Rolls-Royce Cullinan first drive: Seeing is believing


Car reviews / Среда, Октябрь 10th, 2018

On the spec sheet, the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan has everything an ultra-luxury SUV needs: a new, stiff and strong aluminum architecture; a big 563-hp V12 twisting out 627 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels; surprise and delight features throughout a spacious and coddling interior; and 114 years of brand prestige oozing out every perfectly matched panel gap. That’s all fine, no problem there.

But then there’s the look of the thing.

Design is subjective, certainly, and Rolls execs admit the look of this beast is “polarizing.” But they say that owners want something that “stands out in a crowd.” The Cullinan not only does that but can easily drive over anything that gets in its way. So, we’ll let the looks sit there and you decide what you think about them for a while as we discuss all the engineering that went into the mighty and powerful beast.

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1 of 11The Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers driver and passenger alike the Rolls patented «Magic Carpet Ride,» both on road and off. Here it is going over some dirt, just to prove it can. &nbsp

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2 of 11…and here it is on some «very small rocks,» as they said in that Monty Python movie. &nbsp

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3 of 11The profile includes what designers call a «bustleback,» a tribute to when owners strapped their luggage to the deck lid, or had it strapped. &nbsp

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4 of 11The Rolls-Royce grille is still in place on the Cullinan. &nbsp

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5 of 11And look, it floats! &nbsp

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6 of 11Sunroof is huge. &nbsp

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7 of 11The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is not made for rock crawling but handles dirt well. &nbsp

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8 of 11REar seat is fabulous. &nbsp

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9 of 11Front is nice, too. &nbsp

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10 of 11Command and control is easy to figure out. &nbsp

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11 of 11Next Gallery: Kia K900 tries again this time with feeling &nbsp

The Cullinan, named for the world’s largest diamond, two chunks of which are in the royal jewels (the real royal jewels), is based on the “architecture of luxury” that forms the basis of the new and ultra-wafty Phantom sedan. The Phantom is surely the smoothest-riding creation in wheeled history. The chassis, or platform, or architecture as they like to call it nowadays, is based around diecast aluminum corners scalable to fit a number of applications by using various-size aluminum floor pans and cross members. The new Phantom platform — oops, architecture — is 30 percent stiffer than the old Phantom.

To make it into a Cullinan (“Hey Cullinan man!” There, now that’s out of the way) required only that it be sized for the job. The SUV version is actually shorter than the sedan but, of course, much taller. It’s an even 6 feet tall, 17 and a half feet long and over seven feet wide. It’s almost 8 inches longer, 4 inches higher and 500 pounds heavier than a Bentley Bentayga, the obvious comparison car. Indeed, the fact that the monstrous Bentayga plowed into the ultra-luxury market first makes the Cullinan’s entry considerably easier.

The Cullinan engine room centers around a front-mounted BMW-based V12. “Based” means only that the exterior of the casting is the same. Rolls mixes up its own aluminum alloy to pour inside, with larger-diameter bores that will then be drilled and sleeved to make up that traditional 6.75 liters of displacement. The 627-lb-ft torque output plateaus from 1,600 rpm on. The 563 hp peaks at 5,000 revs. Together they move the 5,864-pound pavement pulverizer from 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, according to my handheld timing. That curb weight can go up to around 6,000 pounds depending on how you option yours out.

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1 of 19Rolls-Royce’s first SUV is a doozy: huge and powerful, but with champagne flutes stored in a damage-proof enclosure, all the things you want in a Rolls plus a little bit of off-roadability. &nbsp

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2 of 19The Grand Teton reflected in the Cullinan’s grand grille. &nbsp

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3 of 19The Culinnan rides on an all-new «architecture of luxury.» &nbsp

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4 of 19Note the bustleback rear end, evocative of earlier Rollers on which the luggage was strapped to the rear deck. &nbsp

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5 of 19Ride height can be raised or lowered in a range of 80 mm, or a little over three inches. &nbsp

