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Cullinan to lift Rolls-Royce

High rider: The Cullinan will have off-road ability, according to Rolls-Royce executives, even if its owners never venture off the beaten track.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan ‘everywhere vehicle’ will have real off-road capability

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Rolls-Royce logo27 Nov 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

ROLLS-ROYCE’S forthcoming SUV, the Cullinan, is likely to become the marque’s top seller when it arrives later this decade, and it is expected to be popular amongst Australian buyers.

Little is known about the high-riding wagon, but Rolls released images of a prototype mule in April undergoing testing for the all-wheel drive suspension that used the shortened body of a Phantom sedan.

While the Cullinan is being described as punters as an SUV, Rolls-Royce is more keen on the term “everywhere vehicle”.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris said he was “absolutely” excited about the prospects of the Cullinan in the Australian market, but shied away from the SUV tag.

“There are certain markets around the region where you know it will fit very much,” he told GoAuto at the Melbourne launch of the Dawn drop-top.

“The issue we have got is that I think the terminology of SUV, which is quite difficult for Rolls-Royce because we are neither ‘sport’ nor ‘utility’. We are in a very luxurious segment.”

Mr Harris said the Cullinan will have off-road ability, but was unsure if buyers would use it for that purpose.

“It will be capable, but not agricultural,” he said.

“The car will be capable to go everywhere, that’s the whole principle, but whether or not the Australian wealthy use it that way or not I don’t know. But it will give them an extra comfort blanket for knowing they could if they needed to.”

50 center imageLeft: Rolls-Royce Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris.In terms of global sales and whether it could become the British marque’s top-selling model, Mr Harris said the car-maker had dome “some analysis” on that and acknowledged the growth in the SUV segment.

He said the Rolls-Royce production facility in Goodwood was flexible and could handle additions to the schedule, and predicted that the Cullinan would be a popular choice among well-heeled buyers.

“We operate in an order-based production system that is very flexible so it doesn’t really matter so much, but of course we have to plan to a level,” he said. “We think it will be a significant share of our business in the future.”

The Cullinan will be built on an all-aluminium architecture being developed in-house, which Mr Harris said will ensure it maintains Rolls’ famous silky smooth ride.

“The platform will give us more flexibility to be more true to Rolls-Royce, in terms of Rolls-Royce uniqueness and absolute dedication to ride quality,” he said.

Mr Harris added that it was “highly likely” that all future Rolls-Royce models will be underpinned by all-aluminium architecture.

The Cullinan will be beaten to market by a number of other ultra-luxury SUVs including the Bentley Bentayga that arrives in Australia from May next year, while Maserati’s still yet-to-be-seen Levante should emerge in about 2017.

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