“It’s the primary Rolls-Royce that looks better grimy,” says the logo’s CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, as he overlooks a small fleet of the marque’s first SUV model, dubbed Cullinan—the three automobiles suitably caked in mud and dust from a daylong romp round Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. “It’s an exceptional departure for the brand.”
Cullinan, named for the largest gem-nice difficult diamond ever discovered, nominally begins at $325,000, however, no Rolls-Royce is introduced in its base form: One can upload tens if now not loads of hundreds of bucks to the charge in bespoke paint, leather, woodwork, or custom cabinetry.
That’s all inside the service of distinguishing it from luxurious SUV segment leader Range Rover, whose offerings have grown an increasing number of grand in latest years however can’t touch the opulence of its rival from Goodwood. If all and sundry changed into going to be the “Rolls-Royce of SUVs,” it became going to be Rolls-Royce.
While Cullinan will no question locate its manner into the valet lots of Beverly Hills and Bahrain, it’s built for an awful lot greater.
“For the primary time, Rolls-Royce is the usage of phrases like sensible, purposeful, and versatile,” Müller-Ötvös says. “You can place the circle of relatives in, take your puppies, pass fly-fishing—something you want. It can be even grimy for a couple of days—no trouble.”
Cullinan’s overall performance credentials are reinforced by means of its 563-horsepower, dual-faster V12 engine from determining organization BMW and an “off-avenue” button that facilitates the auto glide over hard terrain as the suspension works double time below.
Rolls-Royce is a latecomer to the particularly profitable luxury SUV marketplace. One via one, manufacturers that specialized for the higher a part of a century in top-class sports activities cars and chauffeured saloons have bowed to recent stress to maintain clients who want taller vehicles from defecting to rival brands.
Their efforts were rewarded. The Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, and Maserati Levante have vaulted to bestseller fame within their respective manufacturers. Aston Martin expects its DBX crossover to assist double the brand’s global income once it arrives later this 12 months. Consumer hobby is not likely to flag. Tall motors have long considering the fact that graduated from the new every day to the norm.
Rolls-Royce, which sells just four,000 motors every yr, is anticipating comparable results. Still, the stakes for introducing an SUV are high, says spokesman Richard Carter. “If you promote four,000 cars in line with year, and also you get it wrong, you can in no time promote 1,000 a yr.”
For his part, Müller-Ötvös says he isn’t interested in income quantity. “The ultimate element I want to talk approximately is volume,” he notes. “Volume is the contradiction of luxurious. It’s the last aspect clients want to hear. I don’t need to look a Rolls-Royce on each road nook.”
He does no longer like to speak about the opposition, either, putting forward as an alternative that there are masses of room within the market. “It’s not a lot that our competition is with other cars,” he says, adding that customers are likelier to weigh the purchase of a brand new Rolls-Royce against that of a boat or a chunk of art. “If they want both, they purchase each.”
When creating Cullinan, the Rolls-Royce design crew asked themselves: Is there any history in any way that would permit us to make an SUV? They quickly realized they may draw idea from the excessive strolling forums of the WWI-era Silver Ghost and the fashion designer cloth cabinet trunks strapped to the rear of Twenties Phantoms.
They emerged with a boxy, angular layout providing brief overhangs that hint at off-street robustness and a commanding perch. Unfussy sufficient for a proprietor to turn down the rear seats to toss in a riding tack or shotgun cases, yet with the precision in craftsmanship expected of a Rolls.
Already, Rolls-Royce is seeing the auto resonate with clients new to the brand, along with women and millennials. And whilst orders are rising in Rolls-Royce’s largest North American markets—California and Florida—the ruggedness and 4-wheel power are prompting an uptick in orders from Canada, New England, and the Rockies. Says Müller-Ötvös: “It is beginning new garages for us.”