‘Badass’ Black Badge range attracts women buyers

‘Badass’ Black Badge range attracts women buyers

NEXT time you see a Rolls-Royce coming your way, check out the driver. He or she is likely to be a lot younger and more hip than you might expect, and increasingly a woman. The average age of a Rolls-Royce customer has fallen dramatically in the past decade, according to a Bloomberg report. The mid-point these days is more like 45 years. Hoping to further capitalise on this growing interest from a younger demographic, the Century-plus-old automaker has produced a series of bespoke Black Badge models which are pure badass - and attracting women as a result.

‘All of these high-end brands want the female buyer, ladies. Remember that when you next go in to negotiate to buy your next car.’

The first of these in Australia was unveiled in March at the Australian Grand Prix as part of a specially prepared stand marking Rolls-Royce Motor Car’s first foray into the Formula 1 fray. The menacing-looking black-on-black convertible Dawn debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year and joins Wraith and Ghost in the Black Badge model lineup which first hit the market in 2016.

Black Badge means pretty well what the name suggests - rendering the car in a darker aesthetic using black chrome finishes. You get the drift in the accompanying images. Even the Spirit of Ecstasy vamps things up, coming and going in high-gloss black chrome. There have been engine modifications, too, making it more powerful and faster, of course.

Rolls-Royce says it created the Black Badge offering after “a select group of clients" asked for cars with features which more accurately reflected “their different take on life”. These people apparently define themselves differently from their wider social group, a so-called a subset within a subset. In Black Badge, Rolls-Royce designers worked up an assertive alter-ego for the marque, “attuned to the darker, more menacing aesthetic today’s patrons of luxury demand”. 

Who are these people?! Frankly, I’m starting to feel a little bit afraid of them.

To talk this through, I caught up with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ Asia Pacific regional sales manager, Ian Grant (above). Visiting Melbourne from Singapore, Grant says the Black Badge range has attracted a younger, more dynamic patron of luxury. And, to the brand’s surprise, many of them have been women. In this region, they’ve been  early-adopters, as well - the first person to buy the new Dawn Black Badge was a New Zealand woman, and a female has put in the first order in Victoria, too.

‘The new sports exhaust system presents as a “menacing bass baritone, announcing the car’s arrival with authority rather than hysteria”.’

"Whilst we might be going dark and more aggressive, faster and with more power, it's attracting a female audience, which you wouldn't naturally associate with that type of change to a car,” Grant says. Capturing the younger audience and “the hearts and the mindset” of the female audience as well “has been a very, very welcome thing for us”, he says. I’ll bet. All of these high-end brands want the female buyer, ladies. Remember that when you next go in to negotiate to buy your next car.

Grant says the extra 30 horsepower on board this substantial car - it weighs more than 2.5 tonnes - helps propel it down the street in a much more calm-and-collected but aggressive way. “It's a real drivers' car, it's a fantastic feeling,” he says. The driving experience in Black Badge cars changes as well, with a different steering and throttle response, larger brakes and an increase in the suspension system. “So, it feels different, it looks different and it sounds different to drive.”

While I haven’t had the chance to test that yet, I did get to hear the Dawn’s V12 engine roar to life when I had it backed up for photography purposes. Roll-Royce says the new Black Badge sports exhaust system presents as a “menacing bass baritone, announcing [the car’s] arrival with authority rather than hysteria”. I’m still afraid.

Dawn Black Badge is available from a base price of $A850,000 (including all government taxes), though it’s easy for the numbers to ring up. The variant seen here includes options such a bespoke audio system, RR monogrammed headrests, seat piping and the must-have plush lambswool mats (which Madam Wheels fell in love with in the Rolls-Royce Phantom), bumping up the price to $902,890. Wraith Black Badge starts at $770,000.