Rolls Royce Cullinan
Fashion versus tradition
The Cullinnan is the biggest diamond in the British crown jewels. That seemed to Rolls-Royce a fitting name for its first SUV. After all, this luxury off-road vehicle is significantly taller and therefore larger than a traditional Rolls-Royce. Despite its new appearance, the Cullinan is instantly recognisable as a Rolls-Royce by its long v-shaped bonnet, slightly sloping roofline, distinguished nose and understated lines.
A characteristic of Rolls-Royce is that every part of the car can be customised to the customer's wishes. In addition, "Inspired by Fashion"-editions of all models are built periodically. The edition shown here is the "Re Belle" ("rebel") and that name comes from its striking colour. Thanks to the previously mentioned understated lines, the Cullinan's dignity remains even in this colour.
The refreshing colour scheme is also reflected in the interior. Still every square inch is lined with the best materials Rolls-Royce can find, but this time in light grey and the same fluorescent green as the paint. With this, Rolls-Royce's usual gentlemen's club on wheels has been transformed into a trendy lounge!
Because relaxing is certainly possible in the Cullinan! But that goes far beyond plenty of space in the front and rear, because that speaks for itself in a car 534 cm long with a wheelbase of 330 cm. Optionally, three seats can be found in the rear or two seats with a minibar in between. The test car was fitted with the "viewing suite": two seats that slide out of the boot, electrically of course, to form a seat behind the car to enjoy the scenery. We tried it and, once the car is positioned at the right angle, it sits wonderfully!
And that's what makes a Rolls-Royce so special: the attention to detail. The test car's ceiling, for instance, is actually a sky with countless stars formed by LED lights. Even the filler cap and key are works of art in themselves! As usual with Rolls-Royce, the metal of the various knobs and sliders feels so fine that there is a certain satisfaction in using them (or just playing with them when you don't really need to!).
The Cullinan was introduced in 2018. Despite this, the equipment is not perceived as outdated in 2023. The Cullinan has all the active and passive safety features available in circulation. Moreover, night vision camera, wifi hotspot and cameras all around are also part of the equipment.
Only the infotainment system seems outdated at first glance. The display is unusually small, the menu design is downright conservative and some functions are slow to respond. Despite this, the functionality leaves little to be desired. Should it do, support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available. The audio system has a tight, clear, powerful sound. The speakers only read "Bespoke audio" and the manufacturer does not reveal who the supplier of this ear-pleasing system is. Judging by the sound, Autozine suspects Naim.
For the first few miles, the Cullinan is a downright intimidating car. The bonnet is so big and long that those of other large SUVs seem like postage stamps. Added to this, the large steering wheel, big seats and delayed response to all commands make everything about the Cullinan seem extra-extra-large.
But gradually, the Cullinan reveals its true nature. It is all about tranquillity and comfort, and Rolls-Royce does everything it can to maximise its distance to the outside world. The Cullinan is not slow to react, but tries to soften and ease everything! While other large SUVs make the driver feel mighty, the Cullinan emphasises grandeur. And that, in turn, ensures that the Cullinan offers extraordinary comfort. Cars in the premium segment generally provide such peace of mind that occupants' heart rates drop, but the Cullinan goes even further in this.
Should one drive in a sporty fashion anyway, the bodywork reacts reluctantly at first, braces itself and roadholding is indeed good. Something similar applies to an emergency stop: after a brief hesitation, the brakes are strong and effective. Despite the steering rear wheels, the turning circle is huge.
Another hallmark of Rolls-Royce: always opting for the best of the best. That is why the Cullinan is powered by a 6.7-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine. Its ample power (571 hp / 850 Nm) is not used to set crushing sprints, but to perform with great ease.
During acceleration, a rumbling sound, similar to thunderstorms at long range, can be heard in the distance. At constant speed, the engine, tyres and driving wind are virtually inaudible. Only when the wind comes exactly from the wrong direction can a slight rustling noise sometimes be heard near the wing mirror. Only at full throttle does the V12 make itself heard and then this giant is surprisingly sprightly. Those in a hurry are in no way disappointed, but this car is meant for relaxed touring.
Despite its enormous power, the engine is still the Cullinan's weakest point. In fact, the Cullinan has CO2 emissions of 341 grams per kilometre and test consumption came to 20 litres per 100 km despite a mostly sedate driving style. However, by much simpler means, the average electric car offers the same smoothness and performs with the same ease.
Sports Utility Vehicle
With the supremacy of the engine, the ultimate comfort of the suspension and the attention to detail, the Cullinan is a true Rolls-Royce. But that doesn't make it an SUV! That's why air suspension can be used to temporarily increase ground clearance. The electronics can actively control the four-wheel drive to maintain grip in any type of terrain. In doing so, the air suspension can push individual wheels down when they are in danger of losing grip.
In addition: even off-road, the Cullinan is a true Rolls-Royce. True, it is noticeable that the mechanics are working hard, but dignity is always maintained.
Does the Rolls-Royce Cullinan combine fashion and tradition? Yes! Rolls-Royce's first SUV lives up to the brand's commitment to perfection, attention to detail and dignity. As compared to the brand's traditional sedans, the Cullinan's high seating gives an even grander feel.
That high seat, along with the extra space and off-road capability, also makes the Cullinan a true off-road vehicle. Rolls-Royce puts its own spin on that by offering even more peace and comfort compared to other large and luxurious SUVs, even off-road.
However, when looking at the price, the Cullinan is certainly not four or five times better. Part of the price is in the name and customisation. And that leaves the fashion component. The level of sophistication makes it clear that the Cullinan is much more than a mass-produced car and that makes one feel privileged. Finally, the "Inspired by Fashion Re-Belle" combines Rolls-Royce's traditional values with a bold, fashionable slant.
- Ultimate comfort
- Genuinely suitable for off-road driving
- Infinite customisation possibilities and attention to detail
- V12 is outdated technology
- Small screen infotainment system
- Rear doors opening against the direction of travel less useful due to presence of B-pillar