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Rolls-Royce introduces Cullinan SUV

by Drew Johnson

The SUV craze has officially spread to Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce has officially unveiled its all-new Cullinan SUV. Named after the world's largest diamond, the Cullinan represents the first-ever utility vehicle offered by Rolls-Royce.

As expected, the Cullinan's exterior styling closely resembles that of the flagship Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan. The Cullinan is easily recognizable as a Rolls-Royce thanks to its vertical front-end treatment, complete with the automaker's signature radiator grille. Like the Phantom, the Cullinan uses distinctive rectangular headlights. And of course, the Spirit of Ecstasy is proudly perched atop the Cullinan's hood.

A sculpted hood section with separate front fenders flows into a slab-sided body — another Rolls-Royce signature design cue. A tall greenhouse adds to the Cullinan's impressive visual presence. At 210-inches in length, the Cullinan is a full 8-inches longer than the Bentley Bentayga.

Although it's difficult to call the Cullinan anything but an SUV, Rolls-Royce refers to its new utility model as a "three-box car in the SUV-sector." We'll give Rolls-Royce credit though — in order to help the Cullinan stand out from the SUV crow, the automaker fitted it with a trunk rather than a conventional hatch. After all, who wants to ride around in the same compartment as their luggage? And the Cullinan doesn't have a tailgate, it has 'The Clasp'.

"For the first time a Rolls-Royce has an opening tailgate, called 'The Clasp'," the company said in a statement. "In a nod to the era when luggage was mounted on the exterior of the motor-car, so the occupants did not travel with their belongings, the rear profile of Cullinan is a two-part, 'D-Back' format, with the bustle denoting the place of the luggage. 'The Clasp' opens and closes in its two sections automatically at the touch of the key fob button."

Despite that seemingly limiting trunk arrangement, which includes a glass partition, the Cullinan actually offers more cargo room (19.8 cubic feet) than the Bentayga and its conventional hatchback configuration (17.1 cubic feet). Moreover, the Cullinan's cargo space increases to 21.2 cubic feet if you remove the parcel shelf.

Inside you'll find a cabin styled in classic Rolls-Royce fashion. The Cullinan's dash is big and upright, with acres of wood and leather. The rear of the Cullinan can be configured with either a bench for three of seats for two. Like the Phantom's rear doors, the Cullinan's are rear-hinged.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.75L V12 that develops 563 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. The Cullinan needs that kind of firepower as it weighs in at a portly 5,864 pounds. The Cullinan comes exclusively with four-wheel drive, which is a first for Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce says the Cullinan can hit an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

The Cullinan features a revised version of Rolls-Royce's air ride suspension with beefed up components to handle off-road work. Rolls-Royce promises that the Cullinan provides the company's magic carpet-like ride even over rough off-road surfaces.

Although most off-road SUVs have several buttons to activate their various drive modes, the Cullinan has just a single button to control its four-wheel drive system. Appropriately, that button is simply labeled off-road. Rolls-Royce refers to it as the 'everywhere' button.

Rolls-Royce has not announced pricing or the Cullinan, but we fully expect it to be the most expensive SUV on the market.