2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge review: Stealth standout

This is truly the pinnacle of luxury SUVs.

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

Despite what you might think from its name, there is more to this Rolls-Royce Cullinan than a black paint and a dark chrome finish. Sure, the Black Badge treatment largely caters to folks who want all the sumptuousness of a six-figure SUV with a slightly more covert approach. But I’ll actually argue that the best thing about this SUV isn’t what you can see, it’s what you can’t.

Like it

  • It has all the luxury features you could ever want
  • Smooth and powerful V12 engine
  • Great to drive, better to be guided inside
  • The Black Badge style is subtle and chic

I do not like

  • Clunky infotainment technology without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • I can not afford it

For starters, the 6.75-liter V12 engine gets a small but noticeable increase in power, thanks to a reflash of the ECU. The standard Cullinan puts out a non-inconsistent horsepower of 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, but the Black Badge increases it to 592 hp and 664 lb-ft. There’s also a sporty driving setting – activated by pressing the “Low” button on the shift lever – which improves throttle response and unlocks more aggressive shift logic for the eight-speed automatic transmission.

It also really works; the Black Badge Cullinan has a new momentum in its stride. You can feel the added power in acceleration and I love how the transmission is more than willing to immediately drop a gear or two when I hit the accelerator. The Black Badge gets a new exhaust system, with a kind of sonic playfulness you wouldn’t expect from a brand that’s normally so buttoned up. It will catch you off guard at first, but I promise you, those pops and gurglings are from the Cullinan, not some other machine.

With great power comes great responsibility and Rolls-Royce mounts a larger set of brake discs on the Black Badge Cullinan to stop everything quickly. Reduced pedal travel and an improved bite point also make stopping this 6,000-pound behemoth less of an event. I’m not sure how I feel about the red painted calipers here, which are apparently non-negotiable, but I have to believe that Rolls-Royce is willing to bend the rules for buyers who spend enough money on the problem.

The Cullinan’s air suspension has a stiffer default setting for Black Badge service, and while it slightly reduces body movement when cornering, I won’t try to convince you that this SUV is suddenly a canyon carver. The steering is light and effortless, and you can feel each of the aforementioned 6,000 pounds when you throw this big guy into a corner.

This isn’t even the best seat in the house.

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

Fortunately, none of this added verve comes at the expense of overall ride quality. Black Badge or not, this is still a Rolls-freaking-Royce, and whether you’re whizzing down the freeway or just frolicking through traffic through Beverly Hills, it’s as smooth, comfortable, quiet and adorable as any car that proudly carries a Spirit. of Ecstasy on its prow. Driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance make an already serene experience even less stressful. Blissfully isolated from the outside world, the Cullinan truly makes you and your passengers feel like the wealthy aristocrats that you are.

What else does the Black Badge specification offer you? The Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, grille and a few trim pieces are finished in high-gloss black chrome, and those big red brake calipers are placed behind a unique set of 22-inch wheels. Moving inside, Rolls-Royce’s “technical fiber” upholstery is standard – think of it as a 3D-looking carbon fiber – and you can order the SUV with a new Forge Yellow interior option, which this test car has . The rich yellow hue on the leather seats and wool floor mats definitely isn’t for everyone, but I like it. Just make sure you keep those mats clean.

The Black Badge also represents the first time that Rolls-Royce offers its starlight headliner in the Cullinan. Also available on Ghost, Ghost and Wraith, this super cool feature uses 1,344 fiber optic lights built into the headliner to bring the night sky into the car. There is a dimmer switch so you can increase or decrease the intensity and a “shooting star” effect works as you would imagine, sending small flashes of light from side to side. If that’s not enough, Rolls-Royce will also customize the headlining so that its design represents any part of the night sky as it would have appeared on a certain date or from a specific location. Yes, really. (For future orders for printing presses, Rolls-Royce, I’d like the sky as seen from Detroit, Michigan on February 26, 1986.)

Yes, you can order it in colors other than black.

Steven Ewing / Roadshow

Everything else that is special about the Cullinan is not exclusive to the Black Medal. The interior is exquisite to look at and all the materials are great. The switches and buttons have great tactility, and the action of the metal plungers of the vents has a satisfactory weight. Heated and massaging seats pamper you like nothing else out there. From automatic door closing buttons to heated and massaging seats to iced crystal champagne flutes in the compartment between the rear thrones, the Cullinan is 100% Rolls-Royce opulence.

As easy as it is to get wrapped up in all that luxury, there are a couple of pain points I have to address. The cargo area is smaller than you think, and the sleek retractable tailgate seats on this tester (which are very nice, I assure you) take up quite a bit of space. The Cullinan’s multimedia system also presents a number of headaches. It’s essentially a revamped version of BMW’s old iDrive 6 technology, which is a bit clunky to use and lacks support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. For a company so focused on relaxed motoring, this extra stress in the car is a downside.

Following the Black Badge path will earn you $ 57,000 more than Cullinan’s $ 325,000 asking price, and when you get it optioned the way you want, be prepared to spend at least $ 425,000 or so, all-in. That’s a lot of money for plebs like you and me, but remember, no one is stretching their budget to put a Cullinan in the driveway. For these folks, spending an extra $ 57K on the Black Badge is a breeze. And good for them, because it’s a useful upgrade that makes an already decadent SUV even better.

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