The Rolls-Royce Cullinan makes so much sense
It should have been created decades ago!
I mean it. The Cullinan actually makes a lot of sense for the Rolls-Royce brand. In a world where the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus, or Aston Martin DBX divide the car community, I tend to think that the brand from Goodwood's SUV should have actually happened years ago. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Geneva were kind enough to lend us a Cullinan Black Badge for a weekend (aren't we the luckiest?), so we had the opportunity to spend quite some time behind the wheel and discover what this car is all about.
So, what exactly is the Cullinan? The luxury SUV was introduced in 2018 and is the brand's first-ever SUV and all-wheel-drive car. Being such an important car for Rolls-Royce, they just had to make a statement, therefore it was named after the world's largest rough diamond discovered. It is based on a unique platform that is derived from the Phantom VIII's and is equipped with the familiar 6.75-litre V12 that makes 563 horsepower. However, this is the Black Badge we have here, so in this configuration, it actually makes 600 horsepower. Enough to take this 2'660 kg British boudoir from a standstill to 100 km/h in only 4.5 seconds and hit a limited maximum speed of 250 km/h. Truly impressive.
I know that the looks of the Cullinan can be quite a divisive subject, but "our" Cullinan was finely specced and looked quite sporty. While most of these cars will end up black, silver, or white, this Cullinan was finished in this really cool Burnout Grey. Somehow, similar-looking to Audi's Nardo Grey. However, here you can immediately spot that it is a far more complex colour that changes shades depending on the light that hits it. The extravaganza continues to the inside where we're greeted by this "Seashell" white leather with "Mugello" red details. Hate it or love it, it sure is eye-catching. The interior, to put it simply, is the pinnacle of luxury. This was obviously expected.
We spend the entire weekend looking for cheap plastics, but none were found. This particular car cost over half-a-million Swiss francs, so obviously it's all about metal, fine leather, and carbon fibre (yes, carbon fibre in a Rolls-Royce). The most luxurious SUV in the world is without any surprises, a great car to be in. It's a very relaxing environment with loads of tech and refined materials. Just the perfect car for long road trips. In terms of infotainment, it's basically a reworked version of BMW's iDrive system. Works perfectly well, but anyway you'll probably end up only using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto which can connect without plugging your phone in. The ones who will enjoy the Cullinan the most will surely be the passengers at the back. Firstly, they will be the only ones enjoying the beautiful shooting stars headliner that mimics the constellation over the Goodwood factory. They will also enjoy the rear entertainment tablets that fold into the front seats. These will let you operate everything from media to navigation.
Yes, Rolls-Royce has once again made an amazing Rolls-Royce. Even though I can already hear people scream "Yes, but it's an SUV", I still think that it is an obvious type of vehicle for the British carmaker. If you think about it, when Rolls-Royce built their first cars in 1906, they were known as the best in the world. This was mainly due to their high reliability, performance, and engineering. From Maharajas hunting Tigers in India to the Royal Family picnicking on their Sandringham's Wood Farm property, Rolls-Royce cars showed that they could drive anywhere, and especially off-road. That's also because they were actually no real roads back then. Therefore, it only makes sense to develop a car that can basically go where no other cars can go. That would be a 4x4. Question is, should have Rolls-Royce produced a more rugged Cullinan instead of a classy SUV?
I'll start by agreeing with most of you, SUVs are in most cases useless. Unless you live on a farm, in the middle of the desert, or in Antarctica, you won't ever need a high four-wheel-drive vehicle. But people love them. Therefore, the least manufacturers could do is to build a car that is genuinely capable of overrunning difficult terrains. What did Rolls-Royce do with the Cullinan? Well, they equipped it with a single "Off Road" button. That's it. Yes, sounds less sophisticated than a Land Rover's six different driving modes, but you know what? It works perfectly fine. I'd be lying if I told you I drove the Cullinan through rivers, and sand dunes (even though I tried to find some in Switzerland), but I still managed to experience how the luxury SUV can pull itself out of difficult situations.
Luckily enough, it snowed quite a lot the weekend that we got the car and our first reflex was to hit the mountains to see how it performs on fresh powder. While driving up, the steep windy roads were becoming covered in snow and many cars around us were losing grip. But not the Cullinan. The car gave us a lot of confidence and we continued to go up the mountain. More and more snow was piling up, but the Rolls-Royce kept going effortlessly. I was simply staggered by its capabilities to cope with such difficult conditions. I've driven 4x4's in less tricky conditions, and they were definitely struggling more than that. We would have loved to try the Cullinan on other types of terrains, but excuse us if we did not dare to thrash a half-a-million Swiss francs car off-road.
After all of that, it was easy to conclude that the Cullinan made a lot of sense for a brand like Rolls Royce. Most of that is due to the fact that the car respects the historic attributes that made the brand so successful in the early 20th century. The Cullinan is a marvel of engineering and as in any modern Rolls-Royce, the attention to details is just out of this world. Even though only the 1% of the wealthiest people in this world will be able to afford it, we can already predict that it has the potential to become the brand's best-seller. By the way, Rolls-Royce, will you lend us one to go and play in the mud?
I would like to thank Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Geneva and Pegasus Automotive Group for providing us with this beautiful Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge. Without them, this article would have never been possible. Ideally located between Geneva and Lausanne, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Geneva has one of the most beautiful dealerships I have ever seen in Switzerland. Also, a huge thank you goes to the team of PR&Co for perfectly coordinating this test drive.
Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge