With the likes of Bentley and Maserati jumping into the game, it was inevitable that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars would eventually launch its own luxury sports utility vehicle. And given the British carmaker’s pedigree, it was bound to be something extraordinary. Indeed it is: the astonishing 2019 Cullinan.
Like every other Rolls-Royce, it can be dressed up with an almost unending number of bespoke touches. And with an overall look based on the latest generation Phantom, there’s no doubting its dynasty ties.
What makes this vehicle different is its off-road capability, a blend of all-wheel drive, aluminum space frame chassis and self-leveling air suspension that gives the Cullinan an ability to navigate snow, mud, sand and just about any other terrestrial condition.
“What makes Cullinan special is that it lacks nothing that a Rolls-Royce has in terms of luxury and performance and nothing that an all-wheel, go-anywhere SUV has in terms of toughness and off-road performance,” says Gerry Spahn, head of corporate communications for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in North America. “It is not a gussied-up Phantom.”
As part of active drive assistance, a video camera integrated into the front windshield scans the roadway ahead and feeds data to the onboard computer, which automatically adjusts the suspension to maintain that iconic Rolls-Royce “magic carpet ride.”
For those who prefer a quick getaway to slogging through the wilderness, Cullinan’s twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter V-12 engine propels the vehicle from zero to 60 in a mere 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Not bad for a car that weights 6,100 pounds (empty).
Ah yes, the price. For those who have to ask, the Cullinan comes in at a cool $325,000—roughly 40 percent more than its closest rival, the Bentley Bentayga.
With the glimmering Spirit of Ecstasy riding the hood and “RR” emblazoned on a Pantheon radiator grille inspired by the ancient Roman temple, the new Cullinan is most definitely a Rolls-Royce. But there’s also no mistaking the sleek, modern styling inspired by the Phantom luxury saloon car.
Coat of Many Colors
In typical Rolls-Royce style, the hardest thing about buying a Cullinan may be deciding which of the seemingly endless bespoke options is right for you. The Rolls-Royce palette features no less than 44,000 colors that can be applied to the interior and exterior, as well as 20,000 wood veneer combinations. Customers can also order the creation of new, original Rolls-Royce colors which they “own” and are reserved just for them.
Upscale All-Wheel Drive
Cullinan flips into off-road mode at the touch of a button on the central console. High-tech features like self-adjusting suspension and a video camera that reads road conditions ensure the vehicle always maintains its smooth-as-silk Rolls-Royce ride no matter what the terrain is like.
Palace on Wheels
Literally fit for a king, Cullinan’s rear passenger compartment features lounge seating that would put many airline first-class sections to shame; a central console cabinet with whiskey glasses, Champagne flutes and a cool chamber to keep the bubbly chilled; double touch screens and fold-down picnic tables; and lambswool floor mats for those who want to ride barefoot.
Room with a View
Separated from the passenger compartment by partition glass, the luggage zone at the rear of Cullinan offers plenty of room for baggage, shopping or whatever else the owners might want to store back there. Or it can be configured as a bespoke “viewing suite” with twin leather seats and a cocktail table.
By Joe Yogerst
Photos by James Lipman / jameslipman.com