It's here: we drive the Rolls-Royce Cullinan on home turf
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It’s the world’s most luxurious SUV, and the most expensive, and now potential Kiwi buyers are the first in Asia-Pacific to drive the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
Revealed to the media and potential customers this week at the Parihoa estate northwest of Auckland, the Cullinan is priced from $505,000 for the five-seater and $535,000 for the four seat version.
Named after the largest diamond discovered, now part of the British Crown Jewels, Cullinan is Rolls-Royce’s first high-bodied, all-wheel drive.
It is powered by a 6.75-litre twin turbo V12 engine that produces 420kW of power and 850Nm of torque at 1600rpm. It has a top speed of 250km/h and goes from 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds.
The Cullinan is 5341mm long, 2164mm wide and 1835mm high with a weight of 2600kg unladen.
Rolls-Royce showed the Cullinan’s two cabin configurations — Individual or Lounge seats. The five-seater Lounge variant’s suitable for a family on an extremely posh school run, with electrically assisted one-touch fold-down seat operation for the first time in a Rolls-Royce.
The two rear seats Individual configuration has a fixed rear centre console with the option to incorporate a drinks cabinet with Rolls-Royce whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator. It adds a glass partition isolating the passenger cabin from the luggage compartment, creating a silent cabin for the occupants.
The Individual model had an exterior of darkest tungsten with an Arctic white interior while the Lounge version was gunmetal with a mugello red/black interior.
I was the first journalist in Asia-Pacific to drive a road-registered Cullinan (with a colleague just seconds behind). We left Parihoa for a half-hour circuit around Muriwai, including gravel surfaces, narrow country lanes, and 100km/h open roads where we could test the V12 engine.
For such a heavy vehicle, the Cullinan was surprisingly nimble, but this SUV isn’t built for short spurts.
It’s a long road trip vehicle that combines all the classic Rolls-Royce functions and styling with modern safety technology.
In New Zealand for the launch of the Cullinan was Rolls-Royce global client sales manager, Ian Grant, based in Singapore. We spoke to him about the luxury SUV.
What are you doing in Auckland over the next couple of days?
We’ve got the first drive in Asia-Pacific for Cullinan. We have a number of journalists, from automotive through to luxury lifestyle, coming through. Also, we have the first customer drives of Cullinan.
It’s exciting for us and, to say the first drive, this is absolutely genuine. Outside the drives you’ve seen happening in the US, this is the first Asia-Pacific driving we’ve done, and the first Cullinans on the road here in New Zealand.
What’s your expectation for the Cullinan? Who’s the customer?
It’s been very interesting for us. The customers of Rolls-Royce are very, very loyal. But what we’re seeing globally, is around 50 per cent take up for new customers, conquest business to us. So it’s exciting, it’s introducing us to a new breed of customer, which is wonderful to see.
Of course, it’s a family-orientated vehicle. It’s got everything a Rolls-Royce should deliver. Plus that acceptability factor, for the school run or something you might do. Actually, Auckland’s a lovely example of where the car could be used.
You could be down in the bustling CBD on your business arrangements, then coming out to a property such as this one, where the car is more than able, more than capable to manage both terrains.
One of the progressive things we see about the New Zealand market is that they’re early adopters. So when we launched Dawn, which we worked together on, early orders came in New Zealand.
When we launched Phantom and Black Badge, and now Cullinan, early orders are coming in. I think that shows the New Zealand customer is really interested to buy the next quality item that comes to the market. That’s something we appreciate about the market here.
It’s one of most anticipated launches of Rolls-Royce we’ve done. When the car was launched globally earlier in the year, I think it took many people’s breath away. How do you make a Rolls-Royce an SUV? And I think we’ve really delivered on becoming the Rolls-Royce of SUVs.