Abu Dhabi Motors hosted a first look at the eagerly anticipated Rolls-Royce Dawn Black Badge at the Yas Marina Circuit. Attendees were granted a behind-the-scenes look of the new Dawn Black Badge with live demonstrations of its features.
The Dawn is given a new and darker sensual dimension through its suite of Black Badge engineering and design treatments.
The Black Badge story
Since it was launched in 2016, Black Badge has become the most commanding presence on the super-luxury landscape. Its authentic Bespoke engineering and design approach has answered the demands of those customers who have said “Build us a Rolls-Royce like no other”.
Black Badge is Rolls-Royce’s response to a small and select group of clients who have asked the marque for motor cars with specific, focused characteristics that reflect their different take on life, success and the luxury they consume. These people choose to define themselves differently from their wider social group; a subset within a subset.
For over a century such individuals, possessed of a dark and restless spirit, have been drawn to Rolls-Royce’s unique allure. Luminaries including Sir Malcolm Campbell, Howard Hughes and Muhammed Ali have all shared the marque’s founding philosophy; an uncompromising refusal to accept the status quo and a constant yearn to innovate, create and advance.
Their restless spirit was also shared by the marque’s co-founder; himself one of the great disrupters of his day. The Honourable C.S. Rolls was a man in a hurry. Not satisfied with fundamentally altering the road-car landscape, he sought more and pursued his appetite for advancement and adventure in the air; a passion that would ultimately lead to his untimely demise aged just 33.
It is this indomitable spirit that, since the launch of Black Badge, has captivated so many of today’s young owners, who are drawn to Rolls-Royce in the knowledge that no other luxury house is possessed of the vision and flexibility to meet their demands both in design and engineering terms. Indeed, Black Badge serves to amplify the inherent characteristics that have driven so many new, younger patrons of luxury to the marque.
In conceiving Black Badge versions of Wraith, Ghost and now Dawn, the marque’s Bespoke designers and engineers drew upon their instinctive understanding of the unique lives of these extraordinary men and women to create both design and engineering treatments that perfectly amplify the inherent values of these great Rolls-Royces.
Dawn Black Badge
Created to satisfy overwhelming demand from a new breed of Rolls-Royce patrons, Dawn Black Badge stands as the most luxurious, social and sensual space from which to take in the night air. This most glamorous, uncompromising expression of open-top luxury is given a new and darker sensual dimension through its suite of Black Badge engineering and design treatments.
The Dawn Black Badge at the Festival of Speed is presented in a deeply intense shade of black. Multiple layers of paint and lacquer have been fastidiously applied and hand-polished in a process that amounts to the most exhaustive painting and polishing process ever used for a solid paint color. The result clothes Dawn’s sensuous lines in the deepest, darkest and most intense black to ever grace a production car surface. The roof, which opens in a ‘Silent Ballet’ to allow in the sounds of the night, is also only available in black canvas, whilst the rear deck is finished in black leather.
In creating Black Badge, Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke designers have sought to create true signifiers of this more assertive alter-ego for the marque. Dawn gets this same treatment.
The Spirit of Ecstasy – itself a mascot that has taken many different forms throughout the marque’s history – transforms into a high-gloss vamp, finished in a perfectly executed black chrome. This transformation to a darker aesthetic extends to certain chrome surfaces including the front grille surround, boot lid finisher, exhaust pipes and air inlet finisher. The effect is an authentic transformation that speaks of a bolder, more confident sensibility. Finally, the ‘Double R’ signifiers on the Rolls-Royce badges are inverted in colour, confirming the creation of a true alter-ego of the marque.
This bold, edgy design ethos extends beautifully into the interior – an exquisitely appointed staging point for patrons who seek to discover the night’s elements with the roof down.
Evoking Sir Henry Royce’s founding philosophy to ‘design what does not exist’ – a collaboration between the marque’s design and engineering departments has seen the creation of a new luxury material. Inspired by Rolls-Royce’s aviation heritage and echoing advanced production techniques for stealth aircraft, a beautiful and highly innovative new treatment for the car’s surfaces has been conceived.
Its construction displays every hallmark of Rolls-Royce’s fastidious attention to detail. Threads of aircraft grade aluminium, a delicate 0.014m in diameter, are woven together and then bonded in carbon fibre. Surfaces are then finished with six coats of lacquer before being left to cure for 72 hours and hand-polished to Rolls-Royce’s hallmark mirror finish. The result is a highly contemporary finish, perfectly attuned to the darker more menacing aesthetic today’s patrons of luxury demand.
This exquisite expression of noir informs every conceivable detail. For example, innovative production techniques such as Physical Vapour Deposition, a highly technical surfacing method, perfectly darkens the air-vents throughout the interior in a manner that will never discolour or tarnish.
Reflecting the marque’s Bespoke philosophy, Dawn Black Badge also plays host to a new interior palette break-up. Higher levels of exquisite Black leather are accented boldly with Mandarin highlights, including a strip of orange highlight which encircles the cabin at hip-height, evocative of the sunset before the passengers are immersed in darkness.
A final touch, again, in a nod to one of Rolls-Royce’s great pioneer patrons, Sir Malcolm Campbell, finishes the rear interior space. His famous ‘Infinity’ rating logo beautifully embroidered into the car’s rear waterfall, gives a subtle nod to a man very much possessed of the restless spirit that so defines the Black Badge attitude.
Truly Bespoke Engineering
Like its stablemates Ghost and Wraith, the distilled essence of Dawn is amplified through the engineering that underpins the Black Badge philosophy. In the case of Dawn, the engineering substance that leads to more spirited driving is accentuated by the creation of an entirely new exhaust system, that when deployed by the press of the ‘low’ button, celebrates Rolls-Royce’s hallmark V12 engine with a menacing bass baritone, announcing its arrival with authority rather than hysteria.
The exhaust tone adds an aural dimension to a suite of engineering enhancements. Indeed, Black Badge stands as a truly Bespoke collaboration between design and engineering, answering the demands of a new breed of patron of luxury who seeks a more spirited, involving driving experience which retains the peerless quality of ride that has driven Dawn’s success. To achieve this, the engineers have exploited the flexibility of Dawn’s magnificent 6.6 litre twin-turbo V12 to generate an extra 30bhp over the car’s already ample 563bhp, bringing the total to 593bhp. That hallmark sense of one infinite gear is also given bolder expression with the addition of a further 20NM of torque available from 1,500rpm, bringing the total to 840NM.
Fundamental changes to the transmission and throttle strategy give Dawn an enhanced feeling of urgency without diminishing its position as the world’s most luxurious open-top tourer. Indeed, the drive-train, ZF 8-speed gear box and steering-rack are so intuitive that they work together to create a more spirited drive depending on throttle and steering input. The result is a perfectly stately Rolls-Royce touring experience at low speeds and a highly engaging drive when the driver seeks to ‘push on’. Fundamental changes to suspension settings and components also ensure an appropriate balance between Rolls-Royce comfort and driver focus, felt in flatter cornering at high speeds.
The increased urgency of Dawn Black Badge has led to the development of new brakes with an increase in diameter of one inch. During deceleration, a fundamental remapping of the transmission strategy leads to downshifts a few rpm sooner under braking, offering engine braking when driving in a more spirited manner.
The steering-rack has also been quickened and engineered for more feedback. Speed-dependent adjustments also embolden Black Badge drivers as they enjoy an added sense of security and feel derived from increased steering weight at high speeds.