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Rolls-Royce Tests Engineering Prototype for Future SUV

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/7/2015 Kelly Pleskot

Not two months have passed since Rolls-Royce announced it will build its first SUV -- or as Rolls calls it, its new "high-bodied car" -- and development on the new model is already underway. Rolls-Royce says it will begin testing an engineering prototype called Project Cullinan on public roads this week.


The mule, based on a shortened Phantom Series II body, may give clues as to the size of the final model. From what we can see, it looks like the new model falls in between the Ghost and the larger Phantom in terms of size. Rear doors are smaller than those on the original Phantom, while the wheelbase is about the same as on the Phantom Coupe. The mule also gains quad exhaust pipes, but the photos reveal another major detail: two front bumper intakes not found on the Phantom appear on this mule, likely inlets for a pair of intercoolers. What does that mean? There's a good chance the upcoming model will feature the twin-turbo 6.6-liter V-12 borrowed from the Wraith and Ghost. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Despite these strong impressions, Rolls-Royce made it very clear that Cullinan doesn't share any exterior style elements with the future vehicle. Instead, the automaker created the mule to test out an all-wheel-drive-specific suspension for use in the new model. Rolls-Royce will examine Cullinan's on-road behavior across all types of road surfaces, including Belgian Pavé, cobblestones, corrugated concrete, noise development surfaces, and acceleration bumps. Since Rolls-Royce promises an "all-terrain" vehicle, the mule will also be put to the test in off-road situations.

The automaker's ultimate goal is to use what it learns to develop a complete all-wheel drive system with a ride that is as smooth on the road as it is off the beaten path. As we previously reported, Rolls-Royce's all-wheel drive technology will not only be used on the new model but may also trickle down to other cars including the Ghost, Wraith, and Wraith convertible. © Provided by MotorTrend

Being a company ruled by tradition, Rolls-Royce isn't ready to call this model an SUV yet. Instead, the British marquee insists it's a "high-sided, all-terrain motor car." Perhaps this model will have more of a car-like body than the Bentley Bentayga or other ultra-luxury SUVs, or maybe Rolls-Royce just prefers to call it what it wants. There's no word on when we can expect the final version, but we think it will come late to the game compared to the Bentayga, Maserati Levante, and maybe even the Lamborghini Urus.

As far as price, we think the new model will hover around the $400,000 mark. That means that just like in terms of size, the new SUV also splits the difference between the Ghost and Phantom in terms of price. Rolls-Royce is hitting a whole other market with this strategy, which could further differentiate it from some of the competition. "While the Bentley Bentayga is the answer to the problem that you can't spend more than $200,000 on an SUV, the Cullinan is the answer to the $400,000 SUV question," senior features editor Jonny Lieberman asserted.

Source: Rolls-Royce

Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV prototype testing© Provided by MotorTrend Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV prototype testing

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