The global SUV market has exploded in popularity in recent years, so it's no surprise that a variety of manufacturers want a piece of the action. Luxury SUVs from marques like Range Rover, Mercedes, Porsche and BMW are established names in the SUV game by now. However, for some, that level of luxury is not quite enough. Bentley started production of its Bentayga SUV for the 2016 model year and, despite its base price of $230,000, it has been an incredibly successful model. Even Lamborghini makes an SUV now that its 641-hp Urus has reached production. This reinforced the theory that there is a market out there for properly high-end SUVs. This week, Rolls-Royce has debuted its entry into this segment of SUVs most can only dream of affording. Fittingly, it's named after a 3,106 karat diamond. This is the Cullinan.
At the front end, the Cullinan bares a strong resemblance to the current range-topping Phantom. While the body shape is a first for the company, it embodies that recognizable Rolls-Royce design language. It's large (maybe not as large as some expected but still big), features the typical, very straight lines down the car's flanks, and has a somewhat squared-off silhouette. Of course, it wouldn't be a Rolls without the crowd-pleasing suicide doors. The SUV body style makes this the most practical car the marque has ever developed. While I don't think I'd ever call this car beautiful, it definitely gets the point across that you're not driving around in a "measly" Range Rover. Inside, the interior looks incredibly similar to the Phantom's, which is high praise to say the least.
Dynamically, the Cullinan poses an interesting proposition. While it still provides the very comfort-oriented experience you'd expect from a Rolls-Royce, this car has been tested extensively to ensure proper off-roading capabilities. It's powered by the same 6.75 liter, twin-turbo V12 as the Phantom and pushes out 563 horsepower and 627 lb ft. While the Cullinan is way over the two-ton threshold, it will still be an undeniably quick car. It uses the same satellite-guided ZF transmission as other Rolls models, which provides smooth transitions between gears. The suspension has been heavily developed to ensure a supple, comfortable ride on the road, while also being capable of soaking up the bigger bumps in the (very rare) event that an owner takes their car through some tougher terrain.
Like the Bentayga did with Bentley, I wouldn't be surprised if the Cullinan gave a nice boost to Rolls' bottom line. It mixes the traits consumers demand from SUVs with the quality and luxury features they expect from Rolls-Royce. The Cullinan starts at a price of $325,000 and will escalate rather quickly from there. While it's an incredibly expensive car, pricing won't prevent Cullinan customers from personalizing it to their collective hearts' content. It's also a tiny fraction of the price of the diamond it shares its name with. With that in mind, it's almost good value! For more on ridiculous, yet wonderful, luxury SUVs, stay tuned to Oh So Lofty.