Admit it: youve made your mind up about the Cullinan already. I know I had. Rolls-Royces first SUV has proved more divisive than a meaningful vote on leaving the European Union. Even if I proclaimed it the best car in the world – and in some respects, it probably is – the naysayers among you wont budge. Lucky weve all had enough of experts. Ahem.

Rolls-Royce always maintains its cars dont have any competitors, and in the Cullinans case thats probably true. At £100,000 more than a Bentley Bentayga W12 or fully-loaded Range Rover SVAutobiography, it exists in a rarefied super-SUV stratosphere all of its own. It will boldly go where no Rolls has gone before, too. Such all-terrain capability matters in Russia, China and the Middle East, all key markets for the Cullinan.

Im not a fan of its slab-sided styling, but nothing this side of a Chieftain tank has more rear-view-mirror presence. That imposing Parthenon grille is framed by laser headlights and a bonnet that sits proud of the front wings, not unlike like an early Land Rover. At the sides, coach doors open from the middle, providing a widescreen view of the opulent interior, while the horizontally split tailgate – which Rolls calls The Clasp – offers a perch for impromptu picnics (bring your own Bollinger).

Under the skin, the Cullinan shares much with the flagship Phantom, including its aluminium spaceframe chassis, eight-speed auto transmission and twin-turbo 6.75-litre V12. The latter musters 571hp and a titanic 627lb ft of torque, enough to launch this 2,660kg land-yacht to 62mph in 5.2 seconds. Four-wheel steering and 48-volt active anti-roll bars assist in the corners, while variable-height air suspension and an Everywhere mode – which automatically adapts to mud, wet grass, gravel, ruts or snow – are on-hand if the car park at Pangbourne gets a tad slippery.

My week was largely spent on the M25, and the furthest I ventured off-road was mounting a kerb. So well have to take that promised rough-terrain prowess as read. Suffice to say, nothing makes Chris Reas Road to Hell more palatable than a Cullinan. Pillowy-soft and whisper-quiet, it even shrugged off the concrete Surrey section. With Eleanor, the silver-plated Spirit of Ecstasy, acting as my spiritual sat nav, I felt utterly imperious.

Theres no more pleasant place to waste time in traffic either. The Cullinans cabin is an hermetically-sealed cocoon of leather, wood and polished metal, and the build-quality is second to none. I was tempted to drive barefoot, simply to bury my toes in the deep-pile lambswool carpets.

Its genuinely practical, too, with ample cubbyholes and cupholders, water-resistant leather on the dashboard and doors, plus a rear bench seat that folds flat – a first for Rolls-Royce. Leave the kids aRead More – Source


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