I’ve simply completed driving a Rolls Royce up a mountain, traversing damaged, rutted trails your complete means. Whilst I kind that sentence now, with the reminiscence recent in my thoughts, it looks as if a really unusual factor to say. At 1,500 ft vertical, Wyoming’s Snow King is not precisely K2, however it’s house to the steepest ski run within the continental US — however that is a bit educational. Your common Rolls-Royce would have been left stymied by the bunny slope. Fortunately, Cullinan is not your common Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce is a kind of few manufacturers that has grow to be so iconic over the previous century and alter, that to say an merchandise is “the Rolls-Royce of…” is to say it’s the greatest in its class. So, then, is the $325,000 Cullinan really the Rolls-Royce of SUVs? After a day spent on- and off-road on this 6,000-pound brute of a Curler, it is definitely trying like a contender.
Few manufacturers would have the boldness to offer one thing as pedestrian as a car chassis a reputation like “The Structure of Luxurious,” however then that is Rolls-Royce and being evocative is what it is all about. Certainly, that what the corporate calls the inspiration of its newest sedan, final 12 months’s Phantom VIII, and it is those self same underpinnings that sit between the Cullinan’s upright physique and the bottom.
And you’ll simply see that household lineage. From a styling standpoint, Cullinan seems to be very very like a vertically elongated Phantom — not less than in passing. Look nearer, although, and you will see the brand new creases, traces and cues connecting that imposing and now even taller entrance visage to the distinctive and wholly new rear finish.
Certainly, it is the form of the hatch on the again that is most controversial from a styling standpoint, slotting in someplace between the pseudo-coupe pattern we’re seeing from many latest, luxury-minded SUVs and the full-fledged, sq. rear finish that adorns your common big-box utility machine. Taken as an entire, the Cullinan matches very nicely into the present Rolls-Royce aesthetic, however maybe lacks the innate fantastic thing about a few of the firm’s finer machines.
That is regardless of to me, as a considerably utilitarian visage on a Sport Utility Automobile is not a turn-off. Actually, it is secure to say that is probably the most sensible Rolls-Royce ever. The cargo area of 21 cubic ft behind the rear seats is probably a little bit restricted given the scale of the factor, however you possibly can configure the automotive with a folding, bench rear seat when you like. As soon as folded, most capability is 68 cubic ft.
These are power-folding seats, after all, with buttons hidden within the suicide rear doorways and on the perimeters of the rear cargo compartment. These seats do not flop down or groan noisily again into place. They slowly, gracefully pivot and tuck themselves away, and there is even an built-in ramp within the rear cargo bay that rises into place, protecting the unpleasant hole between the ground and the again of the rear seats.
The extra snug, if much less sensible, possibility would be the conventional configuration of separate, adjustable seats within the rear, that are spacious and plush and heated and cooled and so very, very snug that I am beginning to get drowsy simply desirous about them. Wood picnic cabinets built-in into the entrance seat-backs prolong on the push of a button, revealing touchscreens to entry the infotainment system, together with full management of media, navigation and local weather.
The rear seats, then, are simply nearly as good as you’d anticipate on a Phantom however, as CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös advised me, 80 % of Rolls-Royce house owners drive themselves, and certainly Cullinan is meant to be a machine for driving, not simply being pushed in.
Thoughts the gravel chips, Jeeves.
On the path
That run up Snow King occurred simply 10 minutes after climbing behind the wheel of Cullinan for the primary time. I might barely had time to get my mirrors adjusted earlier than I used to be scampering over rocks, that crystal Spirit of Ecstasy emblem on the nostril pointing towards the sky. Fortunately, Cullinan makes off-roading fairly straightforward.
Many premium SUVs current the motive force with dozens of various traction modes, and certainly many SUV house owners relish within the choice of simply the fitting one. Cullinan has a single mode, accessed by a single button that claims “Off-Highway.” Evocative? Not fairly, however the mission for all Rolls-Royce vehicles is to be easy, and certainly that is echoed right here. Press that single button and the automotive girds its loins, air suspension lifting about an inch and a half, and the traction-control system changing into extra aggressive. And then you definitely simply drive.
The automotive lacks any fancy locking differentials and would not supply something so crude as a selectable low-range switch case. However, with 627 pound-feet of torque accessible at simply 1,600 rpm, it is fairly glad to claw its means up very steep inclines at very low speeds, even on the bespoke, 22-inch, road-oriented Continental ContiSportContact 5 tires. The paths we climbed have been principally gravel, typically dry and, to be sincere, would not hassle most light-duty SUVs. Nonetheless, few if every other automobiles might make the summit whereas providing that sort of consolation.
