Skid Marks

Rolls-Royce Cullinan: the peak of luxury SUVs


Rolls-Royce had been coy during the last few years about the development of their first proper off-road vehicle.

Initially dubbed as “Project Cullinan,” the Rolls-Royce of SUVs has now finally broken cover.

Cullinan is the name of the largest diamond ever discovered in history in South America, weighing an impressive 3,106.75 carats or 621.35 grams.

It has been cut up and divided, and is now part of the British Monarchy’s crown jewels.

Like the diamond, the Rolls is equally large, yet thanks to designer Giles Taylor and his team, the Cullinan is perfectly proportioned, making it seem smaller than it actually is.

Just how large is it? Consider this: the overall length is 5,341.62 mm, or 5.34 meters. In comparison, the 2018 Ford Expedition is 5,333 mm.

Yet the Cullinan doesn’t look as limousine-like as the massive Ford.

The wheelbase is an imperial 3,294.38 mm or almost 3.3 meters. It’s longer than some small cars.

Overall height is roughly 1,891 mm, which helps it shoot into most old carpark buildings. Interestingly, flood fording depth is a respectable 5.34 meters, given that the Rolls isn’t a purpose-built PPV platform.

The front is classic Rolls: the huge grill ties it in with every other Rolls-Royce vehicle ever made.

The bustle tail also pays homage to the original Rolls-Royce motor cars with actual trunks strapped to the rear.

The gently curved C-pillars give it a very sedan-like feel, and the low beltline give it a roomy, airy feeling of—for lack of a better word—majesty.

Yet, all this size and majesty would be useless if the Cullinan can’t maneuver in the urban jungle. It has for its size a decent 6.65 meter turning radius, aided further by rear-wheel steering.

Before cynics snicker at Rolls-Royce’s obvious ploy to get into the highly profitable luxury SUV segment, originally the domain of Land Rover, consider this: Lawrence of Arabia once said that “a Rolls-Royce in the desert is above rubies.”

Indeed, Lawrence had a fleet of nine Rolls-Royce under his command during the first World War, using them as combat vehicles for himself in the Sinai desert.

Maharajas of India drove their Rolls-Royce through dusty, muddy unpaved roads while they ruled their fiefdom during the early 20th Century, and wealthy Australian land lords descended from the British also utilized a fleet of Rolls-Royce vehicles surveying their vast farm lands.

Truly, Rolls-Royce has a reputation for dependable, reliable, sturdy off-road performance—even before the SUV segment was created.

There is true pedigree in the brand’s off-road prowess, before the likes of Land Rover, Toyota, and Jeep appeared.

Despite feeling old-world lavish, Rolls-Royce has kept up with the times.

The chassis is an aluminium intensive modular and scale-able space-frame platform that debuted on the Phantom VIII sedan. This will underpin all future Rolls-Royce vehicles, and help shed more weight.

The engine is the familiar BMW-sourced V12, displacing 6.75 liters (6 and 3 quarters, as the Brits would say), a nod to the previous Rolls-Royce big-block V8 engine’s displacement of pre-BMW era.

It develops 563 hp at 5,000 rpm, but more importantly, it belts out an effortless 850 Newton meters of torque from a low of 1,600 rpm.

Attached is a modified X-Drive all-wheel drive system built to cope with the Cullinan’s massive output and sheer 2,660-kg dry weight.

The suspension is a first: utilizing the same basic setup as other Rolls-Royce vehicles, but with larger air springs to help level the vehicle on fast-road driving conditions, the suspension provides stability on the highway, yet gives good traction when surveying one’s massive estate.

Yes, the Cullinan is a proper off-roader with height adjustable suspension that not only provides flat-cornering and self-levelling, but also constantly forces the wheels to be in contact with terra-firma, providing it with goat-like prowess on inclines, and diagonal driving prowess on a sloped surfaces.

Rolls-Royce are best experienced in the back seat, and as they say, the Cullinan is truly no different.

The regular lounge-style seating for three abreast in the second row is very comfortable, and folds flat to the floor to allow loading of big, bulky objects.

The optional individual seating has two captain’s seat divided by a console that houses a chiller, Rolls-Royce-branded wine glasses, and champagne flutes.

Truly, one must commute in style with the Rolls-Royce. Of course, there are millions upon millions of possible permutations with the interior and exterior option combinations. Truly, your imagination is your sole limitation.

Of course, the rear doors open suicide-style, with pop-out umbrellas, as expected.

With the trunk, there’s an available 1,228 liters of cargo. If you have the lounge seats folded flat, the space expands to 1,931 liters. That’s truly massive!

There are also swing-out seats from the split-opening tailgate, so you can have the most posh tail-gate party in the world

Bentley’s Bentayga came out first with a super luxurious SUV.

The Lamborghini Urus followed suit, which is the sportier, sharper ‘ute.

Now, Rolls-Royce has unveiled the Cullinan. We’re excited to get behind the wheel of the Cullinan, and hopefully, be its passengers as well in the near future.

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September 19, 2018

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