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Rolls-Royce Cullinan to sit below Phantom

High rider: Rolls' first SUV, the Cullinan (left), should slip into the line-up under the recently revealed Phantom sedan with which it shares a platform.

Female buyers the target for Rolls-Royce Cullinan upper-large SUV

29 Sep 2017

ROLLS-ROYCE will aim to create the most luxurious upper-large SUV in the world with its Cullinan, which is confirmed to be shown “soon” and will undercut the $950,000 driveaway pricing of the Phantom when it arrives in Australia.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media reveal of the Phantom in Sydney this week, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris revealed that the Cullinan would not become the British car-maker’s priciest model.

However, whether it would sit far above the $595,000-to-$750,000 driveaway Ghost, Wraith and Dawn range was also a topic, “That is being discussed at the moment”.

“Price wise, I think it all depends on the substance of the product,” Mr Harris said.

“I can’t tell you too much about that at the moment, but it (Cullinan) won’t be as high as Phantom. I don’t think we intend to change that (positioning) whatsoever.

“That’s always been the way, and that will be the way that the brand retains itself.”

With Bentley having launched its Bentayga from between $335,000 and $423,600 plus on-road costs, and a Range Rover SV Autobiography topping out at $316,000, however, Mr Harris suggested the Cullinan would have no rivals.

With Lamborghini still yet to show its forthcoming Urus, which is intended to be a sports-focused model but will share its underpinnings with its Volkswagen Group stablemates the Bentayga and Audi Q7, he also pointed to the competitive advantage of using a platform specific to Rolls-Royce.

“The issue that we have as a Rolls-Royce is that a Rolls-Royce is neither sports or utility,” he continued.

“(But) the advantage with Rolls-Royce is that, with this underlying platform on the car, we don’t have to pay platitudes to platforms. So we have a unique label to do what we need to do, and we go our own direction. I think that gives us a significant advantage.

“The level we’re at in terms of our abilities to make the magic carpet ride so sustainable, the individuality, the bespoke, and the sheer quality of what we do, at the level we do it at, there is an opportunity there, and no one’s in that space. And therefore the look and feel will be significantly different from anything else than in that segment.”

The Cullinan will share its all-aluminium platform – dubbed the Architecture of Luxury – with the eighth-generation Phantom that has just been unveiled locally, and Rolls-Royce has revealed images of a prototype model that takes design inspiration from that sedan range flagship, but with a traditional SUV shape.

Although there has been some criticism of luxury car-makers moving into SUV segments, Mr Harris said that a Rolls-Royce SUV would be able to both move with customer tastes and preserve brand-defining features of other models.

“In terms of global automotive trends, one segment that continually grows is that SUV segment,” he said.

“We’ve always been doing commissions, coach builds for many, many years, and it’s only natural that we move into that (SUV) area, because that’s where our client base has cars, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a car of that nature (and) for us to be in that space makes logical sense.

“(There will be) unique features that are going to come with that car, I can’t tell you too much about that now, but we’ll be very true to our (brand) ethos.

Magic-carpet ride, near-silence, all those things. I think as a real house of luxury we want it to be the most luxurious of its segment.”

Unlike other rear-wheel-drive Rolls-Royce models, however, by offering all-wheel-drive and a higher seating position the Cullinan would also distance itself from a typical Phantom owner and focus more on attracting new, female buyers.

“It would have all-wheel drive, so that gives it more flexibility to go everywhere,” Mr Harris said.

“Will it have the same flexibility as something that’s more agricultural? I wouldn’t think so. But it would still be quite competent. It (will have a) higher seating position of course, and that majesty in dominance of height and position is the thing that people are really fascinated in.

“In that segment of luxury high-sided, go-everywhere vehicles, the lady driver mix is very high (and) our richness of lady drivers is coming much stronger. So that’s where we think we would have an opportunity in that area, as well.”

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is currently being tested in the Middle East before an expected unveiling early next year.

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