The first Rolls-Royce SUV has been revealed, with the company calling it Cullinan, after the largest diamond ever found.
While Rolls-Royce calls the Cullinan a high-bodied vehicle, rather than an SUV, it has been designed to actually head off road rather than just be a show pony.
Thanks to air suspension, the Cullinan can lift or raise its body to avail more ground clearance, which is a bit less than you think.
“Today we are setting a new standard by creating a new class of motoring and motor car for customers who are well-connected, highly mobile and have a global perspective,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ CEO. “They want a new type of motor car that gives them unbounded access in ultimate luxury. Their sense of adventure and daring demands a “go-anywhere in ultimate luxury” motor car that will both take them to and meet them at the pinnacle of life.”
The Cullinan’s normal ride height is 193mm, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but its air springs can actually raise or lower the Cullinan by 40mm.
When the Cullinan parks, it lowers by 40mm, enabling easier entry and egress, but when you press the start button, the SUV rises to its standard ride height (193mm).
Push the “Off-Road” button, which Rolls-Royce affectionately calls the ‘Everywhere’ button, and the Cullinan prepares to tackle rougher terrain. It then lifts itself by 40mm to give a total ground clearance of 233mm, which will help it get up and over most obstacles a Rolls-Royce owner will come across.
The air suspension also has a very neat trick. If there is a wheel that starts to lose traction, the dampers will extend to press the tyres harder into the surface to give greater grip.
While it doesn’t have a low-range transfer case, thanks to a wide spread of ratios from the ZF gearbox, first and second gear are short enough when combined with the engine’s 850Nm.
This will help it climb up steep gradients, and with its continuously adjusting air suspension, Rolls-Royce says the Cullinan will “glide over any situation”, and specifically mentions rough tracks, gravel, wet grass, mud, snow or sand in its press release.
The Cullinan is also said to feature the signature magic-carpet ride that Rolls-Royce is renowned for, and it’s worth noting that the company claims it maintains this ride both on and off road. Thank airbags coupled with independent front, and five-link rear suspension for that.
We’ll have to wait and see how it goes in real world situations, but the company proudly states that the Cullinan has a wading depth of 540mm – the deepest fording depth, it says, of any “super-luxury SUV” in what surely is an admission that the Cullinan is an SUV after all. High sided vehicle? Yeah, it’s an SUV, folks.
There’s a very clever stability/traction control system which reads the surface to see how much grip there is and applies the brakes to enable the best traction possible, and it appears it is possible to specify what kind of surface you’re traversing, possibly using the infotainment controller.
We’ll have to wait to see how this plays out in a proper off road situation, but the company is very confident, touting its off road ability, as you can see below.
“The proposition of this car is an engineering masterpiece, its off-road capability, whilst maintaining the world-famous ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ of Rolls-Royce,” said Müller-Ötvös. “When we began engineering this car, these were the guiding principles.”
Supplying torque to the wheels is the same engine as found in the Rolls-Royce Phantom, being a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine, matched to a creamy-smooth ZF eight-speed automatic.
The engine, which makes 563 bhp (420kW) and 850 Nm (627 lb-ft) of torque, has a bit of a job, shifting the Cullinan’s 2660kg (5864 lbs) kerb weight, which is why it’s handy that it makes its full complement of torque from 1600rpm.
While there are no acceleration times quoted, with the Phantom being similar weight and accelerating from 0-100kmh in 5.2 seconds, it’s a good guess that the Cullinan will get to 100kmh in around 5.4 seconds.
Inside, the Cullinan has been created as the most practical Rolls-Royce, which enables owners to fold down the back seats and load objects. Yeah, Rolls-Royce talks about “a Mark Rothko from the Art Gallery or a newly discovered artefact from the latest archaeological dig” to throw in the back, but let’s talk numbers instead.
The luggage space (called the rear compartment) gives you 560 litres of space, which grows to 600 when the parcel shelf is removed. When the back seats are dropped, there’s a loading length of 2245mm and a load capacity of 1930 litres.
Normally, the back of the rear seats sits higher than the boot floor, however the floor can be electronically raised, keeping an entirely flat load area.
The Cullinan comes in four and five seat layouts, called Individual Seats or Lounge Seats respectively, but only the Lounge configuration has the fold down rear seat.
There’s also a glass partition for the Individual arrangement, which is said to further isolate the cabin from the outside world, creating what should be the quietest interior of any SUV ever made.
You can also have a “Fixed Rear Centre Console” which afford the owner a drinks cabinet (replete with Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter), champagne flutes and refrigerator.
And of course, with Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke program, there’s myriad options for personalisation.
“The label SUV is now applied to anything with a two-box silhouette and the least suggestion of going off tarmac,” said Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce’s chief designer. “We envisioned an authentic, three-box high-bodied all-terrain car with a convention-challenging design and absolute capability that would satisfy the adventurous urges of our clients.”
There’s also plenty of tech. Included as standard is Night Vision and Vision Assist, which has both day- and night-time detection of both wildlife & pedestrians. In fact, the system will alert you pre-emptively.
There’s also a drowsy driver “Alertness Assistant”, plus a four-camera surround view system, which not only helps with parking, but also off-road. A radar-based active cruise control is included as well as collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure and lane change warning, a high-res head up display (in full colour), wi-fi hotspot to connect your devices, and Rolls-Royce’s latest infotainment system.
We’ll have to wait until we get our hands on one, but if it lives up to its spec sheet, the Cullinan should be a very capable machine.
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Price
US Pricing – US$325,000
UK Pricing – GBP210,000
Australian Pricing – $685,000