You shouldn't drive a car like this unless you can afford to crash it.

As I pull out of the Rolls-Royce showroom in Newmarket, Auckland, I can barely breathe knowing that this car is not only worth as much as a house, but also that it is close to being sold. This means I'm probably the one journalist in New Zealand who will get to drive it.

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost is astoundingly good, but to get to that conclusion, you first need to forget about the $838,000 price (drive away!). 

This is a Rolls that will do 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds, but has a picnic table, champagne fridge, massage seats, self-closing doors and starlit interior ceiling. It is the same size as an American pickup truck — 5.5m long and 2.1m wide. 

The ride is cloud-like and the interior silent.  

The Black Badge Ghost sports a turbo-charged 6.75-litre V12 engine generating 441kW of power with a max torque of 900Nm. Although this is the same engine as the standard Ghost, it has been souped up to provide an extra 21kW of power.

It uses about 16 litres of petrol per 100km and pumps out 345 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, which is massive. Rolls-Royce has already committed to a fully-electric future and will release its first EV, the Spectre, next year.

It has a mode simply called “low”. Depressing a button on the gear selection stalk amplifies the sound from its entirely new exhaust system, increases gear-shift speed by 50% and provides all 900Nm of torque from just 1700rpm. Just the sort of thing to get the billionaire in your life away from those nasty kidnappers/protesters/shareholders.

I leave it in this sports mode the entire time; I suspect everyone will. Steering is light and gives no sense of the weight of such a big vehicle.

More than any car I've driven, it attracts attention. In the couple of hours I cautiously drive it around Auckland, we are photographed and videoed continuously. People pop out of stores to have a look and a chat.

It looks like a less-blingy version of the standard Ghost and is unarguably beautiful in Arctic white with black highlights. 

Opening the French doors reveals something new. Gone is the luxury leather and wooden interior of a normal Ghost. The Black Badge Ghost’s interior is not elegant, it’s dramatic, with stunning black and white materials that are unlike anything I have  seen. Rolls-Royce calls it “post opulent”. I suspect it is more post-boomer.

The Black Badge Ghost is Rolls-Royce's edgiest design yet.



The Black Badge editions are aimed at a younger, hipper crowd. Or, as Rolls-Royce global CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös says in marketing material for the car, “The rule-breaker, the risk-taker and the iconoclast.”

Black Badge is now an option across the whole Rolls-Royce range and they are selling like hotcakes.

One of the reasons Rolls-Royce can pull off a feat like this is that it knows its clients. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. And that gives the carmaker unparalleled insight into what they want to buy. 

“In the 2020s, these women and men engage with luxury products on their own terms,” Müller-Ötvös says. “They reject suits for streetwear, use blockchain, not banks, and influence the analogue world through their digital endeavours. In doing so, they have created new codes of luxury that resonate with their sensibilities: darker in aesthetic, assertive in character and bold in design.”

To meet this market, and reposition the brand with the younger super wealthy, the Black Badge models have new colour palettes, different “technical surface treatments”, and more power. 

The RR badge is black, the chrome is pared back and the voluminous front Pantheon Grille is black and backlit. You can choose from 44,000 ready-to-wear colours, or even go bespoke.

Rolls-Royce reckons it is “edgy”.

The dashboard in front of the passenger has about 900 lights in it to create a stunning illumination to match the now-iconic starlight ceiling.

The interior comes in a variety of 'technical surface treatments'.


“We ensured the ongoing relevance of our brand,” says Müller-Ötvös. “We drove down our age profile… we opened the door to a new, younger set of clients.” 

More than a quarter of sales globally are now Black Badge, but it is this new Ghost that Rolls-Royce says is its most technically advanced.

Rolls-Royce has more than 3500 orders for the standard and Black Badge Ghost. To put that in context, Rolls-Royce sold 5586 cars last year, the best year in its 117-year history.

The first New Zealand Black Badge Ghost has been sold even before the car is officially on the market here, and will be delivered from the factory within six months, hand-built to the purchaser’s needs. In this case it will be totally black.

But as exclusive as Rolls-Royce is, anyone is welcome to walk in off the street and Rolls-Royce New Zealand brand manager Ruwan Siriwardena will show them around. “Demystifying the brand” has been a big part of its New Zealand success. Last year, 13 cars were sold – the same as in the year before, and up on just eight in the previous few years. However, in just January this year, four were sold, according to the Motor Industry Association, so it looks like Rolls-Royce will have another record year.

The Black Badge Ghost has all-wheel steering. 


BusinessDesk has a strong association with the brand – we borrowed a Cullinan to tow a billboard around Auckland saying “Follow the money” when we launched. It was amazing to email Rolls-Royce and ask if we could borrow a $500,000 car for a couple of days and get an immediate response of, “Yeah, sure.”

The Black Badge Ghost is built on an all-aluminium platform that delivers extraordinary stiffness. It also has all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and the Rolls-Royce planar suspension system, which has been tweaked with bigger air springs to allow it to prevent body roll under assertive steering.

It’s a quite amazing marketing case study — Rolls-Royce has identified a new market segment of wealthy rule breakers and reinvented its offering to serve that segment while maintaining its traditional base. In doing so, it has set the company up for years ahead. 

I imagine you may one day see one of these Black Badge Ghosts in the garages of CEOs from the likes of Rocket Lab, Vend, Soul Machines or Ninja Kiwi.