Rolls Royce has always done its own thing. Even after being bought by BMW, the Goodwood-based brand has still kept its brand identity. And that brand identity has always been about making the most supremely luxurious and exceptional vehicles, regardless of any other influence. Rolls does Rolls and there’s never been any other way. Until now that is.
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Rolls Royce has just developed a new Black Badge edition for its two-door Wraith. The Rolls Royce Wraith Black Badge is aimed directly at a younger crowd than the brand’s current middle-aged buyer. Think more Kim Kardashian than Helen Mirren. While this wouldn’t be surprising for BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz or even Bentley, it is actually surprising for Rolls Royce.
The team at Goodwood has always been about pure luxury, no flashy gimmicks. Rolls isn’t about trying to impress with numbers, boastful claims or fancy gadgets. Hell, for a time Rolls Royce engineers wouldn’t even disclose horsepower figures, they’d just claim it to be “adequate”. So it’s a bit shocking that Rolls is stooping to a level filled with DJs and Celebrities than actually developing the cars it feels are best.
Obviously, being a Rolls Royce, the Wraith Black Badge is built with nothing but the highest quality. Despite its “all black errthang” styling that is so popular nowadays, it’s still a classy thing to behold. While the interior is more nightclub than it is english smoking room, it’s still superbly built. However, it just fails to evoke the idea of Rolls Royce to me.
A Rolls Royce is supposed to be filled with wood, leather and metal, not strange aluminum and carbon fiber composite. That isn’t a Rolls Royce. If you want carbon fiber in your luxury car, buy a Bentley. Top Gear claims it feels of the highest caliber and is incredibly well made composite. We have no doubt that that’s true. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Now, the Black Badge edition Wraith isn’t just some fancy trim and a new badge. The folks at Goodwood have made some mechanical changes as well. Torque has increased to 642 lb-ft, up 52, a new driveshaft has been added, as well as new suspension suspension tuning, and the transmission has been made more aggressive. All of this means that the new Wraith actually handles better than before and can seriously embarrass sports car. While Rolls still refuses to call it a sports car, and it’s still very much a pure-bred luxury car, it was still the sixth fastest car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Top Gear also recently tested the Wraith Black Badge on a race track in Las Vegas, as strange place to test a Rolls. They away impressed with the big brute and how it was far more capable that expected. While it isn’t a track monster, it’s more at home going quickly than any other Rolls in the past. But, again, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Maybe I’m just old-fashioned and maybe I’m stubborn, but a Rolls is supposed to be that old-world luxury car. It’s supposed to think it’s better than you are, because it probably is. It’s supposed to seem like something men and women of the highest caliber drive, not DJs. Now, obviously, athletes and musicians who can barely read do own Rolls Royces, but that doesn’t mean Rolls should stoop to their level.
This doesn’t mean the Rolls Royce Wraith Black Badge isn’t impressive, because it is. It’s just not the sort of thing I’m used to Rolls Royce making.
[Source: Top Gear]