The world's ultimate SUV has plenty of surprises.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is not only the first SUV from the luxury brand, it also marks a dramatic change in the ideology of a brand that for decades has sold rather small volumes, with the Cullinan hoping to bolster sales immensely. In the wake of the reveal of the first Rolls-Royce SUV, here are ten things to know about the Cullinan.
The Cullinan diamond is the world’s largest diamond ever discovered - a 3,106 carat rough diamond found in the Cullinan region of South Africa, and named after the mine’s chairman, Thomas Cullinan, in 1905. After two years of attempting to sell the diamond, it was gifted to King Edward VII for his 66th birthday, and the diamond still resides in the British Crown Jewels. Like the diamond, the Cullinan is the largest Rolls Royce around, and establishes new highs in terms of the quality the brand stands for – symbolizing a vehicle befitting of royalty.
BMW has just teased the new X7 SUV – a luxury flagship to sit above the X5 and provide even more luxury than the 7 Series luxury sedan. It was originally suggested the Cullinan might share a platform with it, but Rolls-Royce has instead used the ‘Architecture of Luxury’ – an all-aluminum spaceframe chassis, renowned for its stiffness and engineered to improve comfort and luxury. The Cullinan shares this architecture with the latest generation Rolls-Royce Phantom, and every Rolls going forward will share this basic architecture platform.
Suicide doors have become a staple at Rolls Royce, with their coupe’s notoriously featuring the power opening and closing style of door. But the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the only SUV currently on the market to feature suicide rear doors that hinge at the rear rather than the front. The Kia Telluride concept featured them, but as that’s yet to go to production, that makes the Cullinan part of an exclusive club with just one member.
You may look at the Cullinan’s styling and think it’s a typical 2 box design, but Rolls insist it’s actually a 3 box. It’s for the pure reason that there’s actually a glass divide separating the Cullinan’s passenger cabin from the trunk space, that can be deployed or retracted to ensure occupants are separated from their luggage in an age old tradition whereby the elite need not share quarters with their luggage.
A Rolls-Royce SUV is first and foremost a Roll-Royce, and as such the interior is held to a certain standard. It lives up to it with warm rich leathers, real wood, and spacious accommodation. The seating is available in two configurations – a ‘lounge’ setup with a rear bench seat, or individual thrones for each of 4 occupants.
The benefits of an SUV over a sedan are primarily those of practicality. The Cullinan surpasses expectations by offering 21 cubic feet of trunk volume with the rear seats in place that swells to nearly 67 cu ft when the rear seats are folded and the parcel shelf is removed. Load length is impressive too, with a maximum length available of 88.3 inches with the rear seats flattened. The floor of the trunk can even be electronically raised to meet the height of the rear seats when folded, and lowered to ensure smaller items don’t slip around too much.
This may seem strange, but the Cullinan is the first time a central display in a Rolls has been touch operated. But the Cullinan also boasts a range of other technologies like night-vision, day and night vision assist with animal detection, active cruise control, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a range of collision avoidance systems. 5 USB ports are distributed throughout the cabn, and wireless device charging is enabled in the front of the cabin.
Something only Rolls-Royce would think of, getting in and out of the Cullinan is possible with minimum effort and without dirtying your pants. When the doors are opened, the Cullinan is dropped by nearly 2 inches to ensure easy access – and the doors are operable via a single touch. Furthermore, the suicide doors – titled as Coach Doors by Rolls – are clamshell in design and wrap under the body, ensuring that when they open, they take all the dirt with them, rather than leaving muddy sills that occupants might brush against.
For the brand’s entire existence, all of its products have been rear-wheel driven. But in keeping wth the tag ‘effortless, everywhere’ the Cullinan boasts all-wheel driven for the first time ever on a Rolls-Royce. Of course it’s linked to the latest self-levelling air suspension from Rolls, which has been calibrated specifically for off-road usage as well as on-road.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan doesn’t boast a low range transfer case, so it might not be a full on 4x4. However, it offers a wading depth of more than 21 inches, and it features a special ‘everywhere mode’ that configures the torque delivery specifically to go anywhere. This mode allows the 6.75-liter bi-turbo V12 to deliver all 627 lb-ft and 563hp to all four wheels effectively even on slippery surfaces.