We’ve known it’s coming for a while. Like every other manufacturer, Rolls-Royce has succumbed to market demands to produce an SUV. And this is it – the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
Sorry, we shouldn’t call it an SUV. Because Rolls-Royce only works in superlatives, the Cullinan isn’t associated with anything as ghastly as sports or utilitarianism – it’s actually a “high-sided vehicle”.
Anyway, you get the gist – it’s a tall, family-friendly car with four-wheel drive and loads of space.
The Cullinan, then, is supposed to be the ultimate expression of an SUV – much like Rolls would say that the Phantom is the ultimate expression of a luxury limousine. The name is inspired by the Cullinan Diamond, the largest flawless diamond ever found – and Rolls reckons that its new creation can live up to such a lofty name.
Underneath, the Cullinan shares its platform with the new Phantom. That means a modular aluminium spaceframe chassis, which has been shortened and raised. It’s also been stiffened by 30%, but we’re told that this won’t affect the ride quality that a Rolls-Royce should deliver – it was just necessary to transition the limo platform into an SUV.
In terms of suspension, you get double wishbone at the front with a five-link rear axle, and self-levelling air suspension. That includes electronically operated dampers which will automatically smooth out any bumps in the road and keep the occupants inside level. And that doesn’t just get its information from what the wheels are doing – it also uses a front-facing camera that’ll scan the road ahead for crests and bumps, and brace itself accordingly. Clever stuff.
There’s also four-wheel steering to make the Cullinan effortless to drive, despite its vast size, and a 48V anti-roll system (much like you get on the Bentley Bentayga).
The 563 bhp power figure comes courtesy of a reworked version of the Phantom’s 6.75-litre V12. More importantly, though, is you get 627 lb ft of torque from 1,600 rpm. Rolls-Royce hasn’t provided performance figures, but has assured us that the Cullinan will do a (limited) top speed of 250 km/h.
But speed and performance aren’t really the point in a Rolls-Royce. The company has only festooned the Cullinan with so much power so that it feels effortless to haul such a large mass forward. A ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox should add to that sense of effortlessness with silky-smooth gearchanges.
But what about when you want to get dirty? Will the Cullinan actually go off-road? Well, it’s doubtful anyone will want to take their multi-million-dirham luxury car onto the rough stuff, but Rolls reckons the Cullinan is more than capable. It features an ‘Everywhere’ drive selector button – good for taking on gravel, wet grass, mud, snow or rutted tracks. Apparently the Cullinan also sports the industry’s highest wading depth at 540 mm (40 mm more than the Bentley Bentayga). Oh, also, there are videos of the Cullinan doing mad things off-road, so we reckon it could be pretty good.
Inside, things are pretty similar to the Phantom, meaning everything is ornate, hyper-luxurious, and incredibly well crafted. You do get digital instrument dials, but there’s still no rev counter. After all, this is a Rolls-Royce – knowing the number of revs you’re doing is about as useful as knowing the number of times your butler walks up and down the stairs.
At the back, you get a split rear tailgate, which can be specced with a couple of lounge chairs, or else a pull-out drawer containing paraphernalia to do with your favourite hobby. Or you can have something else. It’s all highly customisable.
We’re not entirely sure on the looks, but it hardly matters. With the Cullinan, Rolls-Royce has set out to create the most luxurious SUV available. And while we won’t know until we’ve driven it, we reckon it’s roundly stolen that crown from the Bentley Bentayga. The good news is, if you want a Rolls-Royce to actually drive yourself, and you’ve got a family you’d like to bring along for the ride, there’s now a car for you.
And if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.
What do you think? More pics below.