Rolls Royce SUV

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Jan 27, 2013
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Goulburn, NSW
I've seen a few expensive and impressive 4wd's around various creeks, most recently a Ford F350.

However, I don't expect to see one of these.

I've pasted the review from Saturday's paper in case anyone has a spare $685,000!


"Theres a popular joke that involves a traveller getting lost in (insert godforsaken region) and stopping to ask the way to a nearby town. You cant get there from here, says the local. Its funny because the answer is absurd but also because we know what the local is getting at: its too tricky, you need to backtrack.

In the early days of motoring, a century ago, getting from anywhere to anywhere was difficult. There were few roads and lots of war. It was then that Rolls-Royce earned its reputation, which originally centred on its unbreakability rather than its status. It impressed maharajahs in Indian jungles and generals in the shell craters of Europe. Lawrence of Arabia, who employed a small motorised platoon, said: A Rolls in the desert is above rubies.

Its possible well, plausible that a modern Rolls might be capable of similar things. But no one would try they dont have to. They would take the Range Rover instead. So theres something ironic about the latest addition to the RollsRoyce stable. If you can beat them, it seems, you still have to join them.

Pictured here is the Cullinan, the brands debut SUV. Its named after the worlds largest diamond it trumps rubies, presumably and answers a call to action from the visionaries, adventurers, explorers and those who believe in the supremacy of liberty according to chief exec Torsten Mller-tvs.

Rolls sedans are huge, hefty, high-riding leviathans so its no surprise its SUV dwarfs even the most gigantic Rangie. Its built on a shortened version of the new Phantoms underpinnings but is still longer than many limos at 5.3m. It towers 20cm above a Phantom at more than 1.8m but is wider than a supercar and heavier than other Rollers at 2.7 tonnes. The test car rode on enormous 22-inch wheels. You cant miss the Cullinan its the pachyderm in the garage.

It has the same gate-style doors as Rolls sedans and lowers its suspension to ease ingress. Inside, an appealing box grain leather, inspired by Italian luggage, adds a durable air to the trim. The electronics, donated by owner BMW, includes the latest touchscreen tech and its loaded with safety and assistance gadgets courtesy of Munich. Theres as much smooth hide, deep lambswool and tactile timber as youd expect.

In a dig at rival Bentley, which developed its Bentayga SUV using engineering from Volkswagen brands, Rolls says its customers disdain shared platforms that affect performance and comfort and reject the two-box design ubiquitous to the segment. So the Cullinan claims to be the first SUV with a sedans three-box (bonnet, cabin, boot) qualities and proportions.

This is almost true. In four-seat configuration, a glass panel separates passengers from stowage, isolating them from noise and the outside temperature when the tailgate opens. Theres room for 560 litres of luggage and space between the rear seats for a brandy decanter.

In five-seat layout the rear bench folds, although the resulting load space is not flat. Rolls has the answer: [For] those wishing to carry a long item back from their trip whether it be a Mark Rothko or a newly discovered artefact from the latest archaeological dig a loading length of 2245mm and load capacity of 1930 litres is accessed by electronically raising the boot floor to meet the seat base. It will still need to fit between the intrusive wheel arches, though.

Even loaded to the gunnels theres more than enough grunt to cope. The Cullinan has the turbo 6.8-litre V12 from the Phantom, retuned for the same power (420kW) and slightly less torque (850Nm) at lower revs. Progress is effortlessly quiet. Theres a pause when you mash the throttle as the transmission and engine digest your instructions, then the Cullinan accelerates like a stately home dropped from a cliff. Getting to 100km/h takes just 5.2 seconds.

Despite its size, its an assured drive. Like other Rolls its surprisingly easy to place on the road, steering is finger-light and it swivels readily into corners thanks to four-wheel steering a system that means it needs only a small paddock to turn around. Clever suspension ensures that while youre aware of its height, it sashays gracefully around bends.

The same system also raises the car for off-road work, and the torquey driveline can handle a bit of slippery going. Like an elephant, its surprisingly good on its feet.

But its no mountain goat, and a Range Rover would go much further. In normal road driving, the transmission sends power to the rear wheels and puts the fronts on standby. In off-road mode, torque splits 50:50 front-rear and the transmission can be locked into second gear for mud or sand. It can out-wade a Bentayga (just) with up to 540mm of immersion possible. Ground clearance figures are absent from the spec sheet. Nevertheless, it brings a measure of practicality for Rolls owners with outdoor pursuits and will measure up to most of them, with ample possibilities for customisation. Options include a viewing suite platform with two leather pews and a cocktail table that deploys from the rear. Touch of a button, natch. Anyone for polo?

The Cullinan is about Rolls bowing to marketing inevitability. It looks the part and has more go-anywhere ability than its stablemates in a world where no one would attempt sand dunes in a Rolls sedan. It stands head-and-shoulders above other luxury SUVs in more ways than one and shares a lot with the Phantom, which starts $170k higher. Still, it comes at a price that means Bentley owners will have to ask. The answer: you cant get there from here.

Fast facts Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Engine: 6.8-litre twin turbo-petrol V12 (420kW/850Nm).

Average fuel 15 litres per 100km

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

Price: $685,000 drive away

Rating: Four stars out of five"

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