The Rolls-Royce Cullinan takes luxury to new heights
Whenever I am given the keys to a test car for the weekend I will always spend a good 30 minutes sitting in it letting my young daughter beep and boop her way around the interior. She gleefully pretends to drive me to ‘work’ or to “Spinney’s to buy ice cream”, and demanding to know the purpose of every single button, RR monogramed toggle, and chrome plated vent within her reach.
I partly do it because it’s good fun, but also because I believe that young children tend to be very honest when it comes to things that are tactile and experiential – and in the automotive world you don’t get more experiential than the interior of a Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
At four years old she has little understanding of the legacy of the Rolls-Royce marque – or the feather ruffling around the automaker’s arrival into the SUV market with the launch of the Cullinan in 2018 – but proudly declares “daddy, this is so awesome!” as she looks up at a ‘star’ shooting across the car cabin’s ceiling, which has LED lights designed to mimic constellations twinkling in the night’s sky.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the first SUV to come from the brand in its 116-year history, and home to a good number of other firsts for the ultra-luxury carmaker.
The Cullinan is the first Rolls-Royce to come with all-wheel-drive (like, *gasp* a tractor), the first to have flat-folding rear seats (like, *gasp* a hatchback), the first to have a tailgate (like, *gasp* a lorry) and if you like, rubber floor mats (like, *gasp* a taxi).
However, Rolls-Royce has done its level best to ensure the Cullinan is quite unlike any other sort of SUVs driven by everyone else.
To start with, Rolls-Royce has done so by making the Cullinan big. And we mean really, really big. Yuge levels of bigly.
At 5.4m long, 2m wide and 1.8m tall, the Cullinan boasts the sort of bulk that could blot out the sun. Not quite the 6m-long land barge that is a Phantom Extended Wheelbase, but what the Cullinan lacks in length, it more than makes up for in height.
And once seated in its big leather armchairs (with the Rolls-Royce monogram emblazoned on its headrests, or just about anything else of your choosing), you really do feel like you’re the captain of a ship, peering over a lengthy prow crowned with a Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet ornament.
And once you get the barge moving, you’ll realise that while the Cullinan is unlike any other Rolls-Royce before it, owing to its tall nature, you’ll also realise that every molecule of its being has the brand’s hallmarks baked into it.
More than the calmness of its ride, more than the immense reserves of thrust apparent in its 6.75-litre V12 (“waftability” in Rolls-Royce speak), more than the quality of its cabin is the car’s sheer majesty.
The Cullinan has the magical ability to make anything short of an 18-wheeler feel like a toy when you’re ferrying the family about, making you feel like the lord and master of all that you survey.
Akin to the cockpit of a spacecraft, the sheer amount of driver and comfort tech makes this SUV one the most technologically advanced car of its type in the world. Further equipment includes: Night Vision and Vision Assist including wildlife and pedestrian warning; an alertness assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view; Active Cruise Control; Collision Warning; Cross-Traffic Warning, Lane Departure and Lane Change Warning; an industry leading 7x3 High-Resolution Head-Up Display, WiFi hotspot, and of course the latest Navigation and Entertainment Systems.
But while the driving experience is blissful, it’s hard to shake the well-established opinion that a ‘Roller’ is best enjoyed from the back seat – currently occupied by my daughter who has discovered the car’s hidden fridge with custom-made, laser-cut champagne flutes; and – more importantly for her – the fold down screen, reclining seats and ‘rear theatre’ configuration so she can watch Paw Patrol.
Unfortunately, one thing that the Cullinan won’t do is drive itself…yet. Although that’s very much on the cards and “exactly what we see as the future of the brand”, Rolls-Royce boss Torsten Mueller-Otvos told Esquire earlier this year.
An automated driving future is exactly what we would expect Rolls-Royce and the levels of luxury that it is renowned for delivering. As is evidence with the Cullinan, they seem to have mastered everything else, just ask my daughter’s dad.
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