If you wanted go anywhere performance in the past, your only real option was a Land Rover of some description, or a Jeep. SUV’s just weren’t popular in Europe 20 years ago. A lot has changed in recent times, with Bentley producing the Bentayga and Lamborghini, the Urus, Rolls-Royce were sure to respond with an SUV of their own. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan has arrived!

Fresh off the back of the recently updated Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Cullinan is perhaps the most anticipated new Rolls-Royce ever! Rolls-Royce had an early history of go-everywhere ability which began during the period of the Maharajahs and Maharanis of India and was cemented with armoured models during World War I.

It is the second Rolls-Royce to sit on the company’s new aluminium architecture. The so-called ‘Architecture of Luxury’, it features a spaceframe architecture which is completely unique to Rolls-Royce and will soon underpin its entire range.

In terms of design, there is nothing unexpected for us. It is boxy, Rolls-Royce admit this, calling the design, the first “three-box” car in the SUV sector. By this, Rolls-Royce mean that the driver and passenger sit separately using a partition wall. The third partition divides the passenger from the luggage. The grille is hand-polished stainless steel incorporating the Rolls-Royce badge and Spirit of Ecstasy. The Cullinan also gets a tailgate. The first in Rolls-Royce history.

Under the hood sits a 6.75 litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine with 563 bhp and 850 Nm of torque. The massive powertrain is linked to a ZF 8-Speed gearbox. The whole package manages a limited 155 mph / 250 km/h top speed.

Rolls-Royce have developed a bespoke all-wheel drive system and incorporated an all-wheel steer. A key feature of the Cullinan ride is called the ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ which Rolls-Royce takes off-road for the first time. It comprises a new double-wishbone front axle and 5-link rear axle system with Rolls-Royce’s latest self-levelling air suspension and electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system. The Cullinan also uses a stereo camera system to adapt the suspension up to 100 km/h.

Inside, the cabin is familiar Rolls-Royce. The centre stack is framed by metal pillars that bridge the upper fascia and middle console. The upper fascia gets a newly developed ‘Box Grain’ black leather. The instrument cluster is digital with virtual needles. They react to provide information the driver might need. For the first time, Rolls-Royce have made the central display touch sensitive. It can be used to control the Spirit of Ecstasy, the Air Suspension or the Hill Descent Control.

The Cullinan also gets all the safety functions you would expect; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view; Night Vision and Vision Assist including daytime and night-time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Active Cruise Control; Collision Warning; Cross-Traffic Warning, Lane Departure and Lane Change Warning; an industry leading 7×3 High-Resolution Head-Up Display, WiFi hotspot, and of course the latest Navigation and Entertainment Systems.

A unique design feature only a Rolls-Royce designer might consider is the front and rear coach doors which wrap low under the sill of Cullinan, ensuring that all dirt remains of the outside of the door, and not the sill itself. Even the key is entirely bespoke. Opening the door automatically lowers the Cullinan by 40 mm.

One of the more eccentric options is the Cullinan Viewing Suite. Two rear-facing seats with a cocktail table. Two rear seating configurations are on offer – Lounge Seats or Individual Seats. The Lounge Seat consists of a rear bench seat, while Individual Seats include two seats separated by a Fixed Rear Centre Console incorporating a drinks cabinet.

What’s in the figures? With a 540 mm wading depth, the Cullinan doesn’t quite match the Range Rover’s 900 mm but trumps the Bentayga’s 500 mm. The Cullinan stands 1,836 mm high, taller than the Bentayga (1,742 mm) but slightly short of a Range Rover (1,869 mm). A long wheelbase Range Rover sits 5,199 mm, the Cullinan is longer at 5341 mm in length. It weighs 2660 kg.

There is no word on price at the moment or availability. Expect that to follow in the next few months. Don’t expect the Cullinan to be subject to any real competition though. It will be the reserve of royalty and landed gentry.

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