RE: Rolls-Royce Cullinan: Driven

RE: Rolls-Royce Cullinan: Driven

Tuesday 16th October

Rolls-Royce Cullinan: Driven

The Cullinan shows how expensive an SUV can be. It must also set a new precedent for luxury. Does it?



If Rolls-Royce is in the luxury business, rather than the car business, as it sometimes contests: why an SUV? Isn't it a bit trendy and emerging-segment-ey? Isn't there a whiff of the spreadsheet about it?

Perhaps, but there are also customers saying they rather like their Rolls-Royce, but would like to use it more often, thanks very much. Y'know, take the family out in it, go skiing in it, go shooting in it. Actually use it daily. What is the point, after all, of having cake if you can't eat it?

So here we are. The new Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the first Rolls-Royce SUV, its first car with four-wheel drive, if not the first Rolls to be used regularly off-road. It's an unusual-looking vehicle/striking/a munter, depending on your outlook. Me? I think it feels like some Rolls cues have been grafted onto a body style that doesn't necessarily need them, but that the same didn't harm the first-gen Porsche Cayenne or this car's closest rival, the equally unapologetic Bentley Bentayga.


The Cullinan is based on the bespoke-to-Rolls aluminium architecture which made its debut with the Phantom last year. Eventually all Rolls-Royces will be built on this platform. It's cheaper than a Phantom, at 'from' £250,000, but a typical spend is more like £325,000. The Cullinan lifts the lid on how expensive a 4x4 can be.

It has a 6.75-litre V12 petrol engine, twice turbocharged, driving those 22-inch wheels via an eight speed automatic gearbox. There's air suspension all round, double wishbone at the front and multi-link at the rear, with beefed-up uprights to cope with greater forces and with less friction than a Phantom which, at 5.3m long, this is shorter than. Engineers don't like it too much if you mention xDrive (BMW being Rolls' parent company) but the four-wheel drive system is a derivative thereof, also upgraded to cope with the forces created by the car's considerable torque and weight - 627lb ft from 1,600rpm and, ahem, 2,735kg at the kerb.

The four-wheel drive principle is fundamentally the same, though, so the Cullinan mooches around in predominantly rear-drive fashion most of the time, able to put 100 per cent of its torque to the rear wheels for ultimate efficiency and balance, enabling it to return as much as 18.8mpg - I know! Swoon! But up to 50 per cent of torque can be diverted to the front wheels.


Neither the front nor rear differentials lock, but there is torque vectoring via braking to stop a spinning wheel, while the body, which runs on air suspension as standard, raises 40mm if a one-touch 'off road' button is pushed. You can't choose gears yourself but, in 'off-road' mode, if you push a 'low' button on the gear selector, the car will try to retain second as much as possible. And there's no low range transfer case, but I mentioned the 627lb ft from 1,600rpm, right?

These things reflect what the Cullinan can do off-road - apart, presumably, from sink into soft mud owing to that two-and-three-quarter-tonne-before-options thing. We're assured it's very happy on sand dunes. But anyway, while owners will, relatively routinely, take their Cullinans off-road, where it needs to be happiest is on it.

To that end it gets a suitably opulent interior, seemingly well constructed from spot-on materials. You'd want to prod it and a Bentley Bentayga together to decide which is the better but I think it's the Cullinan, and by a mile over a Range Rover SVAutobiography.


There's 100kg of sound proofing within the body, the wheels are 21s or 22s, tyres have foam inserts to reduce their noise. The BMW-derived i-Drive infotainment is first rate, ergonomics are sound and the view out is imperious-plus. The lowish window line means visibility is very good, despite the length and a two metre width, which gives the Cullinan a similar footprint to most double-cab pickup trucks.

It can seat four or five, depending on the rear seat you spec. With two individual rear chairs there's a glass partition between passenger cell and boot space, to increase refinement. With the three-person bench seat, which splits and folds, the Cullinan is a bona fide 560-litre plus estate car - albeit the folded rear seats don't create a flat load floor.

Refinement levels are to Rolls-Royce standards. The V12 idles with that 'is it on?' smoothness and hush, step-off is smooth and the throttle pedal long. The steering has a trademark Rolls-Royce lightness and consistency, and the Cullinan rides as well as it ought to. The run-flat Continental rubber our test car ran on would not necessarily be your first choice of specification if somebody asked you to invent the perfect-riding car, but still the Cullinan rode supremely. No other SUV - certainly not a Bentley, not a Mercedes and, I'm pretty confident, not a Range Rover, rides so smoothly, and definitely not as quietly. It feels, to me, every inch as Rollsy as a Ghost, albeit with more lean.


As a result, then, it's not as dynamically adept as, say, the Bentley, but I suspect most owners will be fine with that. There are active anti-roll bars but they feel like they work less hard than some of the snazzier, beefier, systems on rivals, allowing a considerable amount of roll here. The steering's always precise, though, and with active rear steer the Cullinan is more rewarding and, maybe, even a touch more agile, than a car with quite such an absurd kerb weight ought to be.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it's very capable in a straight line. Performance figures are fine - with 571hp and that 627lb ft it'd be bonkers if they weren't - and the Cullinan feels about as quick as its 5.0 second to 60mph time suggests. I'm not sure you'd want it to go any faster. But stability is terrific, and with that ride, and the hush, and a mega sound system, and a 90-litre fuel tank, few cars are more relaxing, so long as you've got space around you. If you were asked to pick a current production car in which to drive you and your family several hundred miles to your holiday home, the Cullinan would be right up there.

The concept might be a hard one to like. The appearance and the kerbweight could be difficult to get your head around. But the execution? There aren't too many holes to pick in that.


