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Car ReviewMeet The New Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Words by Steve Chalmers

The new Rolls-Royce Cullinan takes the dirt trails, mountain tracks and ski slopes of Wyoming all in its stride as we take her out for a test spin.

I’m half way up Jackson Hole’s ‘Town Hill’ in a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Town Hill is the nickname given to the double black diamond ski run that has the terrifying legend of being the steepest slope in North America. And this AED 1.2m SUV is going up it with ease.

Computer programs in the Rolls-Royce Cullinan are keeping us climbing slowly but surely up the 500-metre incline. As we reach the summit I get out and run my still shaking hands over the bodywork and interior of the Cullinan.

Many of today’s large SUVs are rounded, but the designers at Goodwood have gone for a more regal and visually impacting three-box design, in the same vein as the iconic Silver Spirit. A Phantom-like front, with its towering grille topped with the Spirit of Ecstasy leaves you in no doubt as to what you’re looking at, with the grille surrounds flowing up and over the bonnet creating a distinctive bulge.

But the SUV’s finest exterior detail is its rump. Sloping down from the roof, the sharply raked hatch lines end in a classic notch, very similar to that of the 1949 Silver Wraith. It’s a tiny detail, but adds a sophisticated feel, especially as its flanked by the glowing tail lamps, which are similar to the Phantom’s and feature the RR logo in the indicator fingers.

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Huge amounts of glass dominate its flanks and add to the ‘high bodied car’ feel with the Phantomesque suicide doors opening up to reveal the Rolls’ diamond: its interior.

Having spent two days at the wheel of the Cullinan, its comfort cannot be faulted. In the back there are two seating options: the traditional Lounge Seat, or the business jet-like Individual Seat. A veneer-trimmed centre console cocoons the two rear occupants in a leather-trimmed office. It’s most definitely a formal ambience and as I stretch my legs out (acres of room in here) it feels like how a Rolls-Royce SUV should feel and gives you a sense of occasion.

However, that isn’t the end of the Cullinan’s seating arrangement options. At the touch of a button, the Viewing Suite extends out of the boot floor, which features two pop-up seats and a table. And then there’s the Recreation Module, which is a rack designed specifically for various pastimes, from fishing to kiteboarding.

During its development, the Cullinan covered many kilometres of testing in sand dunes so it comes as no surprise to find it is supremely capable off-road. The 6.75 litre twin-turbo V12 is at the heart of the Cullinan’s performance. This colossal power, combined with the lighter architecture and the latest self-levelling air suspension means the Cullinan will take owners to places no modern Rolls-Royce owner has travelled in luxury before.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

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Rolls-Royce At the touch of a button, the Viewing Suite extends out of the boot floor, which features two pop-up seats and a table.

Specs

Engine

6.75 litre, V12, twin turb

Power

563bhp @ 5,000rpm

Torque

850Nm at 1600 rpm

Transmission

8-speed automatic

Top speed

250kmh

Price

AED 1.2m

“The drivetrain system we engineered for Cullinan had one key job to do,” explains Caroline Krismer, engineering project leader for Cullinan. “To bring the famed Rolls-Royce ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ to all other terrains, while ensuring class-leading on-road behaviour in the SUV sector.” Off-road, the electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system uses an air compression system to actively push down any wheel it detects losing traction to ensure every wheel is constantly in contact with the ground and maximum torque is being provided to all wheels.

A single Off-Road button (known within Rolls-Royce as the ‘Everywhere’ button) harnesses the aforementioned engineering. Once engaged, it enables the Cullinan to glide over any surface, delivering the V12’s torque to all four wheels without interruption. You can scroll through the Cullinan’s traction modes manually, choosing between sand, rough track, gravel, wet grass, mud or snow, but we found it easier just to press the Off-Road button – after all, it did take us up a ski slope.

The Cullinan was designed and built after numerous requests for the manufacturer to build the Rolls-Royce of SUVs. These customers were younger and more adventurous than traditional owners, and they wanted a Rolls that could take them to the ends of the earth in total luxury. It’s no surprise to find that many of the requests came from the Middle East, and less of a surprise to find that the Cullinan is perfectly suited to life here.

Not only can it waft you to your chosen mall in complete luxury, but it can also be taken deep into the desert for some Friday night camping. It’s off-road capabilities are astonishing and yes, it even comes with an air compressor so you can drop the tyre pressure for the more serious dunes. Luxury travel has been taken to the next level: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is indeed, effortless, everywhere.

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