Rolls Royce Cullinan: Elegant brute

rolls royce cullinan
(Photos: Rolls Royce)
It was only a matter of time before Rolls Royce joined other exotic manufacturers on the SUV bandwagon, which has so far proved to be a compelling and enduring cash cow. Equally expected were accusations of “selling out” from a minority of non-client aficionados. However, Rolls Royce has historically been acquainted with inhospitable terrain — nine lightly modified cars notably served with T.E. Lawrence’s units during the Great Arab Revolt. Launched in 2018, the sophisticated Cullinan is no such ruggedly uncomplicated warhorse, but instead combines confident off-road ability with the ultra-luxurious appointment and comfort typical of a modern Rolls Royce.اضافة اعلان

Designated a “high-bodied all-terrain car” by Rolls Royce, rather than the more common “SUV”, the Cullinan’s angled, upright, and high-riding design well-integrates with the British luxury manufacturer’s cars, which are higher, bigger, and more upright than most. The Cullinan’s design is equal parts elegant and brutal, but is distinctly arrogant with its enormous signature Rolls Royce grille. In translating the brand’s design themes into a high-riding wagon body, the Cullinan is perhaps the most visually imposing of all Rollers, if not quite as immense as pictures might suggest.

Matching its statuesque proportions and powerful presence, the Cullinan is powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V12, shared with the brand’s second-generation flagship Phantom. Naturally balanced and silky smooth, yet abundantly ample with its large displacement, the Cullinan’s engine is thirsty in absolute terms. However, its 15l/100km combined fuel consumption rating is comparatively restrained, given the Cullinan’s height, weight, and output. In addition to its engine, gearbox, and bonnet-top “Spirit of Ecstasy” statuette, the Cullinan also shares architectural elements and lightweight aluminum construction with the Phantom.

Confident and composed
Stealthily silent despite its enormity and ample output, the Cullinan’s vast V12 is a relatively low boost engine, with scant little of the idling speed lag often associated with turbocharging. It is almost immediate in its off-the-line response, and develops its full 850Nm torque by just 1,600rpm, while its maximum 571HP arrives in lineal fashion at a low-revving 5,000rpm. Effortlessly abundant with a seemingly inexhaustible tidal wave of torque to draw on, the Cullinan hauls its hefty 2,660kg with near indefatigable ease and mighty mid-range versatility.

Transmitting power through a slick and smooth shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox, Rolls Royce’s first SUV features a permanent four-wheel-drive system that can vary power between front and rear, as necessary, for reassuringly high levels of road-holding. Driveline components are meanwhile strengthened to deal with the rigors of off-road driving. The Cullinan’s four-wheel-drive also develops plenty of traction to effectively put power down to the road, and allows it to pounce through 0-100km/h in just 5.2 seconds and on to an electronically-governed 250km/h top speed.

Comfortable and compliant, the tall and heavy Cullinan’s handling traits nevertheless proved surprisingly composed during test drive. Expected body lean was well-managed and minimized by adaptive air suspension and 48v-powered active anti-roll bars, which alternately tauten for cornering control, and relax for straight line comfort and longer off-road wheel travel. Four-wheel-steering, meanwhile, effectively shortens the wheelbase by turning rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front at low speeds for enhanced agility and turn-in, or in the same direction for high-speed stability and lane change responses.

High tech, high luxury
Ironing out the edges of rough road imperfections with a forgivingly supple quality despite low profile 255/45R22 tires, the Cullinan’s “wafting” ride is also complemented by confident high-speed stability. The Cullinan’s sophisticated double-wishbone front and multi-link rear adaptive air suspension system uses a stereo camera to “read” the road ahead, and make constant adjustments accordingly, to deliver magic carpet-like ride comfort. Adaptive air suspension allows the Cullinan to raise its ride height for enhanced off-road ability, with a 540mm water fording maximum.

Whisper-quiet inside, bar a distant hint of its evocative V12 soundtrack when at full tilt, the Cullinan’s richly appointed cabin offers a commandingly high driving position behind its long and tall bonnet. Its opulent accommodation features comfortably upright seating and trademark Rolls Royce touches, including light but accurate steering, a slim steering column-mounted gear selection stalk, and a “power” dial in place of a conventional tachometer. Front visibility is reasonably good and is supplemented with numerous sophisticated driver assistance and safety systems.

Accessed through signature Rolls Royce rear-hinged “coach” or “suicide” doors at the rear, the Cullinan’s cabin is spaciously accommodating, and finished with fine leathers, woods, metals, soft textures, and deep padding to create an indulgently rich cocooned ambiance. It is available with either a folding three-seat bench or individual rear seats, with a glass luggage compartment partition for additional rear refinement. The horizontally split tailgate reveals a generous 560-litre boot, and can be optionally equipped with electrically-operated pop-up viewing seats.

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