Wafting around the Cotswolds…

Rolls Royce Cullinan

Model on test: expensive!

Time for a big one. And not just in terms of price, but the shear scale of this car. I was surprised when Rolls Royce announced they were building an SUV because if didn’t quite seem to make sense for the brand, but then I’ve thought that before and been proven wrong, so when I was invited to a test drive event, I went with an open mind.

Firstly, I should highlight that this article isn’t headed with a price – partly because I had no indication of how much the model I drove was, and partly because it’s not as simple as taking the list price and adding the extras. You see, you don’t order a Rolls Royce; you commission it. They don’t come with a list of options, you tell Rolls Royce what you’d like – and they build it.

That said, they start at £264,000, so it’s safe to assume that this press demonstrator was probably close to £400,000, but once you’ve passed a quarter of a million you kind of stop counting!

But on to the car… can Rolls Royce, the maker that bought us the true definition of luxury, handle the concept of driving off road? This is a manufacturer that includes decanters and champagne flutes in its vehicles for the incredibly discerning owners – surely one cannot sip a glass of bubbly while ‘Parker’ negotiates the Cotswolds’ green lanes?

Actually, with the pillow-like suspension as good as it is, I suspect you could. But I also think this is a Rolls that will be driven more by its owner than a chauffeur, so that’s probably not so relevant. On to the design elements…

What do you get for a quarter of a million in terms of refinements and gadgets? Put simply: a lot, so I’m going to pick up on a few of the more unusual. Let’s start with the doors – they entirely encase the door sills, so the sills stay clean and dry even through the worst the muddy, wet English countryside can throw at it, so when you reach your destination and open the door, there’s no risk of getting mud on your trousers as you get out. Nice touch.

What if it’s raining when you get out? There are umbrellas housed in the door frame – and the holster for the umbrella is heated so that if you put it back in still wet, the warm air wafting over it will dry it before you have to use it again.

One other thing that I’ll mention is the gearbox, which is connected to the sat nav. Seems odd? It’s so that the automatic gearbox ‘knows’ if there’s a hill coming up and can change gear before the engine is required to waft the car up the incline, ensuring the smoothest of rides for the driver and occupants. Overkill? Perhaps, but also something I’d expect from the designers at Rolls Royce.

Overall I was impressed with the Cullinan. Yes, it’s huge, yes it’s powerful – the 6.7 litre V12 delivers around 560bhp – but when you’re driving it, it doesn’t seem massive. Large, but manageable – even on narrow Cotswolds b-roads.

So luxurious, powerful, massive and deceptively quiet. But that price tag is immense, and I’m not convinced you get any more for your money than you would from a Range Rover… other than the prestige, and you get a lot of that from the Cullinan.

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