The new Rolls-Royce Cullinan could be world's most luxurious SUV

It's the SUV without compromises, at least according to Rolls-Royce.

Never mind that the chances of anyone using their $685,000-plus Rolls-Royce for its intended off-road purpose are remote, at best.

The first off-roader from the exclusive luxury brand blends classic Rolls-Royce design features with a high riding SUV body – albeit with the distinctive, bold design the brand is known for.

Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor says it's about creating a car as prepared for adventure as it is for pampering.

"We knew we had to offer our clients what they couldn't find out there in the SUV market," says Taylor. "Our customers do not accept limitations or compromises in their lives and how they live them. It's not just a case of travelling around the country estate and then on to the townhouse, or doing it at the fastest speed possible. Our customers are the new pioneers, and for them it's about their sense of adventure and daring in how they live their experiences.

Naming rights

The Cullinan is named after the Cullinan diamond, the largest uncut diamond ever discovered, at 3106 carats.

It also represents the rare addition of a new name to the Rolls-Royce family, symbolic of how different the Cullinan is to anything Rolls has done before; the Cullinan is not only the first SUV from the brand but also the first Rolls-Royce to drive all four wheels.

Under the skin

The Cullinan sits on the same underpinnings as the soon-to-arrive Phantom, the pinnacle of the Rolls-Royce range.

Rolls-Royce refers to it as the "Architecture of Luxury", something that provides "the canvas to protect the lineage and brand integrity of Rolls-Royce whilst establishing a modern footprint for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, without compromise".


Made from aluminium, the architecture is a space frame construction, something normally associated with race cars, such is its low weight and strength.

Suspended on air

Like many top-end limousines or off-roaders, the Cullinan rides on pockets of air rather than traditional coil springs.

As well as being able to adjust the ride height of the car – for more clearance over challenging obstacles – it allows adjustment to the stiffness of the ride.

As with the Phantom, Rolls-Royce also employs twin forward-facing cameras to monitor the road, preparing the car for bumps and jolts.

The shock absorbers also have air compressors that can push each wheel closer to the rocks/mud/sand/snow you're driving over, with the aim of improving traction – in turn reducing the chance of getting bogged.

Sufficient power

Under the big, bluff bonnet is the same 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 used in the Phantom.

It's a modified version of an engine built by BMW, owner of Rolls-Royce.

It produces 420kW and 850Nm and is channelled through an eight-speed automatic that utilises satellite-navigation data to choose the right gear for hills or grades, improving response and comfort.

Roll out the luxury

There will be no camp chairs or pesky fires on arrival – assuming you are actually heading for a campsite.

Those who choose the Cullinan Viewing Suite will instead be presented with two leather chairs and a cocktail table folding from the stumpy rear of the off-roader. Or you can opt for a three-person lounge chair, making for something far more inviting than the back of a ute.

Other options for the "recreational module" include a drone racing kit, rock climbing gear or even equipment for base jumping.

Perfect for the adventurous (and younger) Rolls-Royce owner!

Hot and cold

Rolls-Royce has also doubled the efforts to ensure the ideal body temperature is maintained.

As well as heated seats, there are now heated armrests and even a heated top to the centre console.

There's even a glass partition between the cabin and the luggage area, ensuring no cold or hot blasts upset the ambience.

Welcome party

As you approach the Cullinan and press its leather-backed key the suspension lowers 40mm to reduce the climb into the high-riding cabin.

Such technology is nothing new – various luxury off-roaders perform the same task – but the rear-hinged "suicide" back doors make for a graceful entrance.

Rolls-Royce has also wrapped the bottom of the doors under the car, ensuring the sill remains dirt free even in the most dirt-strewn adventures; no dirtied trousers or skirts when entering the vehicle.

Getting down and dirty

While it's claimed to deliver new levels of comfort and opulence to off-road tracks, don't expect to see any Cullinans bouncing along the Birdsville Track or trudging to the tip of Cape York.

Anyone who can stump up the anticipated $685,000 price tag is more likely to summon the private jet and head for Longitude 131 or Berkeley River Lodge in the comfort of a Bombardier or Gulfstream rather than hours on end in the back of a car.

The point is, it can do it – if one wants to.

For Rolls-Royce owners – as with so many who drive a Range Rover – knowing it can tackle the world's toughest tracks is all important.

But the reality is the most likely place a Cullinan will gets alloy wheels muddy will be at the Birdcage Carpark at Flemington.