Work on Rolls-Royce’s new SUV due in 2018 continues, as evidenced by recent prototype sightings.
It was in early 2015 that Rolls-Royce announced plans for an SUV, but the sighting of a test mule a few weeks later confirmed that work on the automaker’s first “high-sided, all-terrain” vehicle was already well underway.
Two years on, and development has reached an advanced stage.
The SUV was originally only code-named the Project Cullinan (the name is shared with the world’s largest diamond, now found on the British Crown Jewels). It’s now thought that SUV will carry the Cullinan name into production.
The coming year will be a pivotal one for Rolls-Royce as it's also when the all-new, eight-generation Phantom is due. The Phantom will be arriving first, with its reveal scheduled for July 27, 2017.
2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-MedienEnlarge Photo
The two vehicles will share a platform, in this case a new aluminum spaceframe architecture that will eventually underpin the entire Rolls-Royce portfolio. The SUV will get a shorter but higher riding version of the platform compared to the one in the Phantom.
Rolls-Royce promises that its SUV will be fully capable when off-road, and that even there it will offer the “magic carpet” ride quality the brand is renowned for. This will be due to a newly-developed suspension system the engineers are pioneering for the SUV.
It’s too early to talk specs but you can bet on a V-12 being fitted under the hood. We’re no longer expecting a plug-in hybrid model, given Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös’ preference for pure electric powertrains over hybrids. An electric Rolls-Royce isn’t expected for some time, however.
As for the styling, Rolls-Royce design boss Giles Taylor is overseeing the project and has previously hinted that a boxy, chiseled look is likely. The latest shots give us a clear look at the front of the vehicle, which seems to follow a fairly predictable route in terms of design.
Rolls-Royce says the decision to develop an SUV was driven mostly by the urging of its customers but also the pioneering, adventurous spirit of company founders Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce. The duo helped secure Rolls-Royce’s reputation last century by taking top honors in rigorous overland adventures such as the Scottish Reliability Trials, the London to Edinburgh event and the Alpine Trials, so there is some history there.