Cullinan coasted over the rocky trails and ruts with the sort of composure that some vehicles battle to take care of on clean asphalt. Sure, I might inform after I’d crested a very giant rock, however by no means as soon as did the automotive really feel challenged, and by no means as soon as did I really feel careworn — although my blood stress could have spiked a bit when the 360-degree cameras revealed we have been inches away from a sheer cliff.
The hill descent management made the journey again down simply as straightforward, the largest risk being an area hiker who did not take too kindly to a sharing the path with a dozen or so luxurious machines.
Out right here, on the asphalt, the Cullinan is each bit a Rolls-Royce.
Flagbearer on the highway
Again on asphalt, it was time to essentially see how the Cullinan carried out in what could be its typical playground, and from right here the large SUV continued its easy efficiency. Many of the roads we crossed within the Jackson Gap, Wyoming space have been in superb form, however neither stray potholes nor cattle guards might fluster the experience high quality. Rolls-Royce calls it Magic Carpet, and that is not hyperbole.
A part of that consolation is thanks to a different evocative little bit of branding, the so-called Flagbearer system that depends on stereoscopic cameras to learn the character of the highway’s floor, adjusting the lively suspension each few milliseconds. Cullinan additionally borrows parent-company BMW’s trick of utilizing GPS knowledge to assist make sure the experience is at all times prepared for the highway forward.
However that is not to say you’re fully remoted or, certainly, bored when sitting behind the wheel. The steering is sluggish and light-weight, however there’s some really feel right here, and the brakes are progressive and strong. Drew Stearne from our UK crew has spent a greater than his fair proportion of time rolling in numerous Rollers, and he too was impressed by the automotive’s sense of engagement.
Most partaking, nonetheless, is that motor. With 563 horses on faucet, step exhausting on the accelerator and the Cullinan launches ahead in a means that may put an enormous smile in your face. The eight-speed automated, in the meantime, is totally invisible in its operation, providing the sort of smoothness and consistency most CVTs dream of.
In the meantime, most EVs could be jealous of simply how serene the Cullinan is. It took a whopping 100 kilograms (220 kilos) of sound deadening materials to make it so. Value it.
80 % of Rolls-Royce house owners will sit right here, as an alternative of the rear seat.
I might in all probability spend three,000 phrases simply describing the texture of the switchgear within the Cullinan, how the vent-pulls transfer with outstanding heft and even the buttons really feel substantial, however I will not. Suffice to say, each floor is impeccably refined.
This refinement extends into most of the automotive’s extra difficult programs. The adaptive cruise management, for instance, would not dazzle you with limitless data and warnings on the automotive’s digital gauges. As an alternative you get a easy carat on the speedometer indicating your present velocity, with a little bit pink or inexperienced line that paints the space between your present velocity and what’s been deemed authorized in your present locale.
Devoted buttons make it straightforward to alter the observe distance, and do you have to stray out of your lane, the steering wheel subtly buzzes to warn you. There isn’t any annoying chime or harsh vibration, just a bit shake that appears to say “Pardon, however it’s possible you’ll want to apply a little bit of steering angle.”
The one place this breaks down considerably is throughout the depths of the BMW iDrive-based infotainment system. On the floor it is clear and simple to make use of, however it’s nonetheless fairly straightforward to get misplaced in a sea of submenus right here. Fortunately, contact is now supported, so exiting out of mire is a little bit bit simpler.
Not your common form of tailgating.
Heaters on the seats, entrance and rear in addition to most of the surrounding surfaces, will toast your personal surfaces very quickly. They got here in fairly helpful on our blustery check day. And climbing into these seats is surprisingly straightforward. Although tall, the Cullinan would not sit as excessive on the highway as you would possibly suppose. Slim sills imply much less of a stretch to climb in, so you will not get no matter filth you have been simply driving via on the hem of these fabulous new designer denims you may in all probability by no means put on once more anyway.
And, when you actually wish to decorate, Rolls-Royce will supply a collection of so-called “Leisure Modules” to fit into the rear hatch. The best one has a pair of seats that fold out for tailgating on the polo grounds, or a little bit low-impact quail looking. Rolls plans to supply a collection of those modules to swimsuit an proprietor’s each want, even one for drone racing. You already know, simply in case you wanted one more reason to wish to attempt drone racing.
Worthy of the Spirit.
The Cullinan begins at $325,000 within the US, however if you’re shopping for a machine like this the sky is actually the restrict — except you really are into drone racing, at which level you may must outline some new set of superior limits for your self. That is an terrible lot of cash no matter your hobbies and professions, however on this section the idea of “worth” is difficult to outline, so Cullinan should be judged by itself deserves.
And people deserves are sturdy. Cullinan delivers all the identical poise and composure you anticipate from Rolls-Royce, now with way more usability and, dare I say it, practicality. This might fairly be the one automotive that might take you mudding within the afternoon after which to the Met Gala that very same night — simply be sure to swing via a automotive wash alongside the best way.
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