Monday, December 3, 2018


If you are among those who think the rising popularity of SUVs/crossovers and the decline of the family sedan is the coming of the end of the world, I have some bad news for you.

In what could be interpreted as confirmation of the impending apocalypse, Rolls-Royce has brought an SUV to the market.

Yes, Rolls-Royce, the manufacturer of the ultimate luxury sedan, has heard the wishes of its loyal followers and brought forth an all-wheel-drive, off-road capable, five-passenger  ... SUV.

South Florida automotive media members, of which I am one, got a look at this creation last week at the monthly luncheon of the Southern Automotive Media Association.

Gerry Spahn, head of communications for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, was here to preview it, appropriately enough, at the Acqualina Resort and Spa, a South Florida luxury oceanside resort in Sunny Isles Beach just north of Miami Beach.

The vehicle is branded the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. with the name taken from the Cullinan Diamond, the world’s largest, gem-quality diamond ever found. It was discovered in 1905 at a mine in Cullinan, South Africa, and named after the mine’s chairman, Thomas Cullinan.

I’ll resist the temptation here to call the Rolls-Royce Cullinan a “gem” of an SUV, but apparently Spahn couldn’t, referring to it as a “dynamic, moveable gem” during introductions. Spahn noted that the Cullinan sits atop of the food chain when it comes to luxury SUVs, and it’s hard to argue with that.

About the only thing it doesn’t have is three-row seating because, well, Rolls-Royce customers didn’t want it and Rolls-Royce customers get what they want. Or, in this case, don’t want.

Based on architecture of the Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan, the Cullinan comes with a 6.75-liter V12 engine rated at 563 horsepower with 627 pound-feet of torque kicking in at 1600 rpm. That kind of power is needed when you have nearly three tons of bulk to haul around,. (Alas, we could only look and touch the Cullinan, not drive it!)

Though shorter than the Phantom, the Cullinan is larger than what could be considered its only competitor, Bentley’s Bentayga, which has been around for a couple of years.

A very much a refined vehicle that features such niceties a “rear viewing suite” on the split tailgate featuring a small table (for holding champagne glasses) and jump seats for two (the better for viewing polo matches), the Cullinan is no pretender when it comes to off-road treks.

Pushing the button on the console marked “off-road” makes all the adjustments necessary for the Cullinan to take on the most-challenging tests. At the global premier a few weeks back in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, journalists had the opportunity to take the Cullinan to the summit of the 7,800-foot Snow King Mountain (and presumably back down).

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine taking such a beautiful vehicle into such conditions, and I doubt if many Rolls owners actually will. But they can do so if they want.

The Cullinan starts with a base MSRP of $325,000 but extras can take the Cullinan much higher.

But I have a tip that can get you one free.

Simply buy the move-in-ready “Palazzo del Cielo” Penthouse suite at the Acqualina Resort. The Cullinan is included in the suite’s $38 million price tag, and a full garage will be available right across Collins Avenue.

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