ROLLS ROYCE CULLINAN
Instant solution to unsealed palace driveways
Rolls’ new plutocrat for unpaved places
THE PRICE tag isn’t the only thing absurdly large about a Rolls-royce. Making them look and feel bigger and more impressive than every other car has always been a core principle. Ask, or perhaps force, its designers to produce an SUV like the Cullinan, then, and you’re going to end up with something that would belittle a behemoth.
As one crayon-wielder admitted, they basically looked at the basic, two-box design of other modern luxury SUVS and decided it wasn’t big enough (and nor was the 7 Series platform BMW offered), so they built an all-new, unique three-box design that’s meant to capture “capability and elegance”.
It certainly captures attention – at 5341mm long, 2164mm wide and 1835mm tall it would want to – and never more so than when it’s ploughing down a steep dirt track in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, straight at a bunch of baffled hikers. It must have felt like a particularly aristocratic house was about to run them down.
I would say I was surprised by just how capable the Cullinan was when thrown at some steep and rocky challenges, but anyone who’s driven a modern Range Rover knows just how incredible and bizarre the mix of luxury with off-road ability can be.
What’s impressive here is how simple the big Rolls is to use. Apparently the brand’s buyers like these cars to be a ‘detox’ from their busy, supercar-addled lives, so you get no shift paddles, no manual transmission control, and a one-touch ‘Off-road’ button.
Everything else is taken care of by the company’s first all-wheeldrive system and a surfeit of power and torque from a massive 6.75-litre, twin-turbocharged V12 making 420kw and 850Nm, which arrives at just 1600rpm. Put your foot down and all that nose rears at the sky, it’s fabulous.
Rolls also claims to have equipped the Cullinan with its famously wafting ‘magic carpet’ ride, no matter what you throw it at. Sure enough, it’s almost surreal in its quietude and floatiness on sealed roads, but even actual magic can’t totally silence the clatter of gravel roads.
It’s also on loose stuff like that where the Cullinan’s light and airy steering feel is just slightly disconcerting, because you’re not entirely sure of what your wheels are up to.
Generally speaking, though, this seemingly inevitable Rolls SUV delivers on its mission statement of being ‘Effortless, Everywhere’, and no doubt will achieve the company’s goal of being hugely profitable.
The first year’s production is already sold out, despite a reassuringly large price tag starting at $685,000.