Turns Out Rolls-Royce's Upcoming SUV Won't Be An Actual SUV After All


Rolls-Royce is too good to make an SUV so it has created the "HSV."

Rolls-Royce has been dropping hints all along that its SUV, known as Project Cullinan, wouldn’t be like anything else on the market. First we saw shots of the company’s test mule, a jacked-up Phantom. Then there was the interview in which BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk said the upcoming Rolls SUV “will not be a monster truck.” Now we are getting word from Motoring via Andrew Boyle, global product communications manager for Rolls-Royce, that Project Cullinan won’t lead to an SUV at all but rather a “high-sided vehicle.”

“Project Cullinan? We call it a high-sided vehicle. SUV is not necessarily the right thing to call it because it’s not necessarily sports, it’s not necessarily utility.” Motoring is betting on the Rolls HSV instead being a jacked-up station wagon or shooting brake. Boyle wouldn’t drop specifics on the body design but did say that it would be different than anything out today. “A number of other brands are entering into this area as well, with their own interpretations of what a luxury SUV should be. You’ll have to wait to see what we decide it should be, but I think you’ll find that it’ll be a different interpretation to what’s available today.” Boyle also added that Project Cullinan—a name likely to be changed—would equally blend both heritage and modernity.

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We like the idea of Rolls-Royce blazing its own trail but the automaker might not want to fly too close to the sun. SUVs are all the rage at the moment, not wagons. Yes, Europe loves wagons but the sport utility vehicle has a global appeal and the luxury SUV market in particular is booming. Rolls-Royce may not find the same sales success in the currently nonexistent HSV segment. Of course ultra-luxury automakers basically have a license to print money at this point. Rolls-Royce could show off a station wagon standing five feet tall at Geneva and its order book would likely be filled before the show wrapped. Pessimism aside, we are glad that one automaker has decided not to sell its soul to the SUV in exchange for a never-ending supply of cash.

The idea of a raised Rolls-Royce station wagon packing a monstrous V12 is infinitely more appealing than an SUV. Besides, it sounds like this HSV would check all the sport utility vehicle boxes (seating for seven, cargo space, high ride height) while performing better on-road, which is where it will primarily be driven. As much as Bentley likes to tout the Bentayga’s off-road abilities the reality is that no one buys a $200,000 SUV to drive it on dirt roads. Cullinan has a launch date of late 2018 so we should start seeing more of it, both in terms of spy shots and at car shows, come 2017.

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