LONON – After Bentley, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, British carmaker Rolls-Royce is set to launch its first 4X4 model – Cullinan – due in 2018.
Rolls-Royce has already confirmed Project Cullinan – its maiden SUV model – with a selection of pictures of the test mule, though hidden in the more familiar Phantom shell as a disguise.
But these two new images released this week have given us a glimpse into what the raised, robust and that-bit-boxier 4X4 will really look like when it appears in the brand’s flashy 130-strong dealer network around the world from 2018.
The pictures mark the start of the Cullinan’s UK road-test schedule – which began on December 2 – when it will be used on public highways for the first time to undergo development.
Described by the British marque – now owned by the BMW Group – as an ‘all-terrain, high-sided vehicle’, the testing will help Rolls-Royce fine-tune the all-wheel drive suspension system and new aluminium chassis that will underpin all new models in the future.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO for the brand, said: “This is an incredibly exciting moment in the development of Project Cullinan both for Rolls-Royce and for the patrons of luxury that follow us around the world.
“Bringing together the new four-wheel drive system and the new ‘architecture of luxury’ for the first time sets us on the road to creating a truly authentic Rolls-Royce which, like its forebears, will reset the standard by which all other luxury goods are judged.”
The car will ultimately go head-to-head with Bentley’s equally premium SUV, the Bentayga, which hit the market earlier in 2016.
Rolls-Royce has also confirmed that the development model will head to the Arctic Circle after Christmas to endure a period of extreme cold-weather testing before it’s shipped to the Middle East later in the new year to pass intense desert trials.
With existing models proving enormously popular in places like Dubai, these intense temperature tests are designed to prove the models can cope in all conditions.
No prices have been revealed yet, but expect it to be in the region of the existing Phantom at around £300,000. And like all Rolls-Royce variants, buyers will be able to fully customise their car to taste at an additional cost.