When Rolls-Royce announced three years ago that it would launch Cullinan, it did so in the knowledge that its 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. Automotive mobility has always been a fast moving and dynamic business, with new concepts appearing with great regularity. But those new concepts need to be perfected in order to be adopted by those customers who will accept no compromise – the patrons of true luxury.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is Rolls-Royce as it’s never been seen before. Named after the largest diamond ever discovered, when Sir Henry Royce said, “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it,” he could have had Cullinan in mind.
“We knew we had to offer our clients what they couldn’t find in the SUV market,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “They do not accept limitations or compromises in their lives. They are the new pioneers, and for them it’s about their sense of adventure and daring in how they live their experiences. This approach to life demands a motor car that can go anywhere in ultimate luxury and style – Rolls-Royce style. Hence Cullinan.”
Cullinan awakes at the touch of the unlock button on the Bespoke key, or by simply reaching out to its beautifully tactile stainless steel door handle. It lowers itself by 40mm to make entry effortless as the iconic Rolls-Royce coach doors stand open to welcome driver and passengers to their adventure.
Younger and more adventurous customers wanted a Rolls-Royce that would take them completely off the beaten track and reward them with life’s most enriching experiences. The integration of new technologies into the architecture was also key to ensuring the fundamental quality of Cullinan as “Effortless, Everywhere.” The engineering team began by creating a drivetrain that would bring Rolls-Royce’s famous ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ off-road.
“The drivetrain system we engineered for Cullinan had one key job to do,” explains Caroline Krismer, Engineering Project Leader for Cullinan. “To bring the famed Rolls-Royce ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ to all other terrains possible, while ensuring class-leading on-road behavior in the SUV sector.”
Rolls-Royce’s celebrated Magic Carpet Ride impresses off-road as well as on-road thanks to the new lighter architecture, and the latest generation of self-levelling air suspension. Through a thorough re-engineering of the existing air suspension system – including adding larger air struts with more air volume to cushion the blows of the toughest of terrains – the strengthening of drive and prop shafts, the inclusion of drive to the front wheels as well as the back for the first time in Rolls-Royce history, and the complete reworking of the new 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 Rolls-Royce engine to deliver just the right level of torque (850Nm) at the lowest possible revolutions (1,600rpm). The Rolls-Royce engineering team has ensured Cullinan will take owners to places no modern Rolls-Royce owner has travelled in luxury before.
The suspension makes millions of calculations every second as it continuously varies the electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system – reacting to body and wheel acceleration, steering inputs and camera information. A new double-wishbone front axle and 5-link rear axle deliver astounding levels of control over lateral roll and shear forces, and deliver incredible agility and stability, as does the addition of four-wheel steering, all contributing to incredible drivability and nimbleness.
“Cullinan is luxury in its purest form blended with perfect practicality and off-road capability,” comments Müller-Ötvös. “Effortless, Everywhere is not just the promise behind Cullinan. It’s the fact.”
A LOOK INSIDE
Inside, the cabin of Cullinan combines authentic Rolls-Royce luxury with simple, symmetrical functionality to express the car’s inherent strength. Whether the fascia and center stack of the dashboard or the arm rests on the doors, structural horizontal and vertical elements underpin the interior design. The center stack is framed by hand-finished metal pillars that bridge the upper fascia and middle console, giving it a sense of robustness, whilst also suspending the horizontal elements of the fascia to give a more commanding feel.
The central information screen is for the first time touch sensitive, allowing the driver to quickly select functions, map views and vehicle set-up whilst on the trail. This portal can still be controlled from the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy controller which nestles on the central console with the ‘Off-Road’ button, Hill Descent Control button and Air Suspension height adjustment controls.
The upper fascia is clad in a newly developed contemporary ‘Box Grain’ black leather – a durable and water resistant boarded leather similar to that used in Italian high-end luggage and handbag design. It gives the fascia a sense of width as it runs across its upper segment, allowing the jewelry-like elements of clock and air vents to stand out beautifully. Supporting this upper section is a strong band of wood that is molded in three-dimensions to flow out to the center stack, whilst the entire dashboard is protected by leather pads on top and at the bottom. The top pad is fashioned in a wing like fashion, suggesting muscularity and movement, as well as the functionality of a cockpit.
The seats in Cullinan have a bold, confident character, showcasing Rolls-Royce quality and craftsmanship. Designed to suit the more casual and dynamic quality of Cullinan, they feature a simple but modern horseshoe graphic which emphasizes the supportive bolsters of the seat. These new seats also showcase Rolls-Royce’s mastery of leather craft as this entire backrest panel has been crafted from a single piece of leather to pick out a highly three-dimensional surface.
One final feature brings Rolls-Royce’s ultimate level of luxury to this configuration of Cullinan, creating the first truly “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.
The Complete Package
A host of other cutting-edge technology makes Rolls-Royce Cullinan the most technologically advanced car of its type in the world. Further equipment includes: Night Vision and Vision Assist including daytime and night time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view; Active Cruise Control; Collision Warning; Cross-Traffic Warning, Lane Departure and Lane Change Warning; an industry leading 7×3 High-Resolution Head-Up Display, WiFi hotspot, and of course the latest Navigation and Entertainment Systems.
For those not behind the wheel, the world’s most spectacular scenery is to be seen from a privileged position. Those in the rear sit higher than those in the front of the car on Rolls-Royce’s Pavilion Seating, enjoying grandstand views of their surroundings thanks to the large glazed area of Cullinan’s side windows and industry-leading panoramic glass roof. And if they wish to locate themselves or their latest far-flung discovery, they can zero in on their location on the rear touchscreen map. Also, no photographic opportunity will be missed as all electronic devices can be charged via the five USB ports around the cabin, whilst phones can be wirelessly charged in the front of the cabin.
Arriving at their remote destination, the occupants can descend without dirtying their trouser legs as both front and rear coach doors wrap low under the sill of Cullinan, ensuring that all dirt remains on the outside of the door. A feature only Rolls-Royce would have considered.
“History set our precedent, and today Rolls-Royce answers its call to action,” comments Müller-Ötvös. “Our answer to the visionaries, adventurers, explorers and those who believe in the supremacy of liberty is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.”
To learn more about the Cullinan visit rolls-roycemotorcars.com. Photos courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motorcars.