UPDATE (15/5/18): Rolls-Royce's local division has confirmed the Cullinan will arrive in the third quarter from $685,000 drive-away.
It's finally here – the Rolls-Royce Cullinan has been revealed, becoming the first 'high-sided' vehicle (or in other words, SUV) the British marque has ever made.
Described as "effortless, everywhere", the Cullinan is claimed to be the "most technologically advanced" and "only purpose-built luxury SUV in the world" – we wonder what Range Rover or Bentley would have to say about that.
"Whilst the majority of so-called luxury manufacturers are limited to sharing platforms with mass brands for their SUVs, and so introducing unacceptable compromise," the company says in its press release, clearly taking aim at the likes of Bentley and Lamborghini.
The Cullinan's spaceframe is higher and shorter than its limousine equivalent, measuring 5341mm long, 2164mm wide and 1835mm tall with a 3295mm wheelbase. Up front is a double wishbone axle, while a five-link setup features at the rear, which the company says helps to deliver "astounding" levels of control over lateral roll and shear forces.
The Cullinan features four-wheel steering for improved agility and manoeuvrability, while also sporting the company's latest air suspension system to deliver Rolls-Royce's signature 'Magic Carpet Ride'.
Power comes from the familiar 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 seen in the new Phantom, though in this application pumping out 420kW of power and 850Nm of torque (down 50Nm) – the latter available from just 1600rpm – sent to all four wheels (a first for Rolls-Royce) via a ZF eight-speed automatic.
Rolls-Royce does not quote a 0-100km/h time for the Cullinan, though it will hit an electrically-limited top speed of 250km/h. Not bad for a 2.6-tonne apartment on wheels (unladen).
In terms of design, the Cullinan is instantly recognisable as a Roller, thanks to that upright, imposing face featuring the signature Pantheon grille flanked by slim headlights with 'eyebrow' LED daytime-running lights.
The squared-off body and muscular proportions continue to the rear, with the rump featuring upright narrow tail-light units that echo the look of the company's wider range.
Exposed metal tailpipes stick out from each side of the rear bumper, which Rolls-Royce says reinforce the Cullinan's "power and ability".
Filling the arches are massive 22-inch alloy wheels – Rolls-Royce is very big on wheel-to-body ratio.
The cabin is typical Rolls-Royce too, which is to be expected really. Lashings of leather, wood and metal adorn every surface, though the overall design itself looks like it was basically lifted from the Phantom.
However, the steering wheel is thicker and smaller than that of the limousine, which the company says reiterates the fact that the Cullinan is a "driver's car" – more in the sense that owners will actually drive their vehicle rather than be driven in it.
Drivers have two main displays to refer to, the digital driver's display – which shows everything from speed and rev counter to cruise control, navigation and driver assistance systems – while the central infotainment screen is touch sensitive.
Unique to the Cullinan is the Spirit of Ecstasy controller nestled in the centre console, which is bundles with the 'Everywhere' button (on/off-road mode selector), hill descent control button and air suspension controls.
At the rear, two second-row seat specifications are offered – the Lounge Seat or Individual Seats. The Lounge Seat is your conventional three-seat bench, which also offers 40/20/40 folding.
Meanwhile, the Individual Seats (pictured) offer the familiar Rolls-Royce limousine experience, with the centre pew replaced by a fixed centre console incorporating a drinks cabinet – including Rolls-Royce whiskey glasses, decanter, champagne flutes and a cool box. The two individual chairs also adjust in "a number of planes" for the highest level of comfort.
Behind the second row, the Cullinan boasts a 560-litre boot area, which measures 600L with the parcel shelf removed. Folding the rear seats in Lounge specification expands to 1930L, with the load area itself measuring 2245mm – Rolls-Royce says the Cullinan has a longer load length than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, Volvo V90 and the long-wheelbase Range Rover.
As previewed in the Cullinan's series of teasers, the vehicle can be optioned with the Viewing Suite, involving a pair of fold-out rear-facing leather chairs and a cocktail table – perfect for viewing sporting events like the polo, or the butler walking your dog.
Driver and convenience technology abounds in the Cullinan, with surround cameras, night-vision cameras with wildlife and pedestrian warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane-departure and lane-change warning, an 'industry-leading' 7x3 head-up display, WiFi hotspot, along with the latest in navigation and entertainment systems.
There's also five USB ports, a wireless phone charger, and a dual-screen rear entertainment system on offer.
Rolls-Royce has gone to lengths to improve occupant comfort as well, with heated surfaces on the steering wheel, front door armrests, front centre console lid, lower C-pillar, rear side armrests (Individual Seats), and the rear centre armrest.
Finally, in a first for a 'three-box' vehicle (SUV), the Cullinan features a glass partition to isolate the passenger cabin from the luggage compartment, which the company says reduces cabin noise and also allows for better regulation of cabin temperature.
Ian Grant, Rolls Royce's regional sales manager, said: "We will launch with various packages on a base price for Australia starting from $685,000 drive-away.
By comparison, the W12-engined Bentley Bentayga kicks off at $427,300 before on-road costs and options.
Specific timing is still to be confirmed, though the company has indicated a third quarter release for the Cullinan.