In 1999, the BMW Group rolled the dice with an SUV—BMW called it a Sports Activity Vehicle—the BMW X5. It turned out to be the right move for BMW’s bottom line as almost 20 years later, BMW X vehicles are a significant portion of the company’s total sales. Now it appears that the BMW Group will use the same strategy to increase sales in another of its companies, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

We’ve known about the Rolls-Royce SUV for about three years now. The original project code name of the new vehicle—Cullinan—was also not a secret but it was never official that it would be the name of the new Rolls SUV. It is now. Rolls-Royce has confirmed that Cullinan is the actual name of its new uber-luxurious on-and-off-roader.

“The name Cullinan has been hiding in plain sight since we revealed it as the project name some years ago,” comments Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce. “It is the most fitting name for our extraordinary new product. Cullinan is a motor car of such clarity of purpose, such flawless quality and preciousness, and such presence that it recalibrates the scale and possibility of true luxury. Just like the Cullinan Diamond, the largest flawless diamond ever found, it emerges when it is perfect and exists above all others.”

The original Cullinan Diamond was really big. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is really big, but also fairly agile. It has been tested in African and Middle Eastern deserts, North American mountains, Scottish glens, and frozen lands above the Arctic Circle. Rolls-Royce likens its development to the original Cullinan’s formation and then the planning and care that went into cutting and polishing it into a number of flawless gemstones.

“We were inspired by the epic processes, over many millennia, which went into the creation of the Cullinan Diamond. The name embodies the many facets of our new motor car’s promise. It speaks of endurance and absolute solidity in the face of the greatest pressures; it tells of rarity and preciousness and it alludes to the pioneering, adventurous spirit of The Hon. Charles Rolls and the engineering innovation of Sir Henry Royce; and, of course, it speaks of absolute luxury, wherever you venture in the world” continued Müller-Ötvös.

After the new eighth-generation Phantom, the Cullinan will be the second vehicle to use Rolls-Royce’s all-new proprietary aluminum spaceframe it calls the “Architecture of Luxury.”

Müller-Ötvös concluded: “Quite simply, the name Cullinan is perfect and brilliant.”

By the way, the Cullinan Diamond came out of a South African mine in 1905. It weighed 3,106 carats and was then the largest diamond ever found and still holds that record to this day. The original Cullinan Diamond was cut into nine stones. Every once in a while on special occasions, you can see the two largest of the stones. One of them is part of the British Imperial Crown, and the other is in the British sovereign’s royal Scepter with Cross. So the next time you see Queen Elizabeth II wearing the crown jewels, look for two big diamonds.

We haven’t seen uncamouflaged photos or videos yet of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, but these pictures—not spy photos since Rolls-Royce took and released them—show the vehicle’s lines fairly clearly and it already has a flying lady on the hood.

Bentley’s Bentayga is probably the Cullinan’s most immediate competition. Later this year BMW will reveal its new BMW X7 Sports Activity Vehicle that may approach the Cullinan in size. Even though the X7 is rumored to have two versions—premium and super luxurious—the price points will be far enough apart so that the X7 should not directly challenge the Cullinan.

There was a time in the early part of the 20th century when Rolls-Royce was known not just for the most luxurious automobiles, but also for vehicles that would spend all their time off-road in very inhospitable terrain under very inhospitable situations. Those Rolls-Royces did very well and were in fact, the vehicle of choice among a few hardy souls operating far from home. Just ask T.E. Lawrence—of Arabia. The new Cullinan may not spend much time off-road but if it does, it could make for a very hospitable experience.—Scott Blazey

 [Photos courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.]



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