ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS LUXURY CAR MAKERS IN THE WORLD OFFERS ITS FIRST EVER SUV
BY EVAN MONROE
The Cullinan is named after the largest gem quality rough diamond ever discovered, which weighed 3,106.75 carats and from which was produced the Great Star of Africa (530.4 carats), one of the British Crown Jewels.
Through gas crunches, recessions, the rise of millennial buyer frugality, and a host of other market vicissitudes, the SUV sales sector has been a relative rock of dependability. The 107 SUV and crossover models on sale domestically constituted 42% of all vehicle sales last year, from 39.5% in 2016. is dynamic has been contrasted with a decline in sedan sales in all categories, a more than year long trend punctuated in May when sedan heavy Nissan announced a stunning 28% drop in April sales. In response, Ford has announced the discontinuation of Fusion, Taurus, and Fiesta models within a few years, while GM plans to scale back production of the Cruze, and its Impala and Sonic sedans are also likely in the crosshairs. In a November Los Angeles Times article, Kelley Blue Book Senior Analyst Karl Brauer bluntly stated that “basically, everything in the sedan category is an endangered species.”
Yet, from what is generally considered the first SUV (Willys’s Jeep Station Wagon, first made in 1946) until last year, Rolls Royce has resisted this sector’s growing power.
Key to the new model’s creation was the Rolls branded Architecture of Luxury: a proprietary all aluminum chassis that is lighter, stiffer, quieter, and more technologically advanced.
Wading depth is a remarkable 22.1 inches, the deepest of any super luxury SUV, and an indicator that the Cullinan is indeed meant for off roading.
The suspension makes millions of calculations every second as it varies the electronically controlled shock absorbers reacting to body and wheel acceleration, steering inputs, camera information, and other parameters.
One of the most anticipated models in the UK maker’s 114 year history, the Cullinan, unveiled in May, is company described as an “all terrain, high bodied vehicle that makes the idea of authentic, luxury off road travel a reality for the first time.” Named after the largest diamond ever discovered, it was designed in a “three box” layout, with a rear partition wall that creates a distinct environment for passengers, one that’s also separated from the luggage compartment.
The second new Rolls to sit on the all new aluminium “Architecture of Luxury” chassis platform, the 5,864 pound Cullinan packs a 6.75 liter twin turbo V12 engine that delivers 563 horsepower and a stunning 627 lb. ft. of torque to an all wheel drive, all wheel steer system, producing a top speed of 155 miles per hour and a zero to 60 time of 6.7 seconds.
“We knew we had to offer our clients what they couldn’t find in the SUV market,” said Rolls Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Müller Ötvös, “…luxury in its purest form, blended with perfect practicality and off road capability.”
Aimed at younger and more adventurous customers, the all new design is visually marked in another first for Rolls Royce by a tailgate. Dubbed “The Clasp,” it’s a nod to an era when luggage was mounted on the exterior of a car, and opens and closes in two sections automatically at the touch of a key fob button.
The interior’s upper fascia is clad in a newly developed contemporary “Box Grain” leather a durable and water resistant boarded leather similar to that used in high end Italian luggage and handbags.
Rolls Royce Design Chief Giles Taylor detailed hat bodywork required five years to develop with a mandate to “go big” with styling. “We didn’t want to be shy; we wanted a functional aesthetic look with no apology,” he said.
Heated areas in the interior now include front door armrests, front center console lid, lower C pillar, rear side armrests, and rear center armrest.
The rear passenger compartment offers either Lounge or Individual Seat formats; the first, with space for three passengers in the rear, will be more attractive for families (its seats also fold down, another Rolls first). The latter’s seats, adjustable in a number of vectors, are separated by a center console incorporating a cocktail cabinet with whiskey glasses, decanter, champagne flutes, and refrigerator. Whichever the layout, rear occupants sit higher than those in the front in “Pavilion Seating” style. Rolls Royce’s patented Magic Carpet Ride is tweaked for the Cullinan in its self levelling air suspension (including larger air struts with more volume), stronger drive shafts, and a complete rework of the V12 engine to deliver the right level of torque at the lowest possible revolutions. The driver can also finesse off road settings for rough track, gravel, wet grass, mud, snow, or sand.
“What’s unique is the ability to absorb the road without thought and simply let yourself get lost,” said Cory Richards, National Geographic photographer and star of The Final Challenge, a TV series in which he journeys the Cullinan from the Highlands of Scotland to deserts of the Middle East to the toughest terrains in the United States. “You don’t so much drive as you float, and it seems to get smoother the faster you go. The turning and the grip are unreal…almost hugging the road while seeming to glide above it.”
Thanks to the wide aperture of the doors and completely flat floor, entries and exits are a snap, and interior and exterior touch sensors close doors automatically. An experienced Rolls driver will be struck by a comparatively thicker, smaller steering wheel, though heated and ventilated seats are wonder fully familiar, as is the latest generation of instruments, with clear virtual needles and jewelry like chaplets. The central information screen is, for the first time, touch sensitive, allowing one to quickly select functions, map views, and vehicle set up. These systems can also be controlled from the Spirit of Ecstasy controller nestled on the central console.
Additional tech equipment includes: night vision and vision assist (including day and nighttime wildlife and pedestrian warnings); an Alertness Assistant; a four camera system with panoramic view, all round visibility and helicopter view; active cruise control; collision warning; cross traffic warning, lane departure and lane change alerts; a high resolution heads up display, WiFi hotspot; and navigation and entertainment systems.
Paul Miller Rolls Royce
250 U.S. 46 West, Parsippany / 855.637.9339 / paulmillerrollsroyce.com