The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Just Got the Black Badge Treatment

The marque goes after a younger demographic with Its now edgier SUV.

By Howard Walker 10/11/2019

Rolls-Royce is finally taking its Cullinan SUV over to the Dark Side. The new Vader-inspired Black Badge Cullinan is, according to Rolls-Royce “the boldest and darkest expression of Black Badge yet.”

Like the sinister Black Badge versions of the Wraith, Ghost and Dawn, the Cullinan gets the full noir treatment. Pretty much every piece of chrome has been chemically darkened, rather than painted or coated, to give a smokey hue that doesn’t chip or peel.

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan.

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan. Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Up front, that iconic Parthenon grille gets the full Sith treatment, along with the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. The latter has a full-body coating of high gloss black chrome. In fact, chrome around the windows, along the base of the doors, around the trunk and the tailpipes, all goes back to black.

Complimenting this appearance is a set of new 22-inch forged alloys, which will be unique to this Cullinan edition. Whereas the other Black Badge siblings come with carbon-fibre rims, the Cullinan’s portly 6,069-pound heft demands more substantial wheels. Also a first on a production Rolls-Royce are red-painted brake calipers.

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan.

The Black Badge Cullinan’s 600 hp, 6.75-liter twin-turbo V-12. Photo by Harvey Briggs, courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

See this new Cullinan Black Badge in profile and this new exterior blackening makes the SUV appear visually less top-heavy and lower to the ground. Climb aboard, and the cabin is a sea of high-gloss carbon fibre-trim that stretches across the dash, centre console and doors. A new weaving technique, called Technical Carbon, creates repeating three-dimensional geometric shapes. Before being fitted, the panels get six coats of lacquer and 72 hours of hand-polishing to create that mirror finish.

Equally impressive is the Cullinan’s first, and much-demanded, Starlight headliner, with its 1344 individual twinkling fibre optic ends. And if that isn’t cool enough, there’s also a new “shooting star” feature that randomly uses groups of eight, brighter-white fibre optics to dart across the roof.

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan.

The Black Badge Cullinan’s vast rear seating area under its new Starlight headliner’s 1344 fibre-optic lights. Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Add to all this a love-it-or-hate-it new colour of leather—a mustardy hue called Forge Yellow. With this shade for the seats, inner door pockets, the top of the dash and even the deep-pile wool mats, it’s definitely an acquired taste.

All this would be pure window dressing if it wasn’t for the upgrades in performance, handling and braking that come with the Black Badge spec.

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan.

The interior accented in Forge Yellow trim. Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

The Cullinan’s big 6.75-litre twin-turbo V-12 gets a 29hp (21kW) power boost to take the new output to a nice round 600hp (447kW). The potent V-12 also gets an extra 50Nm of torque to deliver a mighty 900Nm in total. It takes the vehicle’s zero-to-100kmh time down from 5.2 seconds to 4.9 seconds. And hitting the Low button on the transmission stalk will open up the car’s revised exhaust to give a throatier, deeper rumble.

Rolls engineers have also given this new Cullinan tighter suspension to sharpen the handling, while still retaining the SUV’s buttery, magic-carpet ride. There are also changes to the braking system that include new, better heat-dissipating rotors, and reduced brake pedal travel.

All this, it seems, is a result of a new generation of younger, more diverse, self-made buyers requesting a more dynamic, edgier-looking Cullinan, says Martin Fritsches, president of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars America in an exclusive interview with Robb Report.

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Cullinan.

The Cullinan’s tony way to tailgate. Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

How young? “The average age of our buyers is now below 40,” says Fritsches. “Many of our Cullinan buyers are in their mid-to-late 30s, even early 20s. And over 60 per cent of buyers are new to the brand. We call it the Cullinan Effect. And right now, one in five of our customers are buying Black Badge models. With the Cullinan Black Badge, we expect the ratio to increase to maybe one-in-three.”

Fritsches notes that dealers are already working with customers to commission Cullinan Black Badge models, and expects the first examples to be delivered early next year.   While Moving to the Dark Side will set you back $760,000 + on roads, it certainly seems to be paying off for this 113-year-old brand.


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

EVs Are The Future, But Are They Really That Eco-Friendly?

It’s not easy being green, but the EV industry is addressing sustainability issues to further clean up processes.

By Jason H. Harper


Inside The 7-Year Quest to Build The World’s Largest Sailboat

Dream Symphony may be the most amazing boat we’ll never see.

By Julia Zaltzman


Robb Review: Bentley Continental GT Speed

The 2022 model is an amplification of the well-honed grand-touring formula.

By Basem Wasef


Robb Review: Genesis GV80

Can a well-appointed Korean SUV make us believe in the concept of ‘affordable luxury’?

By Robb Report Staff


Rolls-Royce Just Flew A Boeing 747 Jumbo Using 100% Sustainable Fuel

The 747’s Trent 1000 turbofan engine ran solely on unblended biofuel that reduces carbon emissions by 80%.

By Rachel Cormack


Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected