When Rolls-Royce announced three years ago that it would launch Cullinan, it did so in the knowledge that its customers around the world had asked it to build “The Rolls-Royce of SUVs”, with luxury, performance and usability not seen before in the SUV market. Many of these customers were younger, very successful high-net-worth individuals who are heavily engaged in the experience economy, and wanted a Rolls-Royce that would take them to the ends of the Earth in ultimate luxury.
Automotive mobility has always been a fast moving and dynamic business, with new concepts – such as SUVs – appearing with great regularity. But those new concepts need to be perfected in order to be adopted by those customers who will accept no compromise – the patrons of true luxury. Hence the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
“History set our precedent, and today Rolls-Royce answers its call to action,” comments Müller-Ötvös. “Our answer to the visionaries, adventurers, explorers and those who believe in the supremacy of liberty is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.”
What is Cullinan?
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is Rolls-Royce as it’s never seen before. When Sir Henry Royce said, “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it”, he could have had Cullinan in mind.
“We knew we had to offer our clients what they couldn’t find in the SUV market,” continues Müller-Ötvös. “They do not accept limitations or compromises in their lives. They are the new pioneers, and for them it’s about their sense of adventure and daring in how they live their experiences. This approach to life demands a motor car that can go-anywhere in ultimate luxury and style – Rolls-Royce style. Hence Cullinan.”
It was clear that these new, younger and more adventurous customers wanted a Rolls-Royce that would take them completely off the beaten track and reward them with life’s most enriching experiences. What they didn’t want was a vehicle as ubiquitous as an SUV with compromises such as increased cabin noise due to the “two-box” formula; shared platforms that affect performance and comfort; the choice of being good either on-road or off-road; or a lower, more featureless SUV that blends in and becomes just another car.
“Cullinan is luxury in its purest form blended with perfect practicality and off-road capability,” comments Müller-Ötvös. “Effortless, Everywhere is not just the promise behind Cullinan. It’s the fact.”
Making luxury Effortless, Everywhere engendered an evolution in Rolls-Royce’s approach to creating an authentic Rolls-Royce SUV. The most obvious sign of this was the radical rear of Cullinan.
For the first time a Rolls-Royce has an opening tailgate, called ‘The Clasp’. In a nod to the era when luggage was mounted on the exterior of the motor-car, so the occupants did not travel with their belongings, the rear profile of Cullinan is a two-part, ‘D-Back’ format, with the bustle denoting the place of the luggage. ‘The Clasp’ opens and closes in its two sections automatically at the touch of the key fob button.
The rear passenger compartment of Cullinan has been designed to offer the best seat in the house for the owner’s particular needs. Two rear configurations are offered – Lounge Seats or Individual Seats.
The Lounge Seat configuration is the more functional of the two options. With space for three passengers in the rear, it will likely be more attractive to families. The rear seats also fold down – a first for Rolls-Royce.
The seats fold electronically in a number of configurations by pressing the appropriate button in the boot or rear door pocket. One press sees each backrest effortlessly fold down, whilst at the same time moving the headrests upwards to avoid making an imprint on the seat cushion. Both seat backs can be folded completely, creating a flat load area or in a 2/3 and 1/3 split, increasing practicality even further. Rear passengers can still travel with a long load, or use the carpeted seat back as an occasional table on which to rest their precious personal items.
For those who intend to transport large items back from their adventures, the rear of Cullinan offers a large amount of space in different arrangements.
The rear compartment or boot area offers a standard 560 litres of space, growing to 600 with the parcel shelf removed. Furthermore, the base of the rear seats sits higher than the boot floor, so even with both rear seats folded, the items in the boot cannot slip forward and are safely contained, unlike in any other SUV. But for those wishing to carry a long item back from their trip – whether it be a Mark Rothko from the Art Gallery or a newly discovered artefact from the latest archaeological dig – a loading length of 2245mm and load capacity of 1930 litres is accessed by electronically raising the boot floor to meet the seat base, allowing the item to slide through effortlessly.
Rolls-Royce’s investment in making the rear of Cullinan effortlessly and ultimately practical has the side benefit of offering a loading length longer than a Range Rover Vogue Extended Wheelbase. A very practical Rolls-Royce indeed.
Knowing that the Rolls-Royce customer expects to bespoke his or her Cullinan, a second rear configuration is offered.
The Individual Seat configuration is for those who value the ultimate luxury an SUV can offer over practicality. The two individual rear seats are separated by a Fixed Rear Centre Console incorporating a drinks cabinet with Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator. The seats also move in a number of planes to offer ultimate comfort whilst travelling in the rear.
One final feature brings Rolls-Royce’s ultimate level of luxury to this configuration of Cullinan, creating the first truly “three-box” SUV. Inspired by the age when one never travelled with one’s luggage, a glass partition isolates the passenger cabin from the luggage compartment, creating an inner ecosystem for the occupants. In addition to enhanced and class-leading silence within the cabin, a further benefit becomes clear in the hottest and coldest of environments. Thanks to the sealed cabin created by the glass partition wall, the occupants can remain in the optimum temperature even when the luggage compartment stands open.