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Roll Royce unveils its new SUV

Konstantin Sheiko
June 1, 2018

Rolls Royce has unveiled its first SUV in London recently, revealing to the world a $325,000 machine it promises will be as robust off the road as it is regal on it. The stout new Cullinan weighs over 5,800 pounds, 400 more than both Bentley’s Bentayga and the long-wheelbase Range Rover, its closest competitors. It is also longer and wider than those SUVs. 

Plus, it rides on 22-inch wheels with narrow sidewall tires that won’t do it any ride-quality favours off-road. The world’s preeminent luxury carmaker has not revealed the engineering tricks that will let the Cullinan float down trails, but it is a safe bet that the key lies in the suspension. 

The Cullinan will use an adapted version of the computer-controlled self-levelling air shocks Rolls-Royce puts in its Wraith, Ghost, and Phantom road cars. The upgrade includes larger air struts with greater air volume to better manage impacts and the persistent jostling of the chassis on rough terrain. And the system will actively push down the wheels when it senses they have broken contact with the ground, helping maintain traction.  

A new double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear will improve agility, stability, and lateral control while steering. Four-wheel steering adds an extra boost to manoeuvrability. Finally, engineers strengthened the drive and prop shafts, and inserted an all-wheel-drive system, a departure for the typically rear-drive company. 

To keep its three tons of weight moving, a 6.75-liter, twin-turbocharged V12 engine will deliver 562 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque to whatever wheels need it. It can do that even at just 1,600 rpm, likely giving the Cullinan respectable low-speed finesse as it tackles rocks and other off-road challenges. Multiple modes will help drivers dial-in the specific terrain, though the car’s automatic settings will likely master most of what a typical Rolls Royce owner might subject it to. 

The Rolls Royce seems to match the Range Rover on ground clearance, but not its swimming ability. The Cullinan can handle 21-inch deep water. That’s certainly respectable, and beats the Bentayga by half an inch, but it is nothing compared to the 35 inches the Rover can roll through. The Bentayga takes its revenge on top speed (187 mph, trouncing the Cullinan’s 155). And Rolls is unlikely to match the Bentley’s 0-60 mph time of 4 seconds. 

On the other hand, the Rolls Royce Cullinan has, depending on your tastes, of course, a sharper and more sophisticated overall design, so no matter what you get up to, you will look quite a bit better doing it.