They’re all doing it you know; super luxury brands are turning on their heels and rushing to join the SUV club. Maserati decided the Levante was a good idea, Bentley asked Audi to lend them the Q7 to create a Bentayga, Lamborghini went nuts with a Urus and there will be a Ferrari offering soon. But heaven forbid can the world accept arguably the greatest luxury brand having a crack themselves? Well the much publicised Rolls Royce Cullinan has landed down under. Today I saw it with my very own eyes and I’m still getting over it.
The Cullinan is the latest nameplate in the century old history of a brand that has a foothold in not just motoring but also aviation. The Wraith that we drove a couple of years back was a big departure from what was traditionally considered the brand’s bread and butter four-door saloons. But this creation is something entirely different. It’s a 4×4 SUV with an enormous petrol V12 and all the luxury that comes with that Spirit of Ecstasy ornament sitting proudly above the lavish grille.
The car as you’d expect sits tall and very upright, it’s slab like in proportions and has a rear split tail gate (they call it a ‘clasp’) that you can sit on, like you’re at the Deni Ute Muster. The example unveiled in Sydney was black, when the sheet lifted, I internally commented to myself “my god this is like a million-dollar London cab”. Harsh, but hey I reckon you may have thought the same.
But after circling the beast like a dog twirling around deciding where to sit, my brain decided yup I’m in. Plus, I did sit in the Cullinan. Like all Rolls Royce motor cars, you almost feel like you should remove your shoes. In fact, I even wore a suit jacket such is this type of occasion.
The plush pile carpet is so lush should you drop the key fob, you’d struggle to ever find it again. Up front it’s a typical Rolls Royce affair, mammoth attention to fit and finish, the finest materials and an infotainment screen that can be hidden away. The only real difference is everything is a little more upright, climbing up into a Rolls Royce is something new although it does lower 40mm. I can only imagine the sense of superiority looking down on the world when on the move.
There were two rear seats / thrones on the model displayed. But you can elect to option the ‘Lounge Seat’ configuration to accommodate three. The seats were divided by Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator cool box. Because when you go bush, you clearly need to hit the drink and do it well.
Fold down infotainment screens are provided for whoever needs to be back there. Rolls Royce cars are sealed off from the outside world pretty damn well as it is, but there’s a problem with the Cullinan. It has a tailgate; the poor millionaires may be exposed to the outside world when their driver needs to fetch a picnic basket. But alas the problem has been solved, a thick glass partition keeps the main cabin separated from the cargo area. Incidentally the rear compartment offers a standard 560 litres of space, or 600 with the parcel shelf removed.
Rolls Royce say the Cullinan is the “most versatile, family oriented, fun-to-drive super-luxury SUV available today”. Only a select few families will be able to judge that to be honest, although the general school of thought is that the Cullinan will become the biggest selling Roller ever.
Ins and Outs.
A silky 6.75 litre twin-turbo V12 engines delivers 420kW / 850Nm via an all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system. “The drivetrain system we engineered for Cullinan had one key job to do,” explains Caroline Krismer, Engineering Project Leader for Cullinan, “to bring the famed Rolls-Royce ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ to all other terrains possible, while ensuring class-leading on-road behaviour in the SUV sector.”
Now look, I don’t think I’ll ever know just how capable the Cullinan is away from the palaces where it will usually reside. I’d like to tackle Big Red at Birdsville or have a red hot go at Gunshot Creek on the Telegraph track in North Queensland, but hey I’m a realist plus a sarcastic one to boot. But there are some big claims coming from the BMW-owned company.
An electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system uses an air compression system to force down any wheel losing traction, ensuring all four-paws stay grounded.
There is one button to switch on the 4×4 tricks, known internally as the ‘Everywhere button’. Should the situation arise where you ever encountered a stream the Cullinan has up to 540mm of wadding ability at its highest ride height.
The infotainment screen is now touch sensitive and follows the BMW style of navigating around, albeit with bespoke graphics. Further gadgets include 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; an industry leading 7×3 High-Resolution Head-Up Display and WiFi hotspot.
Should you want an off the shelf Rolls Royce Cullinan you’re looking at a $685,000 driveaway deal. The thing is, no one does that. There’d be very few Rolls Royce around that are the same. The bespoke options are likely to skyrocket north of $800,000. But at this level, it’s all relative.
The EFTM Scoreboard.
A rating is impossible because I’m yet to drive one. But to stand next to one is tantamount to standing next to an obscene and remarkable goliath. Watch this space…