Rolls-Royce is one of those brands that instantly conjures an image of wealth and excess, of incredible exclusivity and opulence. The state of the world today makes the idea of spending half a million dollars on a luxury car a bit challenging, but that’s hardly a worry for someone who can afford a Rolls-Royce. So instead of trying to determine whether or not a 2022 Black Badge Ghost is “worth it” in the traditional sense, I want to explore the way a Rolls-Royce changes people’s perception of you, and indeed, your perception of other people. Living with a Rolls-Royce is, as they say, a vibe.
First, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way. The 2022 Black Badge Ghost (don’t switch those around, or you’ll never be allowed on the Whispers app) is powered by a 6.7-liter twin-turbo V12. In the old days, Rolls would have only described its power as “adequate,” but in a concession to modern tastes, we know this engine makes 573 hp and 627 lb-ft, with the latter peaking basically just off idle at 1,600 rpm. The engine is paired with a GPS-controlled transmission that changes gears based on not only how you’re driving, but where you’re driving – something no other carmaker does.
That said, this mega powertrain isn’t the highlight of the Ghost. In fact, this sedan is almost EV-like in its fluid and quiet power delivery. It’s odd, being totally disconnected from the drive, even in this supposedly more performance-oriented Black Badge trim. The disconnection carries over to the Ghost’s steering; it’s almost comically overboosted and is so far from having good feedback or communication that it makes an Autopia car look like a Porsche 911.
But that’s the point. The Rolls is more akin to a classic luxury car than a modern, tech-focused machine like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The focus is on high-quality materials and craftsmanship rather than gadgets and infotainment. This is why everything you touch is leather, wood, metal or wool. The way the Black Badge Ghost smells inside is almost indescribably good.
This old-school approach to a luxury experience extends to the way the car is designed. For example, the power closing doors. Are they easier or more convenient than a normal door? Absolutely not. In fact, the doors are kind of annoyingly stiff to close manually, but it’s a level of extravagance you won’t find in most other cars. And that’s what a Rolls-Royce does best.
When you’re behind the large, thin steering wheel of a Rolls-Royce, people look at you differently. I look like an aging Dinosaur Jr. roadie half the time, but while driving the Ghost, people glance at me as though I’m a lost Rothchild heir. People treat you differently, and they get the hell out of your way.
This came in handy while dropping my wife and her friend off at a music festival near my house. Normally, getting in and out of a big concert like this is a nightmare – or rather, it would’ve been if I wasn’t driving a 9-mile-long gray-and-purple luxury sedan. Where the plebs had to drive through a ton of impromptu parking lots and checkpoints, I went right for the VIP entrance. And, because Rolls-Royce, I didn’t have to stop. Security kept waving me through checkpoint after checkpoint, and before long, I was opening the Ghost’s coach doors at the festival’s artist’s entrance. Was this a case of security assuming I was someone important and just wanting me to be someone else’s problem? Yes. Would this have happened in literally any other car? Doubtful.
But here’s the thing: Being in the Rolls actually made me feel important. This isn’t something that happens to me. I’m well aware that the cars I drive aren’t mine and 99 percent of them are things I’ll never own or be able to afford. The Ghost sort of shrouded that all in a fog and made every errand, every drive, every minute spent in the car feel special.
Because of that, I spent as much time in the Ghost as possible. I even played Dungeons & Dragons in the back seat, online with friends from other auto publications and Jalopnik’s own Erin Marquis. The Ghost was excellent for this purpose; you haven’t rolled dice until you’ve rolled them on a gorgeous wood folding tray in the back seat of a $650,000 Rolls.
I also picked up a friend from the airport, and not just any airport, but LAX. This might not seem like a big deal to any non-Angelinos, but look, I’ve threatened to not even pick up my own mother from LAX because it’s so bad. Yet on that Saturday morning, I found myself brushing off all the things that would usually have me red-faced and seething after a few laps around the terminal loop. I was insulated from the world in a way that I wouldn’t have been in anything other car.
My takeaway from a week in the Black Badge Ghost is that it’s a car you experience rather than just drive. It’s not a car for enthusiasts, though it’s a car that’s easy to be enthusiastic about. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever driven.
Soon, Rolls-Royce will launch its first fully electric model, the Spectre, and I imagine the absence of sound will make the Rolls experience more satisfying. All of a sudden I’m finding myself more and more excited about being less involved and less engaged in the driving experience. It’s a weird feeling, but a good vibe.