SPECIFICATION - ROLLS-ROYCE CULLINAN

Engine: 6,749cc V12 twin-turbo petrol
Power(hp): 571@5,000rpm
Torque(lb ft): 627@1,600rpm
0-60mph: 5.0sec (5.2 to 62mph)
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 2,735kg
MPG: 18.8
CO2: 341g/km
Price: From £250,000








Author
Discussion

housen

Original Poster:

1,375 posts

127 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
no

Gameface

5,358 posts

12 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
This is going to be a typically predictable PH thread.

Cupramax

7,496 posts

187 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
2.8 tons? With all the technology of light weight materials, in this day and age rofl

Dinoboy

1,440 posts

152 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
I don't care if it can do a vertical take off and fly to New York in 2 hours, just look at it hurl

WCZ

5,896 posts

129 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
no thanks, absolutely disgusting and makes no sense.
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juice

5,061 posts

217 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
This would look ace with a snorkle hehe

David87

4,998 posts

147 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
Why would you buy this over the Phantom? Other than being too poor, obviously. hehe

berlintaxi

7,453 posts

108 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
It's no looker.

indapendentlee

247 posts

34 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
Suspect I'll be in the minority but I quite like it. It's miles better to look at than the Bentley. You sit so high up that not only will you not feel the peasants you're running over, you won't even need to see them hit the bonnet.

Rider007

43 posts

29 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
I saw one in the flesh a few weeks ago near Chichester strangely. Absolutely hideous. Why anyone would splash out £250k plus options on that monstrosity is mind boggling.

Cupramax

7,496 posts

187 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
Rider007 said:
I saw one in the flesh a few weeks ago near Chichester strangely. Absolutely hideous. Why anyone would splash out £250k plus options on that monstrosity is mind boggling.
Strange apart from their factory is a few miles away.

Thornaby

101 posts

4 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
It looks like its been drawn as a snooty character in a kids cartoon or film. Like Thomas or Cars

Fury1630

385 posts

162 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
It's all very well saying you'd choose it to drive your family on holiday, but with a few options & loaded with sprogs & family holiday gear this could be above the weight you're allowed to drive on a standard licence?

madness.

J4CKO

25,499 posts

135 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
I quite like it, not sure I would even if I could but its a proper Rolls Royce, they used to do stuff in a similar vein back in the 1930s (Big tourers that got used off road) and its got plenty of gravitas, it doesnt scream niche or bandwagon.

I bet it makes total sense for a lot of buyers who would otherwise have to slum it in a Bentley, or even a Range Rover, I mean if you cant take a Phantom as it will just get stuck, you take your Cullinan.

FWDRacer

3,532 posts

159 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
Mindless, tasteless idiots need only apply.

Macboy

345 posts

140 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
I have no objection at all to the concept and business rationale but almost all of the pictures look like they have been stretched in that weird way when they're reformatted because the basics of the design are just wrong to my eye.

Tom_Spotley_When

155 posts

92 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
Reading the replies to this is my afternoon's entertainment sorted.

I'm tempted to start a game of PH Bingo:

One argument about how a lack of live axles and low range gearbox means it isn't a Proper Off-Roader.

One argument about why anyone needs an SUV and shouldn't RR make an estate instead

One argument about the four wheel drive system and how Winter Tyres on a BMW 535d are all you ever really need, you know.

One argument about how "the locals" in the alps all drive round in Fiat Panda 4x4's and how all the crashes occur when british drivers in German cars don't understand mass transfer so there is no reason what-so-ever to buy a big 4x4 for your one week skiing a year

One argument about how it isn't a "Proper" Rolls Royce

One argument about how it's the New BMW x7 underneath, you know

One argument about how all drivers of this ever do is drop their kids (or brats) off at the local private school, parking inconsiderately and how it's only been bought on finance to impress other school run mums

And one argument about how anyone who spends £300k on this should buy a fleet of caterhams (for the handling balance) and a Honda Jazz (It's the most practical and reliable car ever and no-one needs anything else, unless you're a show-off or don't properly understand rural living)

Any others to add?

coffee

J4CKO

25,499 posts

135 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
FWDRacer said:
Mindless, tasteless idiots need only apply.
Taste is subjective I guess and I would feel a bit of a pillock driving it in my normal day to day life, but I am guessing the "idiots" that have 250k plus to spend on one have a different lifestyle than me.

I cant imagine the buyers of this have just one car, or that quarter of a million pounds is raised by selling their 3 bed semi and trading in a 2007 Focus, it will be just another car, possibly one each at their properties around the world, they will probably use it for specific duties, take a Bugatti on a sunny day or a Phantom if they are going into a city.

Its just a different world that I dont understand other than its not top of my next car list.


Quhet

1,768 posts

81 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
I'd love to have a go in one but would never buy one if I had the money to. A nice dark green FFRR is far more classy, much cheaper and wouldn't be too much 'worse'.

Gorbyrev

1,020 posts

89 months

Tuesday 16th October
quotequote all
Gameface said:
This is going to be a typically predictable PH thread.
Indeed.

To the tune of "God Save the Queen" [music]

Munt, munt munt, munty-munt,
Munt, munt munt, munty-munt,
Munt, munt, munt, munt, ta-da-da-da,
Munt, munt munt, munty-munt,
Munt, munt munt, munty-munt,
Munt, munty-munt-munt, munty-munt,
Mu-nt, munt, munt, munt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-pzol0sxro
The offroad abilities of the Phantom are underappreciated!

Edited by Gorbyrev on Tuesday 16th October 12:28