Rolls-Royce is set to enter the SUV game this year with a new model called the Cullinan.
It was in early 2015 that Rolls-Royce first announced plans for the vehicle and on May 10 the covers will finally come off.
Rolls-Royce doesn’t actually want you to think of the Cullinan as a traditional SUV, however. Instead the automaker describes it as an “all-terrain, high-sided vehicle.” That’s certainly what the prototypes suggest. The design looks very much like Rolls-Royce’s existing models but with an extended roofline and a much taller ride height.
Rolls-Royce sent its prototypes to numerous locations around the world in a challenging test program to ensure that the end product is “effortless” in all conditions. This included taking them through the thick snow of the Arctic Circle and climbing the steep dunes in the deserts of the Middle East.
Underpinning the Cullinan is the Rolls-Royce-exclusive aluminum spaceframe architecture that debuted in the recently revealed eighth-generation Phantom. The lightweight structure will eventually make its way into next-generation versions of the Ghost, Wraith and Dawn as well.
Expect the Cullinan to also borrow the Phantom’s eight-speed automatic and 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V-12, which delivers 563 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Unique to the Cullinan should be an all-wheel-drive system, though.
The idea of an off-road capable Rolls-Royce is likely an oddity to some, but even a brand as traditional as the British maker of ultra-luxury vehicles cannot sit back and ignore the booming demand for SUVs in key markets like China, the Middle East and the United States.