the motor car’s 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 through an entirely new exhaust system, announcing its arrival with a deep, authoritative basso profundo.

It was deemed unnecessary to make changes to the engine’s ample internal capacity, however the flexibility of the twin-turbo V12 has been exploited to generate an extra 29PS creating a total output of 600PS. The sense of a single, infinite gear has also been sensationalised with the addition of a further 50NM of torque, bringing the total to a 900NM.

Black Badge Cullinan benefits from a Bespoke transmission and throttle treatment that creates a sense of urgency without ever undermining its Rolls-Royce peerage. The drive-train, ZF 8-speed gear box and both front and rear steered axles work collaboratively to adjust the levels of engagement depending on throttle and steering inputs. Changes to suspension components and settings add to the suite of dynamic technologies that ensure an appropriate balance between dynamism and refinement. The result is an extremely well-mannered tourer at low speeds and a vivid driver’s device when pressed.

To bolster confidence when exploiting Cullinan’s alter ego, the braking bite point has been raised and pedal travel decreased. Redesigned brake disc ventilation also allows consistency in these changes while braking at elevated temperatures.

Black Badge Cullinan is now available to commission.

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