Up close with the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV


This approach to life demands a motor vehicle that can go-anywhere in ultimate luxury and style - Rolls-Royce style.

They looked like gunboats on wheels but they were practically unbreakable - even on a 1921 drive from Jerusalem to Baghdad over terrain so rough that the convoy speed was reduced at one point to eight kilometres a day.

Rolls calls the Cullinan the first three-box vehicle in the SUV sector, as a rear glass partition wall can separate rear passengers from the luggage compartment. This two-box layout is noisy (because your luggage is rattling around in the extended cabin) has poor acoustics, and is hard to air condition effectively.

Rolls-Royce finally has an SUV in its portfolio.

It also means that when you arrive at Gstaad for the skiing, the cabin stays toasty warm, even with the tailgate standing open while the ski-lodge porter unloads your Louis Vuittons. However, you can opt to replace the rear bench and opt for individual seats in the second row.

But the seat backs are still higher than the floor of the luggage compartment, preventing parcels and playtoys from sliding forward under braking and banging up against the backs of the front seats.

There's a choice of rear seats.

The new Rolls Royce Cullinan automatically lowers itself by 40mm when you approach it for easier entry, with the cabin featuring a completely flat floor and one of the widest door apertures available, thanks to the suicide rear doors. The Lounge Seat configuration is the more functional with space for three passengers in the rear.

The air suspension drops 40mm when parked, and raises to its driving height once the auto has started.

Rolls-Royce has officially entered off-road territory.

"This auto not only has the performance that we are well-known for, the "magic carpet ride" and materials", Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motorcars, told CNBC.

There are night vision cameras, wildlife and pedestrian warnings, active cruise control and a wifi hotspot.

Rolls-Royce regional sales manager Ian Grant said the Cullinan will launch in Australia with various packages on a base price for Australia starting from $685,000 drive-away.

To offer top-notch on-road experience, it is also equipped with a redesigned (compared to the Phantom) air suspension system, which continuously varies the electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system - reacting to body and wheel acceleration, steering inputs and camera information.

The Cullinan's driving dynamic appears to be consistent with Rolls-Royce's 114-year-old ethos of "waftability"-that is, effortless forward propulsion and a magic carpet ride".

Despite being an SUV, Rolls-Royce was able to make a long-hood, short deck design for the Cullinan.