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6 of 19Behind that signature grille is a 6.75-liter V12. &nbsp

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7 of 19Whilst the exact horsepower of earlier Rollers was simply listed as «sufficient,» this one makes 563 hp. &nbsp

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8 of 19Torque is listed at 672 lb ft &nbsp

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9 of 19Suicide doors! &nbsp

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10 of 19It’s not intended as a rock crawler, of course, but you won’t mind taking the Cullinan out on your property to search for truffles. &nbsp

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11 of 19Interior is richly appointed. &nbsp

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12 of 19No complicated BMW/Mercedes controls here. &nbsp

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13 of 19Rear seats fit for a king, which will probably make up at least some of the buyership. &nbsp

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14 of 19Nice gauge pack &nbsp

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15 of 19Steering is electric power assist &nbsp

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16 of 19See? It really can go off road. &nbsp

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17 of 19Ride remains quiet over rocks. &nbsp

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18 of 19Cheers! &nbsp

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19 of 19Next Gallery: Kia K900 tries again this time with feeling &nbsp

The V12 is mounted longitudinally in front, most of it behind the axle. It’s mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic. From the transmission, there’s a transfer case that can send torque to the front axle or to the rear. Both front and rear differentials are open. Torque application to individual wheels is handled by applying the brakes to slipping wheels.

Steering at the front is by electric power assist with a 15:1 ratio. As on the Phantom, there is also rear steer but on this SUV the difference between front and rear wheel steering angle can be cranked higher for maneuvering through sand or whatever your majesty should encounter.

A single button on the console that reads, “Off Road” indicates to the drivetrain that you may be getting in the deep goop and the brains of the system begin to adjust for whatever comes your way. You don’t have to set it to mud, gravel, snow, etc — it will do all that for you. Should you so choose to meddle with the brain of the beast, you can go into a menu and do that, but you can also just trust that the Cullinan Man knows best.

Like the Phantom, this one rides on air strut suspension tuned for this application. The idea was to maintain what Rolls calls the “magic carpet ride.”

“The Cullinan was designed for excellent comfort on the road,” said chief engineer Caroline Krismer. “Then we were applying designs to achieve the best comfort possible on all terrains. We started from the extraordinarily good road comfort on the road and then broadened that to include the same comfort on all terrain.”

The electronically controlled suspension calculates body roll, acceleration, steering inputs and even information from the front-mounted camera to adjust for road undulations. The suspension hardware is a new double-wishbone setup in front and a five-link rear.

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1 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. &nbsp

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2 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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3 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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4 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 12019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 1

5 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 22019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 2

6 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 32019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 3

7 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 42019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 4

8 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 52019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 5

9 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 62019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 6

10 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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11 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 82019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 8

12 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 92019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 9

13 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 102019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in magma red Photo 10

14 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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15 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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16 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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17 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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18 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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19 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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20 of 21The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan gets a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 cranking out 563 hp and 627 lb ft of torque. &nbsp

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21 of 21Next Gallery: Meet the AMG GT 63 S Edition 1 The special AMG GT 4 door &nbsp

So off we set, myself, a colleague and one guy from Rolls who lives in the same town where they shot Downton Abbey. We hurled the nearly three-ton monster down the road. Over three tons with the three of us in it. How was it? Almost every bit as smooth and refined as a Phantom. Power and torque come on so smoothly it feels almost electric. Ride comfort is worthy of the craft’s moniker, “The Rolls-Royce of SUVs.” The steering feels likewise sleek and effortless.

After a short drive on pavement, the first stop was Snow King Mountain, a steep set of ski runs that bolt 1500 feet almost straight up over the mountain town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming like a wall. We drove right up it – all 1500 feet — from the cowboy bars and T-shirt shops of Jackson to the 7808-foot summit. The Cullinan didn’t flinch – not once did we have to call for the Cullinan Man.

