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2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan: Going where no Roller has gone before

With a commanding height and real off-road chops, does the Cullinan SUV still offer a proper Rolls-Royce experience?

James Lipman

The Cullinan is Rolls-Royce's highly anticipated entry into the ever-growing world of premium SUVs. Yes, Goodwood's finest are now making their mark in the highly lucrative marketplace of large, all-wheel-drive vehicles, and doing so in a way that's ultra-premium and purely Rolls-Royce.

Built on the same platform as the Phantom VIII, the so-called Architecture of Luxury is flexible enough to accommodate the taller and more rugged Cullinan, albeit with a shorter wheelbase. The Cullinan also shares the same 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that powers its bigger brother.

Now playing: Watch this: Is Cullinan a real Rolls-Royce?

Where it departs, not only from Phantom, but from every Roller that has come before it, is in the experience it offers both the driver and passengers. 

A ride in a Rolls-Royce has always been characterized by isolation from the outside world, providing a cocoon of comfort that can be more pleasant place to while away the time than most living rooms. 

A passenger in the back of a Phantom feels enveloped by metal, glass and leather, alone with their thoughts. A passenger in the Cullinan feels elevated, the large windows providing a glorious and commanding view of the outside world.

The driving experience itself contrasts as well between Cullinan and other Rollers. The Phantom VIII had already introduced a more dynamically handling experience, but the outright softness of the ride always cut the driver off from critical feedback. Cullinan, on the other hand, adds extra weight to the steering feel, better responsiveness from the brakes and generally more feedback from the road. 

It's certainly a less serene experience, but that extra engagement allows the Cullinan to succeed where no other Rolls-Royce has dared before. Off-road the Cullinan can take its owner well beyond the limits of any Rolls-Royce they may have previously owned, yet can tackle a wide variety of tricky terrain with the same ease as driving to the shops. 

Is the Cullinan then really still a proper Rolls-Royce? Carfection took on the enviable task of finding out, in this latest film.