While I will be the very first to admit that diamonds are often a girl’s best friend, nowhere perhaps is this truer than with the ultra-luxury Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV. It is no secret that Rolls-Royce is the benchmark for luxury wheels. But with the Cullinan SUV, adventure afficionados happily have a perfect marriage of ultra-luxury and sublime silence, regardless of terrain, crowds, or traffic. And who couldn’t use more luxury and perhaps even more importantly, more silence in this increasingly noisy world?
Appropriately named after the world’s largest gem-quality diamond discovered in 1905 in South Africa weighing in at just over 3,106 carats prior to cleaving – most of which are now part of the British Royal Collection – the Cullinan stole my heart at first sight. And though my husband knows I most certainly appreciate the everlasting carbon variety, my truest sparkling love – and dare I say lust – of the material variety is the shining diamond manufactured not by Mother Earth, but the one produced by the creative and engineering geniuses at Rolls-Royce.
This love was just a mere twinkle in my eye in 2018 when I flew to Jackson Hole, WY for the U.S. debut of the company’s first all-terrain, all-wheel drive 2019 Cullinan SUV. Laying eyes on the Cullinan there for the first time I said, “it was more regal than ought to be legal.” That sense of majesty only increased when I got behind the wheel of that Cullinan to descend off-road at Jackson Hole’s steep Snow King Mountain amid snow, ice and jagged rocks. Having also off-roaded the 2020 Cullinan SUV through hilly vineyards of eastern San Diego County, driven a 2021 Cullinan with Shooting Star Headliner through jam-packed Los Angeles freeways, and to and throughout California’s central coast region in pouring rain that included a plethora of winding country roads, my slogan remains today a gospel truth. Without a doubt, the Cullinan is an absolute automotive gem. A titillating trifecta of physical beauty, grace and elegance buttressed by performance prowess and an immensely powerful finessed dexterity, both on and off-road.
Though of course there are several other ultra-luxury SUVs, any I’ve driven many of them, but the list of what the Cullinan gets just right for SUV loving drivers is simply longer, with a more luxurious and better ride. There is the curated artistry of the interior, massage seating for driver and front passenger providing undeniable comfort, elevated seating for rear passengers and the utterly expansive interior. Then of course there is the ethereal silence resulting from the electronic shock absorbers and over 200-pounds of sound insulation, including inside the tires, and dual-paned window glass that together produce a near spiritual silence regardless of what’s transpiring outside or driving surface. And if you feel like channeling your inner Sir Elton John as you careen down the highways and byways of life, the 18-perfectly-placed speakers in its bespoke audio system will probably make even the most debutant vocalist a singing sensation, at least while alone behind the wheel.
The versatility of the Cullinan is what truly makes it remarkable. Whether traveling through clogging city traffic while sitting pretty and uber comfortable engaging in serious schlepping or stealth shopping, or speeding along the highway enjoying the Cullinan’s twin-turbo charged 6.75-litre V-12 engine that goes from zero to 60 miles-per-hour five seconds, it’s all pure bliss. Then when ready to enjoy the great outdoors off-road, all one does is push a mere button. This is Rolls-Royce’s first all-wheel-drive system and regardless of terrain – and I’ve driven the Cullinan in pretty much everything other than Middle-Eastern sand dunes – the ride is as smooth as silk.
In 2019 when I spoke with Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös in Jackson Hole, he said that despite the then $325,000 price tag – today it starts about $336,000 – he had “a very strong expectation of market success as the company is seeing new and different types of buyers in the ultra-luxury market,” including those who are very active and with families. Not only did it turn out that Müller-Ötvös’ expectation was correct, he was apparently also clairvoyant. Rolls-Royce recently announced it has delivered the highest-ever annual sales results in the marque’s 117-year history with high demand for all Rolls-Royce models, particularly the Ghost and no surprise, the Cullinan.
Not a company to rest on its laurels, Rolls-Royce also recently announced its headway into the production of the marque’s first all-electric car, the Spectre, with a timeline for bringing it to market by the fourth quarter of 2023. Saying that I cannot wait to drive the Spectre would be like saying it often gets a bit chilly in Antarctica.
If one is seeking a true automotive gem encased in the ultimate ultra-luxury SUV, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a masterpiece. Seriously sexy, fun to drive and a powerful performer with style and grace. First call your accountant then call Rolls-Royce. Happy driving!