After a long and controversial gestation the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is finally here. The 6.75-litre V12 SUV has landed, and here’s everything you need to know.
Let’s start with numbers. The wealthy gentleman’s off-roader produces 563bhp and 627lb ft of torque from just 1600rpm; enough to reach the 155mph limiter easily enough and dispatch the 0-62mph sprint in… well, Rolls doesn’t supply figures for such an uncouth activity, so we’ll just have to assume that it’s plenty brisk enough, thank you very much.
Built in two styles, with four large ‘Individual’ seats and a 526-litre boot or a three-person rear ‘Lounge’ bench and 560 litres out back (with the parcel shelf left in place), the Cullinan is easily the most capable Rolls-Royce ever made. Double wishbones at the front and five-link rear suspension at the back link to adjustable air suspension for a maximum wading depth of 540mm – greater than any other ‘super-luxury’ SUV, says Rolls, but some way short of the Range Rover’s 900mm.
A clever feature that should silence some of the critics is an in-built air compression system in the springs. Should the sensors detect a wheel starting to leave the ground and slip, the system actively pushes the tyre back into the surface and restores grip. For maximum off-road potential, a single button marked ‘Off Road’ is known within Rolls as the ‘Everywhere’ button.
To ensure that patrons get to where they’re going without having to get their trousers or skirts dirty on muddy sills, the Cullinan’s doors extend below and around the side sills, ensuring all the dirt stays on the door, not on any edge that your legs might touch.
Versus existing Rolls-Royce platforms the Cullinan’s drive and prop shafts are stronger. The suspension struts are larger, with more volume to cushion off-road blows, and we probably don’t really need to mention the fact that this is the firm’s first four-wheel drive, its first vehicle with folding rear seats (bench seat only) and its first to use a tailgate. Pro tip: Rolls calls the tailgate “The Clasp.”
Rolls says the maximum loading length offered in Lounge-spec cars eclipses that of the Range Rover Extended Wheelbase. It’s 2245mm, if you’re wondering, and with the seats folded and the normally-low boot floor electronically raised to meet them, maximum luggage space is a van-like 1930 litres.
Spec the Individual rear seats and the rear chairs are separated by a drinks cabinet complete with Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and a matching decanter, plus champagne flutes and a fridge. No one’s going to go thirsty, then. In this configuration the boot is separated entirely by a glass partition, presumably so that the rich smells of your luxurious leather baggage don’t mix with those of the Cullinan’s own leather seats.
If you’re carrying the key you can simply reach out to the door handle and the car will unlock. Naturally the rear doors are rear-hinged, as per Rolls tradition. As it unlocks, the whole car drops by 40mm to ease your entry into its cocoon, and once you’re inside you can simply press a button and the doors will close themselves. The same goes for exiting: after everyone is out, a single button-press will shut all the doors.
That lost 40mm is regained when the ignition is pressed. A surprisingly small, thick-rimmed and heated steering wheel identifies this, says Rolls, as a car that will be driven by its owners. It’s no traditionalist inside thanks to digital instruments and the latest infotainment systems, all of which are likewise designed to appeal to the more involved owner.
Available tech includes ordinary stuff like active cruise control, collision warnings, lane-departure warnings and the like. On top of that you can have night vision and a wildlife and pedestrian warning system that works both in the day and at night. There’s a 360-degree camera system with a bird’s eye view for tricky off-roading, a huge 21-square-inch head-up display and the highest iteration of navigation available in the BMW Group. Don’t forget the Viewing Suite, either.
There are five USB ports dotted around the cabin, plus wireless device charging at the front. The main interface screen is touch-sensitive as well as responding to the rotary dial between the front seats. Rear passengers should never feel short-changed thanks to a higher seating position and a vast panoramic sunroof. This thing, however much it costs, could very well be the best car ever made.