It’s not every day that you a chance to sit in a R9- or R10-million vehicle. Today was that day. We were invited to the opening of a Rolls-Royce boutique store at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. This ‘social hot-spot’ will be open until the end of February 2017 and currently has the Rolls Royce Wraith Black Badge on display. Elise Kirsten headed down to take a look:
When I arrived at the Rolls-Royce boutique store, the Wraith Black Badge rested under a shadowy cloak of ebony cloth waiting to be unveiled. I briefly reminisced about the first (and the last time) that I had the opportunity to be ensconced in the old world luxury of a Rolls. I was ferried to my Matric dance in a silver Rolls-Royce. Unfortunately at the time, I hardly batted an eyelid at the car, as I was far more interested in the impending event – it is a pity that I didn’t pay a little more attention. Today, however, the Wraith Black Badge drew me like a magnet, it held me mesmerized, despite thinking beforehand that I would be immune to its charm.
The Black Badge series is described as a kind of alter-ego for Rolls-Royce aimed at “young gentlemen in a hurry”, these young men are also described by the manufacturer as being “darkly obsessed by their own pursuits and accomplishments from which they derive a pure adrenaline rush”. The high rolling, high flying…well, it’s safe to say that it’s not aimed at most of us, but rather a new market among the uber-wealthy. Newer money, as opposed to the stately, a little more stuffy and traditional, old money.
The Wraith Black Badge is a break with tradition for the luxury automaker. This, the most powerful Rolls-Royce in the world, it is fitted with a 6.6 litre V12 engine that produces 465kw and 870Nm and is the most driver-focused car in the Rolls Royce range – in other words as close to a performance car as the luxury automaker intends to develop. It features a completely redesigned (from the Rolls-Royce Wraith) air-suspension set up, new drive shafts and uprated 8-speed transmission. According to Rolls-Royce, the company “has produced an even more driver-focused, agile Wraith, while at the same time preserving the intrinsic elements of the effortless Rolls-Royce Magic Carpet Ride.”
BBC Top Gear, reported on the Wraith Black Badge’s notable performance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June 2016, it was “the sixth fastest in the supercar run, ahead of the likes of the Jaguar F-Type SVR, McLaren 675 LT, McLaren P1 GTR and Aston Martin Vantage GT8, no mean feat given that the Wraith is roughly the same size and weight as Goodwood House itself. ”
But back to the Black Badge in Cape Town (which has incidentally been brought in from Dubai and is not for sale, although you may place your order for one of these gems if you have between R9- and R10-million to spend –the price fluctuates with the exchange rate). Despite it’s more aggressive output, luxury is in no way compromised and in keeping with tradition, grounding elements such as the Parthenon grille, the famous Double R logo and the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine remain constant….of, course.
Inside the Black Badge cabin everything exudes an air of the utmost refinement and attention to detail, with the very best of the best when it comes to the quality of the finishes. The dash is simply exquisite, made from aerospace-grade aluminium-threaded carbon fibre composite – material used on the surfaces of stealth aircraft. This ‘fabric’ is created by weaving threads of aircraft grade aluminium just 0.014mm in diameter together before bonding this with carbon fibre. Then six coats of lacquer are applied and finally it is hand-polished to a mirror finish.
It may sound gimmicky, but one of the most enchanting features of the interior is the roof lining which, when the cars lights are on, is punctuated by tiny ‘starlights’ that make it feel as if you are sitting under the night sky on a blissful summer evening.
I could wax on lyrically about the unique gearbox with integrated GPS or the handcrafted carbon fibre wheels – 22 layers of carbon fibre laid in three axes, and folded back on themselves at the outer edges of the wheel rim to provide 44 layers of strength and reinforced by a 3D forged, aircraft-grade, aluminium hub which is bonded to the rim using aerospace strength titanium fasteners. You get the idea.
I’ll stop here though, as it really would be best to go take a look for yourself, if you’re in Cape Town. Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, sitting in the Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge is worth 10 million written reports.
The company blurb is the following, “Black Badge is an attitude to life, an aspect of the Rolls-Royce brand that appeals to those people who are elusive and defiant, the risk takers and disruptors who break the rules and laugh in the face of convention. They are driven by a restless spirit. They play hard and they change the world. Technically and aesthetically Black Badge is the alter ego of Rolls-Royce, darker, more assertive, more confident and powerful, and more demanding. With Black Badge we have created the most commanding presence on the super-luxury landscape. It is a truly transformative moment for our great brand.”
Watch the Wraith Black Badge carving up the road at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June 2016: