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Spy Shots: Rolls-Royce Cullinan – The SUV of those who find the Phantom too small

Kamil Kaluski May 9, 2018 All Things Hoon 28 Comments

If you think Rolls Royce making an SUV is a blasphemy, you’re wrong. Rolls-Royce has been making SUVs for decades, it just that they were all disguised as cars. That is quite opposite from a modern cross-over vehicle which is a car disguised as a utility vehicle. If you don’t believe me, find one of the smaller Rollses, like the Dawn or the Ghost. Stand next to it and observe. You’ll notice that belt-line is near your chest, that the side mirrors are similar in side to those on a full-size pickup, and that the vehicle footprint is similar to that of a Chevy Tahoe, if not bigger. 

Make no mistake, the Cullinan will be a huge vehicle if for no other reason then to show its superiority over lesser vehicles. You see, to have a Rolls is to be seen and when everyone at the country club or posh restaurants switched to huge SUVs, the Rolls-Royce vehicles were no longer the dominant ones. They no longer got all the looks and they got lost is the sea of huge vehicles. The only way for Rolls to go is to go bigger, and hence the Cullinan which will easily surpass six feet in height. 

Thanks for sending these, and the Supra spy shots in, Brandon! Sorry it took us so long to get to them.

I think the bigger-is-better approach will work well for Rolls. Look at Mercedes and their jacked-up and 6×6 versions of the G-class, they get all the attention. Like the G-class, the Cullinan will be overly square, to further show that the alpha-male has arrived. For reference, recall the Bentayga, the new “sporty” SUV from Bentley. It does not dominate in size and it has curvy body design. I see one almost everyday, it looks like just another family hauler. But the Cullinan, you’ll never mistake that for an Audi or anything else but a Rolls-Royce. 

Rolls-Royce makes no secret about developing their first ever SUV. Not only is on the first page of their cooperate website, they actually collaborated with National Geographic magazine (because prime target audience reads it?) for some videos, which are all over their .

No details are revealed but assume a V12 engine and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some form of an electric propulsion or electric power adder. It will surely have air suspension, too. In addition to the most comfortable ride and handling, air suspension maximizes load and towing capacities. It will also allow the big Rolls to raise up for additional ground clearance, something clearly seen in the videos. Not to be outdone by the Range Rover and the G-class, expect locking differentials and magic electrical wizardry controlling them. 

Also assume the Cullinan to be a two-row vehicle, because this is, after all, a Rolls-Royce. The rear passengers are the most important occupants in a proper Rolls-Royce and they will be getting all the room and all the amenities, not unlike the Phantom or the Ghost. One doesn’t drive a Rolls-Royce, one is driven a Rolls-Royce. Third row seat? Ha! This ain’t a Suburban. 

  • If it’s anything like its eponym, cut away about two thirds of the raw material to leave some real gems.

    • Van_Sarockin

      I’ll bring my sawzall.

  • Zentropy

    I can’t afford a Ferrari or a Lambo. But are they coveted by car people? Hell yes!
    I can’t afford a Rolls, but are they coveted by car people? Not really. The Cullinan is a (boring) SUV for people that like to spend money so they look like they have money.

    • I still want a Legalimit.

      • Zentropy

        Ok, so ONE car person covets a Rolls, even if it is a 113-year-old snail of a buggy.

        • pj134

          I also want a variety of Rolls. Could even include this one and I wouldn’t mind.

          • Alff

            Growing up a neighbor had a Springfield Phaeton. Ratty and unrestored. He used to put a lit Christmas tree in the back and take the family Christmas caroling. I’d dig something like that. Silver Shadow is one of my five favorite 3-box sedans. I’d take one of those, too.

          • Rover 1

            With your coachbuilder’s acquiescence, other versions were available.

      • tonyola

        Are you sure you wouldn’t have this 1905 Rolls-Royce Laudaulet? It’s got the same V8 as the Legalimit but it’s definitely weirder. Actually, you can’t have them – only one of each was built and neither survived.

        • As much as I am drawn to the idea of a forward-control Rolls-Royce (chassis below), the flawed philosophy behind the Legalimit holds a greater appeal.

          • Looks like the chassis of my old Ford Econoline van!

        • outback_ute

          The first Town Car?

      • Rover 1

        I think I’ve worked out what attracts you to certain vehicles and those vehicles only.
        Right there in that paragraph.

        ‘But the ‘Legalimit’ was not a success.’

        • That’s part of it. Another part is that their failure came from taking a chance on the unconventional.

    • P161911

      Bentley was always the enthusiast side of Rolls Royce, at least until the split up.

  • JayP

    In the latest Harry’s Garage review of whatever that Rolls is he said he spoke with a Rolls rep and discovered the plan is to go straight into electric. No hybrid. May be the issue that by that point the larger cities will have banned petrol powered vehicles.

  • tonyola

    Cullinan? Wimpy wimpy wimpy. I want this badass-looking Rolls-Royce.

    • tonyola

      Besides, Cullinan makes me think of this…

  • neight428

    Time to dust off the old tooling for the powertrain!

    What’s the over/under on the air suspension’s service life? I presume the prospective customer base doesn’t care. It’s an enviable niche of the market that gets to sell something to people that actually want to spend more than anyone else.

  • Van_Sarockin

    Plenty of old RR SUVs right here. I’m sure a bunch were also fitted out counting tigers, and suchlike.

  • Rover 1

    It looks OK in a subdued, non flashy way. Exactly like a Rolls Royce should, IMHO. Robert Cumberford likes it.


    • outback_ute

      “subdued, non flashy”

      Or is our frame of reference broken thanks to Mansoury’s and the like? I suppose it could have been worse?

      • Rover 1

        Well, not like a BMW SUV.

        • outback_ute

          You mean the ones with the giant grilles that look like a face Jeremy Clarkson did?

          • Rover 1

            Yes, like the new X8,

            BMW has discovered chrome.Like the scythe that starts behind the wheel arch and continues under the door.

            Not exactly ‘form follows function’, though no doubt there’s some guff about ‘introducing the emotional content of design’ and something to do with ‘going forward’ At least on the RR, the chromed lines align.

            • outback_ute

              At least it is better than that X7 concept that had a vertical ‘blade’ without the ‘going forward’ factor… On the other hand I would like to see the business case for building the X7 and X8 versus just one, or a compromise between the two (roofline/rear window).

  • kogashiwa

    I figured out what this thing reminds me of.

    • outback_ute


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