Three years ago, Rolls-Royce announced that it would indeed go ahead with development of a super-luxury entrant into the SUV market. After all, why not? There was no need to be shy if Bentley and Lamborghini were already creating waves with the Bentayga and Urus.
Three years later and Rolls-Royce has released the first details of the new Cullinan hyper-luxury SUV. Named after the largest diamond ever found – now part of the Crown Jewels – the new model might not be quite so tough as it’s natural namesake, but extensive testing ‘all over the planet’ is reported to have resulted in a highly-capable off-roader. Should the road get too bumpy, the newly-revised ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ will keep passengers of high net worth oblivious to the situation.
The Magic Carpet is part of a new double-wishbone front and 5-link rear self-levelling air suspension system that, at it’s highest setting, gives the Cullinan a maximum wading depth of 540mm, the best of any super-luxury SUV. The system was re-engineered to use longer air struts to improve off-road performance. On the flip side of this, the vehicle automatically lowers itself by 40mm when the door is opened via the stainless steel handle.
Make no mistake, this is not a small vehicle. While it’s not quite as long as a Phantom (5,762mm), with an overall length of 5,341mm and width of 2,164mm there will need to be some considerable space between boulders (or cars) to squeeze the Cullinan through. It’s not light, either, weighing in at 2,660kg, despite using the all-new, all-aluminium Architecture of Luxury.
Moving this mass is a 6.75-litre V12 twin-turbo petrol engine delivering 563bhp/420kW at 5,000rpm and 850Nm/627lb ft of torque at 1,600rpm. While derived from the BMW V12, the Rolls-Royce versions use a series of upgrades, to the point they are branded ‘Rolls-Royce’ on the valve cover. Power is delivered to the road via 22″ wheels and an all-new, all-wheel drive system which features four-wheel steering. Top speed is limited to 155mph. If you need to ask the fuel economy figures you probably can’t afford to fuel this leviathan, but just in case we’re looking at 18.8mpg and 341g CO2/km.
In front of the engine is the ubiquitous Rolls-Royce radiator grille. Crafted from hand-polished stainless steel, the unit stands slightly proud of the surrounding bodywork to emphasise the bold design – and to raise the Spirit of Ecstasy emblem above the waistline. The high-sided body rises to a maximum height of 1,836mm which, Rolls-Royce states, is accentuated by the glass-to-metal ratio of the bodyside. In the rear, a slightly protruding boot lid is similar to that of the D-Back Rolls-Royces of the 1930s, the last of the marque to offer an exterior boot-mounted parcel shelf.
Described by Rolls-Royce as the first ‘three-box’ model in the SUV segment, the boot lid forms what is called The Clasp, essentially a two-piece (top and bottom) aperture that, as could be expected, has remote operation. This protruding design helps increase luggage capacity to a standard 560 litres, or 600 litres with the parcel shelf removed. The luggage area is separated from the passenger compartment by a fixed rear partition.
Rear seating is offered in two configurations, Lounge or Individual, and it can be assumed they are supremely comfortable. These offer power folding in a series of configurations into a series of formats. With all seats folded, maximum load capacity reaches 1,930 litres. This load area is described as being longer than that of an extended wheelbase Range Rover.
At the front of the cabin, the centre console is based around hand-finished metal pillars, which suspend individual elements. The upper facia is wrapped in a newly-developed Box Grain leather, similar to that used in high-end luggage. Virtually all areas you might touch are heated, including the steering wheel, seats, front door armrests, front centre console lid, rear side armrests and rear centre armrest. All instrumentation is digital, including the touch-sensitive centre screen (a first for R-R). There is a raft of safety equipment, including night time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning and, in a nod to modern tech, the cabin features five USB ports.
All this (and more) can be yours for about £230,000. Should you choose to use Rolls-Royce’s famed vehicle personalisation service, the price of your Cullinan will be considerably more.