The world lost legendary performer Prince in 2016. But looking down from his heavenly perch, I’m certain the Lord of all things purple would be extremely proud of the “Twilight Purple” palette on this stunning 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan. From Prince’s home named Paisley Park with its purple motif throughout, to his purple boots and other fashion statements, to the movie he scored and appeared in – “Purple Rain.” The stamp of approval is certain.
And if you’re still unaware that Rolls has entered the full-luxury SUV game, witness the master of largeness, the Cullinan. There are several choices at the top of the SUV game, with efforts from Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover perennial mainstays. Newcomers Bentley, Alfa Romeo, and Lamborghini are trying to make a dent, with the Bentley Bentagya perhaps the most solid effort behind Cullinan. But make no mistake about it. The Cullinan “reigns” supreme, and makes a dramatic statement that no other current Sport Utility Vehicle can match.
When Rolls-Royce announced that it would launch Cullinan, it did so with the knowledge that its customers around the world had asked it to build “The Rolls-Royce of SUVs,” with luxury, performance and usability not seen before in the SUV market. Many of these customers were younger, very successful high-net-worth individuals who are heavily engaged in the experience economy, and wanted a Rolls-Royce that would take them to the ends of the Earth in ultimate luxury.
Automotive mobility has always been a fast moving and dynamic business, with new concepts – such as SUVs – appearing with great regularity. But those new concepts need to be perfected in order to be adopted by those customers who will accept no compromise – the patrons of true luxury. Hence the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
“The super-luxury lifestyle is evolving and Rolls-Royce is in the lead. Luxury is no longer an urban concept. More and more it is about embracing and experiencing the wider world. Our customers expect to go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise, conquering the most challenging terrain to enjoy life’s most enriching experiences, wherever they may be. For this reason, they have asked us to create a Rolls-Royce that offers uncompromised luxury wherever they dare to venture. Cullinan is that car. It is effortless, everywhere,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
My tester had a base price of $330,000, and a “commissioned” price of $426,700. Yes, you buy lesser brands, but you commission your Rolls-Royce. Given the choice of more than 44,000 colors and a plethora of bespoke options, the only thing standing between you and a truly individualized dream ride is the size of your bank account. Everything about the Cullinan says “ultimate luxury,” from the hand crafted woods and leathers, to the available picnic tables, to the available $19,900 “Viewing Suite” with which, at the touch of a button, a pair of leather clad seats with a small leather table in between, emerge from the cargo area so your tailgating experience is also spent in a full-luxe environment.
In today’s COVID-19 world, the importance of protecting occupants from harmful carbon and pollen particles, as well as viruses and bacterial contaminants, has been of the utmost importance to the marque and, since 2015, all Rolls-Royce motorcars, including Cullinan, have benefited from state-of-the-art air filtration equipment. For the new Ghost, which debuts September 2020, this technology has been further developed to incorporate a full suite of hardware and software improvements, collectively named by Rolls-Royce as the Micro Environment Purification System.
Highly sensitive Impurity Detection Sensors have been introduced to detect ambient air quality, automatically switching fresh air intakes to Recirculation Mode if unacceptable levels of airborne contaminants are present. This channels all cabin air through a Nanofleece filter, which is capable of removing nearly all ultra-fine particles, viruses and bacteria from the Rolls-Royce’s micro environment in less than two minutes.
Expect this crucial air purification technology to be available on all Rolls-Royce models in the future.
On the road, the Cullinan also excels, with abundant thrust from its 6.75-liter, twin turbocharged V12 engine. You sit high in Cullinan, so outward vision is excellent front and side, and very good to the rear.
From the Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” files, the massive Cullinan is a quite capable off-roader. In fact, my colleagues Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe won the Crossover Class of the Rebelle Rally in a Cullinan that was essentially stock. The Rebelle Rally is a seven-day navigational rally through California and Nevada. GPS and cell-phones are not allowed, and the competition is for women only. They only added skid plates to protect the running gear, a custom spare tire rack, and an aluminum substructure to provide the necessary chassis stiffness for the bending and twisting Cullinan endured during off roading. Entering off road mode via the “Everywhere” console mounted button, Cullinan’s air suspension raises the ground clearance by about 1.6 inches (for a total of about 9 inches of ground clearance) while the electronically-controlled air suspension maintains constant contact with the ground to deliver maximum torque. Cullinan can also ford standing water up to 21 inches deep. On or off road, Cullinan’s “Magic Carpet Ride” ensures proper Rolls-Royce manners no matter the terrain.
If you can’t afford the near half-million dollar cost of the Cullinan, perhaps a 1:8 scale replica will do. Sir Henry Royce once said, “Small things make perfection, but perfection is no small thing.” It is in this vein that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars presents to its clients, perfect scale models of Cullinan.
The 1:8 scale replica of a full-sized Cullinan, in which every detail is reproduced with absolute perfection, can now be purchased and enjoyed by Rolls-Royce clients. Far more than a mere model, each mini Cullinan is individually and painstakingly crafted by hand, to the client’s specification, from over 1,000 individual components. This process can take up to 450 hours – over half of the time required to build a full-sized Cullinan .
The replica is hand-painted using Rolls-Royce color-matched paint, then hand-polished to the marque’s exacting specification; the coachline is even applied using a fine brush, just as it is on the original. Clients may choose from a palette of around 40,000 ‘standard’ colors or replicate their own personal Bespoke finish. The fully functioning exterior lights are operated by a Cullinan-branded remote control; and under the ‘bonnet’ is a perfect likeness of the 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine.
On opening the coach doors, illuminated treadplates are revealed, leading to an interior designed and executed with the materials, skill and attention to detail lavished on Cullinan itself. From the headrest embroidery and wood finishes to seat piping and stitching, these Bespoke creations allow clients to recreate their full-size vehicle with astonishing accuracy, or even envision future Cullinans to add to their collection.
These unique models are USB powered and encompass full opening and closing features, doors, luggage compartment, and engine compartment as well as remote operated LED lighting.
Pricing for the mini Cullinan starts at $17,100 and can cost as much as $27,360. As is the case with the full-sized Cullinan, “If you have to ask…”
Pursuitist automotive and lifestyle contributor Brian Armstead has been involved in print, radio, web and television for over 47 years. Brian has traveled to 79 countries. He is a North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY) Juror.