Rolls-Royce’s Extra-Torquey ‘Low Mode’ Unleashes That Mountain of V12 Power
Rolls-Royce cars aren’t necessarily what springs to mind when you’re thinking about something sporty. Although they can rip it up when they want to and you can’t accuse the Wraith or Cullinan of being short on power, at the end of the day it’s a brand that’s steeped in luxury more than lap times. One doesn’t get their chauffeur to take one on a track day, after all. Probably. If you’re rich enough to have a view on that etiquette, we’d love to get in touch.
If you do want to combine the smooth, reassuring power of a Rolls with the manic hoonability of a hot hatch, though, there’s a special mode to let you do it. A Rolls-Royce owner can flip their car into “Low Mode” to access a lovely, big chunk more torque in lower gears and faster up and downshifting. If you hit the low button (pictured below) then, like taking your hair out of a bun at the end of the day, it suddenly switches to a sexier, faster version of itself that’s more likely to drink martinis. In a regular, plebian Rolls Royce it makes transmission shifts 25 percent faster, making it feel more responsive and giving more torque via the increased RPM in lower gears as you careen down the Alps away from aristocratic enemies.
Of course, if you’re a more refined individual then you will have opted for the Rolls-Royce Black Badge edition of the car—anyway, the ultra-premium, sporting versions already have what the brand calls “an amplification of the Rolls-Royce driving experience in response to demand for more urgency to match a bolder, darker, more engineering-led aesthetic.”
Cyberpunk aside, the Black Badge models already had more torque than their more staid, regular several-hundred-thousand-dollar counterparts. So when Low Mode is engaged, the Black Badge versions hold gears longer when accelerating but speed up downshifts under braking to give a full sense of the engine’s power.
And if you really floor it, it takes it up another notch. Rolls-Royce says, “When the throttle is depressed to 90 percent with ‘Low Mode’ engaged, gearshift speeds are increased by 50 percent, delivering power with more immediacy.”
Also special to the Black Badge Low Mode is a sort of Loud Mode, where customers can make full use of “a more prominent expression of the engine’s aural character.” Two years of careful tuning went into making sure that, if you put the car in said mode, the exhaust flaps will stay open even in park or neutral. That way when you rev it, everyone in the neighborhood should know—even if that happens to be a country estate.
Simply put, Low Mode gives Rolls-Royces that special character we love in V12s but without ragging the engine to the edge of its life. Also, as a sexy little easter egg to a car, it’s a nice feature—a bit like that secret extra gear the protagonist can always find in a film.
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