Review

High and mighty Rolls-Royce SUV

by staff writer JP

The Rolls-Royce of SUVs has been a long time coming – with a level of luxury, performance and usability never seen before in the SUV market

Targeted at customers who are young, very successful and considered high-net-worth who like a true experience. This Rolls-Royce would take them to the ends of the Earth in ultimate luxury. Cullinan awakes at the touch of the unlock button. It lowers itself by 40mm to make entry effortless as the iconic Rolls-Royce coach doors stand open. A great way to welcome the driver and passengers to their adventure.

There are rear seat options to choose: with space for three passengers in the rear or 2 individual seats. Interestingly, the rear seats also fold down another first for a Rolls-Royce. Folded completely, they create a flat load area or in a 2/3 and 1/3 split, increasing practicality even further.

The rear compartment and boot area offer 560 litres of space, growing to 1930 litres when the seats are flat. For those explorers wishing to carry a long item back from their trip you’ve covered. A loading length of 2245mm is longer than a Range Rover Vogue Extended Wheelbase. A very practical Rolls-Royce indeed.

For those who value the ultimate luxury, this SUV can offer 2 individual rear seats separated by a centre console. Incorporating a drinks cabinet with Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator. The seats also move in a number of planes to offer ultimate comfort whilst travelling in the rear.

"Cullinan will simply take the world in its stride"
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

For the first time a Rolls-Royce has designed an opening tailgate. In a nod to the era when luggage was mounted on the exterior of the car. This way the occupants did not travel with their belongings, so the rear of the Cullinan is in 2 parts.

A glass partition isolates the passenger cabin from the luggage compartment, creating an inner ecosystem for the occupants. This blissful silence within the cabin means you can’t hear the dash clock! Naturally the occupants can remain in the optimum temperature even when the luggage compartment stands open.

The driver and passengers can press the door closing button to seal themselves within the sanctuary of Cullinan’s cabin. Or one touch of the sensor on the exterior door handles will see the doors automatically close themselves from outside. A touch of the start button then elevates Cullinan 40mm to its standard, commanding ride height.

Placing its occupants in the perfect position from which to see the world as it drives off. Occupants can exit the vehicle without muddying themselves as the doors wrap low under the sill of Cullinan. Ensuring that any dirt remains on the outside of the door. A feature only Rolls-Royce would have considered.

Key to the creation of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV was the Architecture of Luxury, Rolls-Royce’s proprietary all-aluminium architecture. The engineering team behind Cullinan adapted the Architecture of Luxury to the design template of a high-bodied car laid down by Giles Taylor and his design team thanks to its innate adaptability.

It was designed and engineered from the ground up in such a way as to be scalable to the size and weight requirements of different future Rolls-Royce models, including those with different propulsion, traction and control systems, thus underpinning the long-term future product roadmap.

Cullinan uses this new architecture in a wholly different manner to deliver an iconic design and presence, uncompromised comfort, space and usability, cutting edge technology and the peerless on-road and off-road driving experience and capability.

The integration of new technologies into the architecture was also key to ensuring the fundamental quality of Cullinan as Effortless, Everywhere. The engineering team began by creating a drivetrain that would bring Rolls-Royce’s famous ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ off-road.

The inclusion of drive to the front wheels as well as the back for the first time in Rolls-Royce history, and the complete reworking of the new 6.75 litre twin-turbo V12 Rolls-Royce engine. Delivering just the right level of torque (850Nm) at the lowest possible revolutions (1,600rpm), the Rolls-Royce engineering team has ensured Cullinan will take owners any place in luxury.

In the case of driving off-road, the electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system uses an air compression system to actively push down any wheel it detects losing traction to ensure every wheel is constantly in contact with the ground and maximum torque is being provided to all wheels.

"At this point in the history of automotive design, SUVs have become homogenous and ubiquitous"
Giles Taylor, Director of Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The grille is created from hand-polished stainless steel, but for Cullinan it is set slightly proud of the surrounding bodywork that pushes it up and forward. The Rolls-Royce badge and Spirit of Ecstasy ride significantly above the line of the wing, giving them a unique vantage point.

Away from the face of Cullinan the vertical lines that run from the A-pillars down along the raised bonnet edge, down the side of the grille and into the metal skid plate below emphasise the height of the car and its dominant character.

From the side, the purposefulness of Cullinan is clear. There is an uncompromising sheerness of the typical Rolls-Royce long bonnet profile, with the bonnet itself seen to be set higher than the wings of the car to communicate greater toughness.

The design theme for the rear lights also remains simple as two narrow upright units house all the lights and are minimally adorned by thin narrow strips of jewellery at their centre. A final mark of functionality are the exposed metal exhaust pipes and skid plate, both reminding one of Cullinan’s power and ability.

The centre stack is framed by hand-finished metal pillars that bridge the upper fascia and middle console, giving it a sense of robustness, whilst also suspending the horizontal elements of the fascia to give a more commanding feel.

"The launch of a new Rolls-Royce model is always a seminal moment in the luxury industry"
Peter Schwarzenbauer, Chairman of Rolls-Royce and Member of the Board of the BMW Group

Driving to your remote location is simply the first part of the adventure in a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Further enjoyment awaits in the shape of a Rolls-Royce Recreation Module.

Rock climbing, snowboarding, parascending, kite boarding or base jumping. Easily slotted and plugged into the boot of Cullinan, each Recreation Module contains a motorised drawer housing the equipment and paraphernalia specific to each Cullinan owner’s pursuits. Let the fun begin.