ROUGH DIAMOND (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Rolls-Royce provides the ultimate large luxury SUV with this Cullinan model. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 69
In the Cullinan, Rolls Royce has delivered not only the world's most exclusive luxury SUV but also its most divisive car ever. Much of the engineering is shared with the Phantom and with various BMW models, but this exclusive brand has blended it all together into a car that has a very unique personality that you'll either love or hate. One thing's for sure; there's nothing quite like it.
Backgroundword count: 134
Does the world need a Rolls Royce SUV? Apparently so because this car, the Cullinan, is sold out for years ahead. It's the first model of this kind that the brand has produced and, perhaps a little more surprisingly, the first to feature 4WD. That set up is BMW-derived but the bespoke aluminium space frame the huge body sits upon isn't - Rolls wants to move away from the Munich maker's architecture. Unsurprisingly, the company hasn't engineered this model for Range Rover-rivalling off road prowess. Instead it's intended for what the company calls 'the lost mile' element of journeys - the awkward final bit of a multi-millionaire's journey to his ski lodge or partridge shoot. Ultimately, this was always going to be a controversial car. But is it a good one? Let's find out...
Driving Experienceword count: 271
There's not much about the engineering of the Cullinan that's unfamiliar. The aluminium platform is shared with the Phantom, as is the 6.75-litre V12 plumbed in beneath the expansive bonnet. It puts out 563bhp but here has been tweaked for the kind of greater low down torque appropriate for an SUV. It drives through another familiar Rolls fitment, an 8-speed auto gearbox that allows the sat nav to help with gear selection but not the driver. And power gets to the tarmac, the mud or the snow via an embellished version of BMW's xDrive 4WD system that, via an electronically-controlled clutch, can send up to 100% of power to the rear axle or divert up to 50% of it to the front, as required. There's all of BMW's choicest active drive dynamics technology of course, electrically-active anti-roll bars (needed because there'd otherwise be Channel Ferry levels of roly-poly cornering demeanour). Plus you also get active rear-wheel steering (needed to avoid the turning circle being comparable to that of a London bus). And of course electronically-controlled air suspension, which rises by 40mm in off road mode. There's nothing as crude as a low range gearbox of course (so owners can't expect this car to match a Range Rover on the rough). But apparently, if you switch the stability control off, it locks the all-wheel drive into a 50:50 torque split, which ought to be enough to help owners extradite themselves from a mildy mucky spot. On tarmac, 62mph from rest is impressively brisk given the gargantuan weight - 5.2s dead. But the towing capacity at launch was quoted at just 2.5 tonnes.
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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