The Rolls-Royce Cullinan

With all the other luxury car makers throwing their hats into the SUV ring, it was only a matter of time before Rolls-Royce joined the fray. Rolls-Royce has finally lifted the veil on its anticipated SUV, the Cullinan.

“During several months of extremely arduous work, over country which was devoid entirely of roads and consisted mainly of desert sands and rock-strewn highlands, not a single Rolls-Royce armored car was laid up for an hour, except as a result of the enemy’s fire.”

That was the 1922 report on a trio of Rolls-Royce armored cars which served as escorts to a tank convoy on a trip from Jerusalem to Baghdad and back, in case the very notion of Rolls-Royce building an all-wheel drive SUV has your jaw on the floor.

Rolls-Royce’s so-called “high-sided vehicle” circumvents the familiar sport utility verbiage and uses new language to describe its supersized model, which takes visual cues from the flagship Phantom and applies them to a tall-standing, light, off-road-capable package.

Named after the largest clean-cut diamond in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, Cullinan stands to overtake Bentley’s Bentayga as the most luxurious and expensive SUV on the market.

This vehicle has been “tested to destruction” in the most extreme locations on earth to ensure that it will have intense capability in everything from desert dunes to arctic ice.  Inside, there are all of the typical coddling Rolls features as well—acres of wood, leather, and metal—but adjusted for all-weather versatility and the holding of cargo. Materials are typically top-notch but enhanced to be water-, stain-, and scuff-resistant. Under the hood there is a 6.75 liter twin-turbo V12 engine delivering 563bhp/420kW and 850Nm/627lb ft of torque to the all-new all-wheel drive, all-wheel steer system.

The rear doors open backward and can shut themselves via a small button. A glass partition separates the cabin from the luggage compartment, while the brand’s first folding rear-seat configuration transforms the Rolls-Royce pavilion seating position into a flat, cargo-friendly layout. Rolls-Royce has dubbed its rear liftgate “the Clasp” because it opens in two sections, enabling a party-friendly, rear-facing seat setup.

The rear seats are separated by a center console that houses whiskey glasses, a decanter, champagne flutes, and a fridge. The vehicle can lower itself by more than an inch and a half to make for easier entry. There’s a heated steering wheel, as well as heated and ventilated seats.

The Cullinan will use an adapted version of the computer-controlled self-levelling air shocks Rolls-Royce puts in its Wraith, Ghost, and Phantom road cars. The upgrade includes larger air struts with greater air volume to better manage impacts and the persistent jostling of the chassis on rough terrain.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce’s Chief Executive Officer, had the following to say about the Cullinan: “It is incomparable and dramatically evolves the parameters of super-luxury travel, translating Rolls-Royce’s ethos of ‘Effortlessness’ into physical capability, anywhere in the world. Cullinan will simply take the world in its stride.”

“The most anticipated car of 2018 and, quite possibly, the most anticipated Rolls-Royce of all time,” according to Rolls-Royce, the Cullinan goes on sale later this year for around $325,000 — roughly 1/100th of the estimated value of the namesake diamond.