Further driving, both behind the wheel and as a passenger, revealed a car the onroad manners of which are so composed that I actually fell asleep (not while driving, mind you). Subsequent long stretches of dirt road showed that while the ride isn’t as silky smooth as it had been onroad – even magic carpets have limits – the large and splendid beast remains composed and comfortable. Protective cladding along the door sills, as well as chrome cladding just above it, are angled such that stones will be deflected away from the sheet metal.

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1 of 8The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers nearly every kind of bespoke feature you could imagine, including your choice of a folding rear bench seat or folding buckets (the latter separated by a center console/drinks cabinet with – of course — Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator). &nbsp

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2 of 8The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers nearly every kind of bespoke feature you could imagine, including your choice of a folding rear bench seat or folding buckets (the latter separated by a center console/drinks cabinet with – of course — Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator). &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 32019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 3

3 of 8The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers nearly every kind of bespoke feature you could imagine, including your choice of a folding rear bench seat or folding buckets (the latter separated by a center console/drinks cabinet with – of course — Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator). &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 42019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 4

4 of 8The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers nearly every kind of bespoke feature you could imagine, including your choice of a folding rear bench seat or folding buckets (the latter separated by a center console/drinks cabinet with – of course — Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator). &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 52019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 5

5 of 8The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers nearly every kind of bespoke feature you could imagine, including your choice of a folding rear bench seat or folding buckets (the latter separated by a center console/drinks cabinet with – of course — Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator). &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 62019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 6

6 of 8The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers nearly every kind of bespoke feature you could imagine, including your choice of a folding rear bench seat or folding buckets (the latter separated by a center console/drinks cabinet with – of course — Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator). &nbsp

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 72019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan in gray Photo 7

7 of 8The 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan offers nearly every kind of bespoke feature you could imagine, including your choice of a folding rear bench seat or folding buckets (the latter separated by a center console/drinks cabinet with – of course — Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator). &nbsp

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8 of 8Next Gallery: BMW X7 Heres the 7 Series ute &nbsp

At a lunch stop we played around with the Cullinan’s new split tailgate, wherein an upper door lifts up and a lower door folds out. You can get two seats that attach to the lower half door for tailgating, presumably before the Harvard-Yale game. The power rear seats have their own articulations, pausing to make sure the fold-out rear screens and tray tables are stowed before folding down either both flat or 66/33. Those back seats can be configured for either two or three passengers. A glass partition blocks you off from your matching luggage. But don’t you dare be so droll as to ask if there’s a third-row option. This isn’t a Mazda CX-9, old boy, don’t you know. As you open the forward-hinged rear doors to exit once you reach Balmoral, you’ll be pleased to know that since the doors wrap under the door sills you needn’t concern yourself about dirtying your trouser legs. Quite.

The Cullinan starts at $325,000, with our test car said to be priced at $380,000. Prices can go much higher. Bentaygas start around half that, whilst (ha!) the far more proleworthy SUVs like the Range Rover Velar, Lexus LX 570, Mercedes GLS and Porsche Cayenne are two thirds less. Not that Rolls-Royce buyers cross shop. Buyers at this end of the stratosphere have their own motivations and it doesn’t include consumer concerns. This is the SUV they park in the hangar at Jackson Hole, while another one sits at home in Grosse Pointe or The Hamptons or Heathcliff-Upon-Bunyon.

While only each buyer can say if the exterior looks nice, the mechanics of the car are every bit what you’d expect in a Rolls.

On Sale: Very soon

Base Price: $325,000

As Tested Price: $380,000

Powertrain: 6,75-liter twin-turbo V12, eight-speed automatic, awd

Output: 563 hp at 5000 rpm, 627 lb-ft at 1600

Curb Weight: 5864 lbs (mfg.)

0-60 MPH: 5.7 seconds (est)

Fuel Economy: 12/20/14 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)

Pros: Big luxury in handy off-road form

Cons: That exterior could scare children