It was three years ago that Rolls-Royce announced it would launch Cullinan. At the time, the famous marque explained that customers around the world had asked it to build “The Rolls-Royce of SUVs… with luxury, performance and usability not seen before in the SUV market”. Many of these customers were younger, hugely successful high-net-worth individuals heavily engaged in the experience economy, “and they wanted a Rolls-Royce that would take them to the ends of the Earth in ultimate luxury”.
Named after the largest diamond discovered (now residing among the British Crown Jewels), the Cullinan is an all-terrain high-bodied car that features a contemporary and functional design and is the first “three-box” car in the SUV-sector. Cullinan’s rear partition wall creates a distinct environment for passengers, separated from the luggage compartment; and it is the second new Rolls-Royce to sit on the all-new aluminium “Architecture of Luxury”.
It was, says Rolls-Royce, “tested to destruction all over the planet… an incredibly capable off-roader that sees the development of the ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ for off-road enjoyment, without sacrificing any Rolls-Royce on-road behaviour”.
The 6.75 litre twin-turbo V12 Rolls-Royce engine delivers 563bhp/420kW and 850Nm/627lb ft of torque to the all-new all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system; and the Cullinan offers a suite of Bespoke features developed specifically for the many various lifestyles of its owners including the Viewing Suite and the Recreation Module.
Announcing the launch of the Cullinan, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös said, “Luxury is no longer an urban concept. More and more it is about embracing and experiencing the wider world. Our customers expect to go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be. The Cullinan is incomparable and dramatically evolves the parameters of super-luxury travel, translating Rolls-Royce’s ethos of ‘Effortlessness’ into physical capability, anywhere in the world.”
Added Peter Schwarzenbauer, chairman of Rolls-Royce and a BMW Group board member, “The launch of a new Rolls-Royce model is always a seminal moment in the luxury industry. Today we are setting a new standard by creating a new class of motoring and motor car for customers who are well-connected, highly mobile and have a global perspective. They want a new type of motor car that gives them unbounded access in ultimate luxury. Their sense of adventure and daring demands a ‘go-anywhere in ultimate luxury’ motor car that will both take them to and meet them at the pinnacle of life.”
According to Giles Taylor, director of design for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, “From the very beginning the design team treated this brand new Rolls-Royce as a unique, high bodied car. With global customer expectations in mind, our aim was two-fold – realise a presence to match the magnificent capability of Cullinan, whilst setting sector defining standards for luxury and elegance. We know that many of our luxury patrons pursue sports or leisure hobbies that require precisely this type of go anywhere vehicle – Cullinan’s design gesture had to possess an immediate sense of effortless accomplishment.
“The label SUV is now applied to anything with a two-box silhouette and the least suggestion of going off tarmac. We envisioned an authentic, three-box high-bodied all-terrain car with a convention-challenging design and absolute capability that would satisfy the adventurous urges of our clients.
And a final word from Cory Richards, National Geographic photographer and star of The Final Challenge, “This landscape is savage, but this journey has been seamless. What’s unique is the ability to absorb the road without thought and simply let yourself get lost. You don’t so much drive as you float and it seems to get almost smoother the faster you go. The turning and the grip are unreal, almost hugging the road and seeming to glide above it. Sometimes making pictures is as much about getting there as it is about the image itself.”
The Cullinan… In More Detail
For the first time a Rolls-Royce has an opening tailgate, called “The Clasp”, developed as a nod to the era when luggage was mounted on the exterior of the motor car so the occupants did not travel with their belongings. The rear profile of the Cullinan is a two-part “D-Back” format, with the bustle denoting the place of the luggage. “The Clasp” opens and closes in its two sections automatically at the touch of the key fob button.
The rear passenger compartment has been designed to offer “the best seat in the house” for the owner’s particular needs. Two rear configurations are offered – Lounge Seats or Individual Seats. The Lounge Seat configuration is the more functional of the two options. With space for three passengers in the rear, it will likely be more attractive to families. The rear seats also fold down – a first for Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce’s investment in making the rear of the Cullinan more practical has the side benefit of offering a loading length longer than a Range Rover Vogue Extended Wheelbase.
The Individual Seat configuration is “for those who value the ultimate luxury an SUV can offer over practicality”. The two individual rear seats are separated by a Fixed Rear Centre Console incorporating a drinks cabinet with Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator. The seats also move in a number of planes to offer ultimate comfort while travelling in the rear.
One final feature is related to the creation of the “three-box” SUV. “Inspired by the age when one never travelled with one’s luggage, a glass partition isolates the passenger cabin from the luggage compartment, creating an inner ecosystem for the occupants. In addition to enhanced and class-leading silence within the cabin, a further benefit becomes clear in the hottest and coldest of environments. Thanks to the sealed cabin created by the glass partition wall, the occupants can remain in the optimum temperature even when the luggage compartment stands open.”