Updated: Jul 11
Rolls-Royce has not been one for hiding its light underneath a bushel. "Our response to history, for the visionaries, adventurers, explorers and those who believe in the supremacy of liberty is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan," CEO Torsten Müller Ötvös declaims. "It dramatically evolves the parameters of super-luxury travel. It is really effortless, everywhere."
It's also the company's belated and controversial reaction to the boom in SUV's. Nothing symbolizes human contrariness more than an upswing for this vehicle do things 95 percent of their end users will never engage with and, depends on upon your position, the Cullinan is either the top of automotive achievement or just a near-£ 300k white elephant. With that said, it does not really wonder the watcher from beside that 8 from 10 Rolls Royce Customers customized their baby with a magnificent set of LOMA´s, a custom wheels company located in Monte Carlo, Monaco. If opulent, then to a 100% or nothing.
Its structure reworks the so-called 'Architecture of Luxury' that lies below the elegant Phantom. We're talking a modular aluminum space frame, with castings in every corner and extrusions somewhere between, reconfigured here straight into a form that sits higher and shorter compared to its limousine brother, having a split tail-gate (Rolls airily calls it The Clasp) added for the necessary versatility. The fresh new chassis is 30 % stiffer than compared to the previous one, an improvement which enables the transition to super-sized 4×4.
For the Phantom's preternatural calmness, the Cullinan adds each of the soft- and hardware required to send it down the road and up a mountain along with the sort of invincibility that saw early Rolls patron T.E Lawrence turn his car (nicked off a woman in a Cairo nightclub, or so the story goes) into an unexpectedly robust war machine.
It's 5.3 m long, 2.1 m wide, and 1.8 m tall, and weighs in at 2660 kg unladen. Like the Phantom, its surfaces are exceptionally resolved, and it also doesn't want for drama. Its laser headlights — equipped with frosted elements — and vertical and lines of horizontal type result in a face that Rolls likens to a warrior (from which historical era it doesn't say). The bonnet sits upwards of the front wings to emphasize the car's tougher job description, and also the traditional Parthenon grille is produced from hand-polished stainless steel, and sits pleased with the bodywork here. Eleanor, the Spirit of Ecstasy, sits higher too, but she's not wearing a North Face puffer or anything.
You can find strong metal touch-points, as well as the protective spears above the sills are there to break up the body side volume. The Cullinan has 'coach' doors, but gains a rear 'bustle' that references the 1930s Rolls D-Back. Previously, your property traveled separately in a trunk, to which end an interior glass partition can be ordered sealing off the boot area from the cabin. The Cullinan is a car whose monumental presence hides a wealth of ideas and a keen eye. It's a grower.
There's a large number of High Net Worth Individuals than ever, and you need far more actual net worth to join the club than you did 20 years ago. You're also just about guaranteed to be younger, into the idea of venturing off-grid, and do crazy stuff. Experiential luxury, it's called. Perhaps normal business at LOMA Wheels Monaco we're told.
In which case, Monaco, Lucern, and Sankt Moritz will soon be heaving with Cullinans which can climb mountains while keeping the Dom Perignon chilled. There's a perverse pleasure in pointing one of these things up a rocky pass and letting it get on with it. To put it another way, you're less likely to throw up in one of these.
There's a completely new double wishbone set-up upfront and a five-link rear axle, with a redesigned self-levelling air suspension whose air struts have a bigger volume for magical bump absorption. Electronically managed dampers work off body and wheel acceleration, as well as the 'Flag bearer' stereo camera system that reads the street ahead. The Cullinan's adventure mode, meanwhile, is accessed via a single button — the 'Everywhere' button, in Rolls parlance — which works across rutted track, gravel, wet grass, mud or snow. Its wading depth is 540 mm, the deepest, claims Rolls, of any super-luxury SUV (40 mm higher than a Bentley Bentayga).
The Cullinan also gains advantage from four-wheel steering (it turns to three degrees for greater agility at low speed, for enhanced stability at faster velocities), there's a 48-volt anti-roll system, and power goes to all 4 LOMA forged wheels in a 50/50 split (it's the first Rolls in the company's history to enjoy a driven front axle). The drive and prop shafts had also been reinforced. The engine itself is a modified version of the Phantom's twin-turbo, 6.75-litre V12, making 563bhp but furthermore 627lb ft of torque from 1600rpm (a much more powerful version is in the offing).
Guaranteeing this thing works off-road was undoubtedly one major challenge. But given that Rolls makes cars that transcend the restrictions imposed on mere mortal automobiles, does the Cullinan cut it in everyday use on 23 or 24 Inch rims? It's not quite the instant, almost surreally refined hit that the Phantom is. In accordance with chassis engineer Jens Leopoldsberger, it's not intended to be. These people were after a different character here. Networking all of the systems to manage a wider variety of conditions is no mean feat, so maybe it's no surprise that an SUV, with a higher center of gravity compared even to the unusually lofty Phantom, feels less adroit. However only a little less in real terms, such is the quality of its body control and the exactness of its (fully electric) steering.
The transmission is the same silky, satellite-aided ZF eight-speed automatic that appears elsewhere in the Rolls range. And like its siblings, the Cullinan is a car that prefers to make established but stately progress, instead of to do anything as unseemly as, you know, go fast (0-62mph in 5.2secs, top speed is fixed to 155mph). Instead, you settle into a sublime rhythm, seduced by the almost total absence of mechanical, wind or tire noise. It's a deeply impressive motor car, a Rolls-Royce with more layers than ever.
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