Rolls-Royce Cullinan: An SUV for 1 Percent of the 1 Percent

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Those in the market for a brand new Roller are not apt to inquire about trivialities such as price or fuel economy. That’s why I highly doubt news of oil reaching its highest price in 3.5 years will give any Cullinan prospect a moment’s pause before they sign on the dotted line with a solid-gold Montblanc pen.

Rolls-Royce refuses to describe the Cullinan as an SUV. In every reference, it’s called an “all-terrain high-bodied car.” Company marketers were surely sequestered in a windowless conference room for ages before they settled on that term.

Company propaganda takes great care to point out that the new Cullinan is the only purpose-built, luxury SUV in the world. This is great news, because every time I climb into a Q7 or a Ranger Rover, I think, “Oh, dear. I’ve accidentally gotten into the housekeeper’s Kia again.”

The 1 percent will not be left wanting for power from their Cullinan. A 6.75-liter (sorry – six and three-quarters litre) twin-turbo V12 delivers 563 brake horsepower and 627 lb-ft of the finest British torque at just 1,600 rpm. That’s more than enough to upset the china tea set balanced on the Cullinan’s leather seats.

Of course, the Cullinan is all-wheel drive and is said to have been “tested to destruction” all over the planet. Air suspension should provide different ride heights for tiptoeing over the proletariat, while hill-descent control will help drivers slither down grassy British embankments during a fox hunt. Rolls Royce calls it a “Magic Carpet Ride.” Steppenwolf would like to have a word.

It is also described as having an all-wheel steer system. Details on that system are light (Rolls owners probably consider talking about the suspension to be a needlessly agricultural conversation) but the steering is alternately described as all-wheel and four-wheel in operation. I wouldn’t put it past Rolls-Royce to have included this feature simply in deference to the tight radius of the small roundabout outside the Savoy Hotel, a location that’s long prompted the builders of London’s famous black cabs to imbue the cars with their notoriously compact turning circle.

Standing 72.3 inches (a contemporary Range Rover is 73.6 inches), Cullinan rides on 22-inch wheels and features typical Roller styling cues such as a chrome grille doing its best impression of the white cliffs of Dover. The RR badge and Spirit of Ecstasy ornament stand higher than the fenders, ready to skewer any peasants who dare set foot in front of it.

Tired after a long day at the castle? The world’s oligarchs will be pleased to learn just about every interior surface of the Cullinan is heated, including all inboard armrests and outboard armrests. Even the lower C-Pillar is heated, should one find themselves leaning against that part of the interior while counting their money.

Naturally, Rolls is quick to point out its Bespoke Program, in which the company touts the Cullinan’s “Recreation Module.” As an example (and I am not making this up), Rolls-Royce provides this passage:

Imagine the scene. Having chosen your adventure you call down to your garage. “Jason, we’re going to go drone racing today. Can you load the Drone Module into the Cullinan?” Downstairs, Jason selects the Drone Racing Module from the rack containing several other Recreation Modules that the owner has had commissioned from Rolls-Royce to satisfy his or her preferred recreational pursuits.

The day I’m rich enough to summon an employee to prepare my Rolls-Royce for a day of drone racing, I can assure you that person’s name will not be Jason. It will be Spartacus or something equally outrageous. The company then goes on to suggest other mundane everyday activities beyond drone racing such as base jumping and volcano boarding.

This is not wholly new territory for the extended brand family. The Sultan of Brunei commissioned a Bentley SUV back in 1996, ordering half a dozen examples and calling them the Dominator, which I submit as the greatest vehicle name of all time except for the Isuzu Light Dump. Bentley now hawks the googly-eyed Bentayga, of course.

In a revealing interview with the UK mag Autocar, brand boss Torsten Müller-Otvos mentions the Cullinan was designed with electrification in mind, meaning we’ll likely see a hybrid version sometime in the future. Finding appropriate electrical outlets will be added to Jason’s list of tasks, then. Müller-Otvos also took special care to point out the Cullinan’s unique architecture, no doubt in a bid to fend off any thought that this machine shares its toys with BMW.

Price? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

[Images: Rolls-Royce]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Ermel Ermel on May 12, 2018

    Look Bentley: This is how to design a hyper luxury SUV correctly. No stupid fender bulges with a doorhandle in them. Well done RR!

  • Craiger Craiger on Oct 30, 2018

    "Jason selects the Drone Racing Module from the rack containing several other Recreation Modules that the owner has had commissioned from Rolls-Royce to satisfy his or her preferred recreational pursuits." And I thought that glove compartment door in that '77 Cutlass that I could do coke off of was as good as it gets.

  • Fahrvergnugen Any rollback would be inevitable if Agent Orange were elected anyhow.Next stop would be coal-powered ICE. Good clean American coal. Nice coal. The BEST coal.👿🐂💩
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh 10,000% the fault of deregulation, shareholders and trump.... good job luddites. *fear* progress and don't invest in any infrastructure and just keep taking profits.
  • Paul Pity. I think there's a market for these now that half ton pickups are so immense. A few more fumbles and GM could miss out.
  • Kcflyer So I get to continue to subsidize my neighbors new EV's. Bonus, I get to pay for they kids Gender Studies Diplomas.
  • Wolfwagen The Alpha Numeric model system used to be good and had some consistency either to the size of the vehicle or engine. Now its just gobbly gook that doesn't make any sense. Lincoln was the worst since all their vehicles looked the same and all started with MK.