No doubt many never thought they’d see the day when Rolls-Royce produced a 4x4. Yet think again… why not? Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati, Jaguar, and even Bentley have all quite recently gone down that road (the Porsche Cayenne turned out to be the brand’s bestselling model). Now Rolls-Royce have taken the plunge.
And it is called…
…the Cullinan. Named after the famous Cullinan Diamond, the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered. From the outside it hardly looks awe-inspiring. But we’ve driven it, sampled it, indulged in the Rolls-Royce experience… and left feeling pretty gobsmacked.
The dream starts here…
Open the door (any door) of the Cullinan and you step into a magical and very expensive world of luxury, quality, taste, craftsmanship and acquired know-how. Simply put, the quality is second to none of literally any car in the world. It is powered by a twin-turbo charged 6.75 litre V12, produces 850Nm of torque at only 1,600rpm and 563bhp. It is of course, permanent all-wheel drive, and transmits all these goodies through an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Wince at 18mpg, but that’s hardly relevant to the Rolls customer. The Rolls cliché for the car is ‘effortless everywhere’. They undertook a mammoth journey of 12,000 miles of the world’s toughest terrain over three continents to showcase this theme. You can now go off-roading genuine First Class.
Picture this. Open the rear door and climb into the most sumptuous seats, the finest leather and finest wood. It is unbelievably comfortable and spacious back there. Its makers are correct to claim that ‘innovative features enhance every journey’; press a button under the mid-rear seating area and a beautiful tray with recessed mat settings for your crystal champagne glasses emerges. There’s a choice of two bars – one holds your sherry decanter and crystal cut glasses, the other your chilled (yes, chilled) champagne flutes. There’s little chance of your glasses spilling champagne on the pile carpet for you simply tuck the base of the glass under a lip on the tray for absolute stability, then it’s down to the chauffeur.
When you leave the car and it’s raining, you simply press another button to release the Rolls-Royce embossed umbrella. When you return the umbrella wet to its housing, an internal heater dries it so it is ready for use again without dripping on either you or the plush interior of your Rolls.
You may of course, choose to work whilst you sip your champagne – hence, all the connectivity you need is housed in a binnacle integrated with the rear seating tray. You could be in your most luxurious lounge ever, but this one just so happens to be on four wheels and moving.
On the move…
And the moving it does graciously well, we found. It takes just the press of one button to prepare for off-road driving – its competence we were unable to test from our brief road drive, but it will be interesting to see if the Cullinan can hit the benchmark of the most accomplished off-roaders (this will no doubt become apparent in future independent comparative tests). Once behind the wheel we could equally have been driving a Phantom, Ghost or Wraith, the quality experience is the same. The potency and smoothness of the engine is intoxicating, the engineering sublime, the refinement as precision-like as the world’s ultimate timepiece. It’s as quiet, smooth and calming to the mind as aromatherapy – yet the driver feel is there, and you will enjoy an intuitive relationship with the surefooted, predictable and safe handling. There’s none of this woolly steering you tend to get from big luxury cars, but fine progressive weighting making piloting this one a doddle as well as a pleasure.