This is the Cullinan, the Rolls-Royce (RR) entrant into the SUV market. Perhaps that should be the luxury SUV market . . . or perhaps the opulent luxury market.
Unmistakably a Rolls from the front thanks to the pantheon grill and design reminiscent of the maker’s luxury cars, the SUV is powered by a 6.75-litre, twin turbo V12 engine generating 563hp and 850Nm of torque. That power is delivered to an all new all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system, giving the Cullinan a top speed limited to 250km/h and plenty of grunt for those who want to do some serious off-road adventuring.
Okay, that does seem an unlikely scenario. It’s hard to imagine the Cullinan ever being seen careening through the outback and thundering about on some mad bush-bashing trek. It certainly has the power and, says Rolls, it has been designed with the ability to do it, but with a price-tag which will, no doubt, be somewhere similar to that of an outer suburban home (some reports put a base price $430,000), only the stupendously wealthy could be considered candidates for taking the Cullinan anywhere but the relative safety of a sealed highway.
Built on RR’s all-aluminium architecture, and boasting the latest generation of self-levelling air suspension, and a new double-wishbone front axle and 5-link rear axle, the Cullinan delivers, the company says, on its ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ promise and offers ‘incredible agility and stability’ on all terrains.
Inside, of course, there’s plenty of top-grade leather and wood for the trim – you would expect no less from RR – and no shortage of luxury features and brilliant touches.
The rear passenger compartment has two configurations – Lounge Seat or Individual Seats, with Lounge Seat offering room for three passengers, and the Individual seat set for two, with seats separated by a fixed rear centre console incorporating a drinks cabinet – with RR whisky glasses, decanter, champagne flutes and a refrigerator.
The luggage compartment offers 560 litres of space (600 with the parcel shelf removed) and is separated from the rest of the cabin by a glass partition. RR says this leads to class-leading silence in the passenger cabin and a sealed environment for passengers when the rear door is open.
Up front, there’s a touch-sensitive central information screen allowing the driver to quickly select functions, map views and vehicle set-up. This portal can be controlled from the Spirit of Ecstasy controller which nestles on the central console along with the ‘Off-Road’ button, Hill Descent Control button and Air Suspension height adjustment controls.
Other equipment includes Night Vision and Vision Assist, including daytime and night-time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view; Active Cruise Control; Collision Warning; Cross-Traffic Warning, Lane Departure and Lane Change Warning; a 7×3 High-Resolution Head-Up Display, WiFi hotspot, and the latest Navigation and Entertainment Systems.