Rolls-Royce prefers to call its Project Cullinan an “‘all-terrain, high-sided vehicle." However, the company’s latest test mule is a full development prototype, and it indicates that SUV is a more appropriate moniker.
The latest test mule reveals the Cullinan’s monolithic shape. It’s a fitting look for a name that comes from one of the largest rough diamonds ever. A grille with vertical chrome slats dominates the front end below the raised hood and chiseled fenders. Large intakes in the fascia make the Cullinan look more aggressive than the average Rolls. The firm’s design director already confirms that coach doors, also known as suicide doors, are part of the styling.
The luxury automaker doesn’t yet fully reveal the Cullinan’s rump, but these images suggest an angular hatchback at the rear. The roof dips slightly towards the back, which keeps the vehicle from looking too boxy. It’s quite similar to an earlier speculative rendering.
Cullinan development is now in the public testing phase, and cold-wearther evaluations begin in the Arctic Circle at the end of December. It should be the perfect environment for testing Rolls’ new “all-wheel drive suspension system” that reportedly has an amazingly smooth ride. Later in 2017, the SUV goes to the Middle East for durability checks in the regions high temperatures. The debut comes in 2018.
The Cullinan will ride on Rolls’ new aluminum spaceframe platform that will also underpin the next-gen Phantom. Power will initially come from an updated version of the company’s venerable 6.75-liter V12, but a hybrid or even full EV will eventually join the lineup, according to rumors. The engine will send power to an all-wheel drive system, but the drivetrain will likely be more for on-road comfort than off-road adventures.
Prices for the Cullinan aren’t clear yet, but are sure to be in the six figures. When Rolls’ first SUV finally arrives, it should make for a direct competitor against the Bentley Bentayga.
Gallery: Rolls-Royce Cullinan development mule
PROJECT CULLINAN TAKES NEXT STEP IN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
In an open letter published in the Financial Times on 18 February 2015, Rolls-Royce undertook to regularly inform its stakeholders about the progress of Project Cullinan. Continuing this dialogue, which has seen twice-yearly updates, Rolls-Royce today publishes photographs depicting the latest key milestone in the development programme of this new ‘all-terrain, high-sided vehicle’.
In an open letter published in the Financial Times on 18 February 2015, Rolls-Royce undertook to regularly inform its stakeholders about the progress of Project Cullinan. Continuing this dialogue, which has seen twice-yearly updates, Rolls-Royce today publishes photographs depicting the latest key milestone in the development programme of this new ‘all-terrain, high-sided vehicle’. This first full development vehicle will begin testing in public from tomorrow.
The world’s leading luxury goods brand has regularly informed its patrons about this painstaking development programme. Advocates of the marque have been shown the first engineering mule built for the development of the new all-wheel drive suspension system, as well as those created to test the all-new aluminium architecture that will underpin all Rolls-Royces from 2018 onwards.
This latest development vehicle will travel to numerous locations around the world in a challenging testing programme to ensure that the end product will be ‘Effortless … Everywhere’. Just after Christmas, for example, Project Cullinan will enter the Arctic Circle to undergo cold weather durability and traction testing. Later in 2017, it will travel to the Middle East to endure the highest of temperatures and challenging desert conditions.
“This is an incredibly exciting moment in the development of Project Cullinan both for Rolls-Royce and for the patrons of luxury that follow us around the world,” comments Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Bringing together the new four-wheel drive system and the new ‘architecture of luxury’ for the first time sets us on the road to creating a truly authentic Rolls-Royce which, like its forebears, will reset the standard by which all other luxury goods are judged.”