I’m at the Yas Marina circuit behind the wheel of a 632hp coupé. But hot laps aren’t part of the agenda today. It’s not the ‘Rolls-Royce way’ we’re gently told. Still, my turquoise-and-white Wraith is one in a quickish convoy of Black Badge Rolls cars wafting around the short loop of the circuit – and by wafting, I mean wafting. There’s all but a hum from the twin-turbo V12, even when I press down hard on the big pedal on the straights, and the build of speed is so deceivingly smooth that you’d think you’re on a morning stroll, though you’re actually sprinting hard. That ‘Power Reserve’ meter – tachometers are perhaps too crass for Rolls-Royce – only reminds you there’s even more to come. It’s when the corners come that I realise, maybe, hotfooting it really isn’t the Rolls-Royce way. The Rolls rolls, and how. But let’s not get caught up in perfunctory details like cornering abilities. Rolls-Royce’s uber-rich clientele surely have a supercar or two in their driveways for the days earmarked for all-out driving. The Rolls? It’s there to make a statement – that you can and have.
Rear-hinged doors give an immense sense of occassion.
What really brings me to Abu Dhabi is the unveil of the Abu Dhabi Sportive Collection – a series of Rolls-Royce Black Badge cars specially commissioned by the dealer in Abu Dhabi. While these one-offs will not be on offer to Indian buyers, they do underline that Rolls-Royce Black Badge need not mean a black Rolls-Royce. Would Sir and Madam like their Black Badge Ghost, Wraith or Dawn in a combination of lime green and black with a matching interior? Done. Canary yellow more your thing? Your wish is Rolls-Royce’s command. The common thread between the cars and the basic points of difference to the ‘standard’ Rolls-Royces remain the Black Badge versions’ blacked-out Spirit of Ecstasy and Pantheon grille. And of course, those gladiator shield-like, gorgeous 21-inch wheels; incidentally made of titanium, aluminum and carbon. The 30-year-old billionaire in me approves.
The many shapes and shades of Rolls-Royce Black Badge.
And that’s precisely what Black Badge is about. It’s Rolls-Royce, ever the traditionalist, embracing a world where the average age of a millionaire is falling with each passing year. How big a chunk of those millions would a Black Badge set you back by? Well, if you have to ask...
The Wraith stands out for its fastback tail. Also, check those wheels.
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