Just about every major manufacturer now has an SUV in their line up including the likes of Lamborghini and Bentley, and now it seems the masterminds over at Goodwood have gone and created their own, truly unique purpose-built luxury SUV. Earlier this week I was invited down to one of my favourite places, P & A Wood of Essex, for an evening with the Rolls Royce Cullinan.
When the Cullinan was first unveiled to the world, the responses were mixed with a lot of criticism being aimed at the styling and to be honest I wasn’t the biggest fan of it when I first saw the sheet come off. However, I thought the same about the Bentley Bentayga and now I’m a huge convert. It seems to really appreciate the thought and ingenuity that has gone into the Cullinan, you have to see it in the flesh. Like the famous diamond it is named after, the Cullinan is grand in its stature it stands out from everything else.
RR are launching the car with a choice of 16 standard exterior colours with an extended option of 16 more “Commissioned Collection” colours if you want yours to really stand out in a crowd but I think that this particular model, finished in Magma Red with a contrasting tan interior, shone like a precious gemstone in the midsummer sun. I have seen a few different images of the car in this colour and in general, I prefer darker blues, greens and blacks, but I must admit it really worked for me. The sweeping roofline gives the car an almost sleek silhouette whilst various pieces of chrome trim break up the colour a bit and the enormous 22″ polished wheels look relatively modest.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be a true Rolls Royce if there weren’t some special design details in place to make the car stand out from the rest of the market and along with the standard Rolls touches like the rear-hinged doors and retracting Spirit of Ecstacy on the bonnet, there is also special trim along the bottom of the car that protects one’s clothes from getting any kind of dirt on them when getting in and out of the car. There are also some lovely little details in the headlights and taillights along with an individual plaque on each vehicle produced. It’s inside, though, where it gets really special…
The demo model came with the Lounge Seating Configuration meaning you get a normal 3-seat bench that has a 60/40 split when folded (using a selection of electronically controlled configurations, obviously) and there are two fold-out screens and picnic tables in the backs of the front seats and also a fold out armrest in the middle. A handy little touch that has been added to accompany the electronic folding seats is a raising boot floor that automatically meets the height of the fully folded seats to ensure there is nothing in the way when you’re loading in your weekend DIY shopping (or, you know, skis and shotguns…). There is also an “Immersive Seating” option for the rear that is strictly a 2 seated affair. This option is similar to the seat set up in the Phantom VIII with the fixed armrest where all your comfort and infotainment controls sit and then behind you there is a glass partition keeping you completely separate from the luggage compartment of the car. This is designed to keep the occupants comfortable and at their desired temperature at all times, even when the boot is open. Rolls Royce have definitely solved a problem you didn’t even know existed there…
Interior finishes come with 9 standard leather options and a further 12 Commissioned Collection colours and 2 standard veneers (Open Pore Circassian Walnut & Open Pore Blackwood) with a further 6 Commissioned Collection veneers. There is also a wide variety of stitching and embossing options throughout the cabin along with contrast stitching and piping options and even different clock finishes. Like all Rolls Royces, these are truly customisable vehicles where the limit is only your imagination – as Rolls Royce themselves say, you don’t purchase a Rolls Royce, you commission it.
As for the drivetrain and general “techy” stuff, the 5.3m SUV has a twin-turbocharged 6 and 3/4 V12 under its neverending bonnet that produces a potent but well-muted 563bhp and 627lb-ft of torque which is delivered to all 4 wheels for the very first time in the brand’s history. It has a permanent all-wheel-drive system, all-wheel steer and a brand new aluminium space-frame which all packaged up claims to create the most technologically advanced and only purpose-built luxury SUV in the world.
As far as capability goes, we will need to wait on see, but on the build-up to its release, the Cullinan was put through its paces in just every scenario possible across the globe from the deserts of the Middle East to the Arctic Circle and Scottish Highlands which you can now follow on the Rolls Royce website HERE. Either way, at a starting price just over £250,000 you’re probably not going to see one scrambling up muddy hills alongside Discoverys and Defenders – you are more likely going to see them cruising the streets at night in the UAE and parked up in Knightsbridge in the summer.
It may not be to everyone’s tastes, and the styling may be a tad controversial but like the Bentley Bentayga, I can see both the point and the appeal even if I wouldn’t have one myself (chance would be a fine thing!) The Cullinan is that one step further into exclusivity that the super-rich and famous long for. If you are one of the few very fortunate people who can afford one, orders are starting to be processed later this summer with the first public deliveries due to take place towards the end of 2018/early 2019 and P&A Wood are already looking at taking orders.
Thank you again to P&A Wood for inviting me along to their event with the Cullinan and for letting me nosey around the workshop again – if you’re ever in the area you really should pop in and have a look at some of the wonderful work they are doing to keep historic Rolls Royces and Bentleys on the road as well as the new cars they sell in their beautiful showrooms.