What Car? says...
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is aimed at anyone who finds the go-to posh luxury SUVs a little too commonplace. Taking its name from the largest diamond ever discovered – one that graces the Crown Jewels – the Cullinan sits on 22in alloy wheels and presents a dominating silhouette.
There’s only one engine option, but it’s arguably all you’ll ever need: the same 6.75-litre petrol V12 that’s found in the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Plus, there is, of course, a brochure full of colours, upholsteries and options to choose from, and if you have enough money in your bank account, Rolls-Royce will fit pretty much anything else that takes your fancy.
Read on to see if this helps the Rolls-Royce Cullinan justify its huge price premium over every other SUV on sale. We'll cover performance and handling, running costs (possibly not a big deal if you're thinking of getting a Roller), practicality and more.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Cullinan weighs more than 2.6 tonnes. Yet thanks to its mighty V12 engine and slick eight-speed automatic gearbox, acceleration feels effortless – 0-62mph takes just 5.2sec, which is as fast as plenty of hot hatches can manage.
Ride comfort is generally very impressive, too, with the Cullinan appearing to float over bumps at higher speeds. However, while it continues to feel pretty supple in town, it can shimmy around a bit over patched-up surfaces.
Some bumps also cause the steering wheel to shudder in your hands, but it’s light and easy to turn, and it lets you place the car accurately.
Just don’t expect the Cullinan to handle with the agility of the Bentley Bentayga – there’s a fair bit of body sway in corners and the nose dives under hard braking.
Instead, the Cullinan is all about helping you get to your destination feeling completely relaxed, and this is an area in which it surpasses every other luxury SUV you can get.
Its engine is so smooth and quiet at idle that you find yourself questioning whether it’s even running. What’s more, it remains eerily hushed on the move.
True, the Cullinan’s big tyres generate a bit of road noise at times, but this isn’t overbearing, and wind noise it remarkably well controlled – particularly when you consider that this is a car with a front that looks as big as Buckingham Palace.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Even though the Cullinan lowers itself by 40mm to aid access, you have to climb up into it. However, the payoff is the sort of forward view usually reserved for HGV drivers.
This is combined with surprisingly good rear visibility, thanks to the large, deep windows all round, while sensors and cameras further aid manoeuvring.
As for the interior itself, it’s a wonderful mix of the traditional and the modern.
Huge slabs of wood and expertly stitched, soft leathers sit alongside a BMW sourced infotainment system that sets the standard for usability and somehow doesn’t feel out of place. The only slight disappointment is some inconsistent panel gaps.
Meanwhile, the driver’s seat and steering wheel adjust every which way – electrically, of course – to ensure people of all sizes can get comfortable.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The rear of the Cullinan feels every bit as special as the front, from the ‘coach’ doors that open backwards to create a wider aperture (before closing electrically), to the fact that you can stretch your legs without any danger of getting close to the seat in front.
Buyers can specify a conventional three-seat layout or two individual reclining chairs that are bisected by a long centre console containing a drinks cabinet and a fridge.
What’s more, Rolls-Royce offers a glass partition that separates the luggage area from the passengers to shield them from outside temperatures when the boot is open.
As for the boot itself, this features a handy Range Rover style split tailgate. However, while the capacity is far from small, at 560 litres, the space does narrow dramatically between the wheel arches, limiting what you can carry.
If you go for the three-seat layout, the rear seats can be folded flat to increase the load space – a first on any Rolls-Royce, although a common sight in the luxury SUV market. And while there’s initially a step up to the folded seats, the boot floor can be raised electrically to form a long, uninterrupted platform, which Rolls-Royce says could be used for transporting art. Well, obviously.
Options include the so-called recreation module – a series of boxes that can be loaded into the Cullinan's boot with different activity equipment. For example, one box might contain a couple of deckchairs and a folding table, while another has the kit required for playing polo.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Nobody on a budget buys a new Rolls-Royce, so the fact that the Cullinan’s quarter-of-a-million-pound starting price makes even the Bentley Bentayga look cheap is unlikely to put people off.
Similarly, insurance and servicing costs will be huge, and it averages fuel economy of just 18.8mpg in official tests, but of more relevance to potential buyers is likely to be the Bentayga’s superior range between fuel stops.
The Cullinan’s extensive list of standard features includes heated and ventilated seats, lambswool floor mats, a head-up display, five USB ports and tables and touchscreens for those in the rear. Meanwhile, the only real limit when it comes to options is your imagination.
One that’s definitely worth considering, however, is the trademark Rolls-Royce starlight rooflining, which uses dozens of embedded fibre-optic lights to effect the night sky.
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|RRP price range||£315,460 - £359,260|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||17.3 - 18.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||4 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£23,147 / £26,388|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£46,294 / £52,777|