Magic Carpet Ride
Recently, Rolls Royce released a new addition to their fleet. With many manufacturers turning to SUVs over traditional passenger cars, it was only a matter of time before the gentleman automotive tailors at Rolls-Royce surrendered to the market trends. The humble station wagon has become a thing of the past, and even though the thought of a Ghost Shooting Brake has caused stirrings in my nether regions for years, it was never going to become a market reality. So this was the alternative - the all new, and superbly styled Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
Watching the covers come off, it was clear Rolls-Royce have stuck to their roots, carrying over their key design concepts from the other models in their range. The hand polished stainless grille, standing tall and proud, flanked by slender rectangular headlights. Following down the flanks of the Cullinan, the SUV remains similar to its counterparts carrying on their love of the suicide doors and statesmanly angular lines drawing back to a curvaceous rear.
Rolls Royce have opted for a very clean and elegant seven-spoke 22” set of wheels for this initial release, which perfectly accentuate the polarising styling of the Cullinan, even if they do look a touch small due against the sheer size of the hunking body.
The designers at Rolls Royce have laid out a beautiful array of colours for the Cullinan. You don’t get the never ending book of options like you do at Bentley, however there are still a large range of varieties that could leave you playing with the “Configure your Rolls” section on their webpage for far too long. Let’s not forget, money talks, so I’m quite sure you could configure your Cullinan in any conceivable combination. As for options on the Cullinan, the list on the Configurator doesn’t elude too much information, however you do get to choose the colour combination of your umbrella, which hides in the driver's side suicide door. Rolls Royce haven't given you a large amount of options per se, its more about the customisation to make your Cullinan your own. Different wood selections, leather patterns, and whether you want an illuminated Spirit of Ecstacy or a Gold one. The options appear endless and there is a good chance that there will be no two Cullinans the same.
Rolls Royce’s core ethos has always been driving excellence, the experience has to be uncluttered and easy for passengers to enjoy the drive. The interior of the Cullinan is exactly as you’d expect following such a strict focus. It is elegant & sophisticated. Sticking with the ‘less is more’ approach, the interior is laid out nicely with a conservative design, but don’t confuse conservative with dull. Because where the Cullinans interior is perhaps simplistic it makes up for it in exquisite detail in quality and materials. The British marque have always pride themselves on being the absolute definition of build quality and the Cullinan we have no doubt will carry the weight of its legacy with ease.
So what makes this Rolls different to the others of the range? Well it bears that crucial detail of being labelled a SUV. The type of customer we see purchasing one of these is the Aristocrats of country Britain that shoot quail and attend wealthy fundraisers and galas.
So with that in mind, the Cullinan separates itself from the ordinary Phantom and Ghost range with a few extra trinkets. For example one of the interesting options on the unveil was the electronic rear seats, we aren't talking about the second row, we are talking about a secret third row seating that with the click of button drops the tailgate and slides out a pair of seats and small table for you. From this comfy perch the patrons of the Cullinan can enjoy a nice glass of Chablis and some pricey gouda while watching their million pound Polo team.
Infact almost everything in the Cullinan is electronically controlled, from the automatic closing doors, to the tailgate, headrests, rear tables and even the tow ball. It's all about making life easy. Why labour yourself when the Cullinan is your own five seated butler.
All of the striking looks, and plush interiors aside. The best part of the new Rolls Royce Cullinan is that they have stuck to their aristocratic pedigree. They have released their hunking SUV with the same 6¾ litre twin-turbocharged V12 that the Phantom gets. We are absolutely thrilled that Rolls haven’t sold out and dropped a sixteen turbo V8 in like some of their “competition”. Capacity downsizing is for the commoners!
Power and torque is down a touch from the Phantom due to a few minor differences and a couple more gears, but with over 560hp and 620lb of torque on tap, I’m sure that will be more than ‘adequate’ for prospective buyers.
0-100 times will be around the 6.5 seconds for anyone who cares, and power gets fed through the brilliantly smooth ZF eight speed transmission and then pushed through an all new AWD system which is based loosely on the BMW X-Drive all wheel drive system.
With potential starting prices of around $800,000 AUD. Will it hit the market goals like its competition, the “moderately” priced Bentayga, or ludioucrly optioned Range Rover Autobiography? I think it will. After all - design director Giles Taylor and his team began hypothesising five years ago. “We didn’t set out to do an SUV,” Taylor says, “We set out to define and deliver Rolls-Royce luxury in a high-bodied vehicle.” I think they have done that perfectly.