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Rolls-Royce SUV unveiled in preview pics

By raccars Published

Rolls Royce

Brand’s first SUV shown in official preview shots ahead of expected 2018 launch.

Preview pictures have been released showing the first ever Rolls-Royce SUV and the company says that its development has now entered the public road testing phase.

The SUV, which is codenamed Project Cullinan, is expected to be launched in 2018. Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said that the brand had reached a very ‘exciting moment’ in the development of Project Cullinan, both for the brand and for its global army of fans.

He said that the Cullinan’s ‘architecture of luxury’ and new four-wheel-drive system will be instrumental in the creation of an ‘authentic Rolls-Royce’ with the ability to follow in the footsteps of its forbears and set the standard by which other luxury goods will be judged.

Global testing regime for SUV

Rolls-Royce engineers are now putting the SUV prototype through a series of tests around the world and just after Christmas, the Cullinan will be taken to the Arctic Circle to undergo cold weather testing. This will be followed later in the year by desert and heat endurance testing in the Middle East, it is believed.

The English luxury car maker first announced that it would be building what it terms its ‘high-bodied car’ during February last year. Last April, Rolls-Royce showed off its production mule, which was based upon its Phantom limousine. This was created in order to allow for the testing of the Cullinan’s new four-wheel-drive system and all-aluminium chassis.

Rolls-Royce is one of several high-end brands to make a foray into the lucrative SUV segment. The likes of the Maserati Levante, Jaguar F-Pace and Bentley Bentayga are already available to buy and the Lamborghini Urus is believed to be on its way shortly.

The Cullinan is being described as a high-sided, all-terrain vehicle and teaser shots of its prototype shows a design which is very like other Rolls-Royce models but with a higher ride height and extended roofline.

'Effortless' expectations

Test mules of the Cullinan have been on the roads for more than a year but the brand is now entering the model’s prototype stage, meaning that vehicles will be sent around the world to ensure that the final SUV will prove to be ‘effortless’ in any conditions.

Underpinning the Cullinan is the new spaceframe architecture from Rolls-Royce, which will also be used on an eighth-generation, redesigned Phantom. The lightweight structure is also expected to be used on up-coming iterations of the Dawn, Wraith and Ghost.

Both the Cullinan and the redesigned Phantom are due for release in 2018 but it has not been confirmed which will make it onto the market first. It is most likely to be the Phantom, however, as the flagship limousine's development is known to have reached a more advanced testing stage.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom

The nameplate of the Rolls-Royce Phantom dates back to 1925, although the current seventh-generation model has been around since 2003. The Phantom has undergone virtually no changes over the last 13 years but the eighth-generation model is expected to be an all-new car.

The exterior looks set to be a modern version of a typical Rolls-Royce but will be underpinned by the new aluminium architecture. Inside, widescreen displays are a particular feature as there is even one which takes the place of a conventional analogue instrument panel.

It is believed that the new Phantom will have a V12 engine sourced by BMW, although it looks set to share the twin turbo N74 with the Ghost instead of making use of the current naturally-aspirated N73 unit.

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