Our Great Escape

A Rolls Royce Black Badge journey with friends was the perfect pandemic therapy.

After a few weeks of our Golden State’s lockdown, the novelty of wide-open roads and highways was waning and we missed visiting with good friends. Then a glorious Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge coupe appeared in our driveway, ready for thorough testing. And while most two-door coupes, even those with luxury nameplates, are barely suited to accommodate adults for transport in the coach cabin, this was a proper Rolls-Royce where every seat is luxurious. So it took very little selling to coax a favorite couple to join us for a drive down the coast on a picture-perfect day.

Elegant Performance

Nearly every automaker offers a high-strung, performance version of their standard offering and the result can sound and ride like a racecar. Some performance editions offer switching between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde modes so that the Harley Davidson bark is dialed back a bit, but it’s still Rock & Roll. But since our Wraith was endowed with a massive V12 under its bonnet, it didn’t require the Rolling Stones when it already possessed the London Symphony Orchestra.

The Black Badge sporting option, an addition that added a breathtaking $50,000 to our Wraith’s $330,000 base price, was not all about power since the 623 HP was unchanged. It did nudge the torque from 604 to 642 ft. pounds and add just a subtle, deep rumble at the exhaust tips. Perhaps the most valuable addition was the cosmetic change from silver to dark chrome on all the brightwork except the small finishing plate under the famous Spirit of Ecstasy mascot above the grille. I imagine that this curious omission was intentional because it couldn’t be a cost saving move. Special carbon alloy 21-inch wheels and carbon fiber interior accents were appropriate additions.

Driving down Highway 1 was serene and library quiet in the Wraith cabin, offering an opportunity to catch up with our friends. When an opportunity availed itself to pass a leisurely motorist, dipping into the throttle made the task effortless, as if a giant velvet glove was pushing the 5,300-pound Wraith. That’s my idea of a safety feature.

Music Under the Stars

The other notable options included in our Wraith Black Badge coupe were the $10,250 Bespoke Audio System, the $17,500 Shooting Star Headliner and the $5,975 tariff for Illuminated Treadplates. That $33,725 combination of extras would allow occupants to know they were entering a Wraith, especially at night, to look up at a starlit sky, complete with shooting stars, and experience amazing music. 

I’m a bit of an audiophile, so I’d sacrifice the bespoke treadplates to help finance the incomparable 1,300-watt, 18-speaker system that even includes speakers in the headliner. And about that headliner, I could easily endure the elegant, standard Black Cashmere fitment and put the savings in my wine cellar. But the shooting stars are a hoot.

THE FINE PRINT

2020 Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge

TYPE:  Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  6.6-liter Turbo V12

HORSEPOWER:  623 @ 5,000-6,000 RPM

TORQUE:  642 lb.ft. @ 1,600-4,750 RPM

BASE PRICE: $330,000

AS TESTED:  $461,250

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  12-city, 18-highway, 14-combined