In Depth

Rolls-Royce Cullinan 2018: release date, prices, specs and reviews

The British car firm’s first off-roader has a mighty V12 engine and the ability to glide seamlessly over potholes

Rolls-Royce launched its Cullinan SUV earlier this year in a bid to dethrone the Bentley Bentayga as the most luxurious - and expensive - off-roader on the market.

The new car is the British company’s first attempt at a crossover and is named after a 3,106-carat diamond discovered in South Africa in 1905. 

Rolls-Royce isn’t keen on the SUV tag, however, given that it is attributed to cars ranging from compact crossovers to off-roaders. Instead, the Cullinan is being marketed as an “all-terrain high-bodied” vehicle.

Here’s what else you need to know about the high-end newcomer.

Price and release date

Prices for the Cullinan start at £250,000, which as WhatCar? points out, “eclipses” the £165,000 tag on the rival Bentley Bentayga W12 and “far outstrips the most luxurious version of the regular Range Rover”.

Orders are open now, with deliveries kicking off in early 2019, according to the Daily Mail.

Reviews

“The moment you climb into the vast cabin, you feel strangely empowered,” says Auto Express. Drivers sit “very high” inside the Cullinan, and peer down at the Spirit of Ecstasy “mascot” that adorns the front of the vehicle.

All the passengers in this opulent crossover are “subsumed in luxury”, with the dashboard “clad in durable and water-resistant box grain leather, similar to that used in high-end Italian luggage and handbags”, the magazine adds. Even the leather on the car’s key matches the interior trim. 

The Daily Mail notes that the Cullinan’s “steering and handling is sharper” than that of the company’s “more stately” Phantom limousine. The SUV feels “nimble” and “has a surprisingly tight turning circle”, given its 2.7-tonne weight, the newspaper says. 

“Extensive soundproofing” ensures the car is quiet when cruising, but there’s still a “satisfying roar” from the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine under acceleration, the Mail adds. 

As buyers might expect from a V12-engine crossover, the Cullinan won’t be cheap to run. The new model emits 341g/km of CO2 emissions and has an average fuel economy of 18.8mph, which will probable lead to “stratospheric” running costs, says Top Gear

Of course, high fuel and tax bills may not be a problem buyers looking to spend £250,000 on an SUV. In fact, with the first batch selling quickly, Top Gear suggests that affluent car fans “buy two” when they place their orders.

Design

The Cullinan is the second car to use Rolls-Royce’s new “highly flexible” aluminium production platform, after the Phantom saloon that launched last July, says Autocar.

The crossover’s styling is “upright and quite formal”, although Rolls-Royce claims the car looks just as good in bold paint schemes as it does in the subdued launch colours, the magazine says.

While the Cullinan is Rolls-Royce’s take on a modern body style, it also takes styling cues from many of the company’s other vehicles, including the Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament that has adorned every Rolls since the brand launched 114 years ago.

The new car also adopts the new Phantom’s LED headlights and muscular wheel arches. 

The Daily Express argues that the Cullinan’s design is “going to be divisive”, as it is “essentially the face of a Phantom bolted onto a bulky SUV”.

Interior and tech

The off-roader’s luxurious looks extend to the cabin. A number of the interior design elements also hail from the new Phantom, including the sloping centre console and digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel.

As Rolls-Royce customers would expect, the Cullinan is equipped with high-quality materials and switchgear. There are lashings of leather and wood highlights, with a touchscreen infotainment system set above the centre console.

Buyers can even order a glass partition that seals off the boot from the rest of the cabin, which could be especially handy for dog owners, says GQ. There is also an optional pair of seats that allow owners to sit in the boot when the vehicle is stationary. 

Engines

Since the Cullinan shares the same platform as the Phantom, it features the saloon car’s 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 engine.

This engine packs a punch, boasting a power output of 563bhp and 627lb-ft of torque at just 1,500rpm, says Auto Express. All Cullinan models come with a four-wheel drive system, in case customers want to take their luxury SUV off-road, along with all-wheel steering.

Acceleration times have yet to be announced, but Rolls-Royce says the car’s top speed is limited to 155mph. 

Despite its sporty credentials, the Cullinan is expected to be an effortless cruiser on the roads, says Business Insider. The SUV comes with “self-levelling air suspension”, which irons out bumps and potholes in the road and makes for a “magic carpet ride”.

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