Ian Lamming feels royally flushed in the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
EYES wide, mouth open, the tiny schoolboy looks up in awe at the top of the pantheon grille.
“Look mummy, this car has an angel on the bonnet.” Smiling warmly his mother asks the diminutive car fan: “And who do you think might own a car like this?” “The Queen,” he answers emphatically.
Well I may not be the Queen but driving the Rolls-Royce does leave me thinking regally and, if not a royal, certainly feeling like a celebrity.
This Rolls-Royce, in fact any Rolls-Royce, is so much more than a car and has to be treated accordingly. No other car, no brand, no product, can rival the Spirit of Ecstasy which rises majestically from its ne’er-do-well-thwarting hiding place in the top of the radiator when you unlock the doors.
For the price of the average Roller you could buy a nice house or two Bentleys and that is absolutely the whole point.
Rolls-Royces are in a class of one. They build monoliths that can only be afforded by the rich. To sit behind the wheel is a privilege and people peer and stare to see who you are – as long as you are in the car on your own, otherwise you just look like the chauffeur.
Cullinan, named after the biggest diamond in the world, is the latest Rolls-Royce to hit the road and off it. Yes, will wonders never cease, it is the company’s first all-terrain vehicle and its impact on the world is mind-blowing.
Cullinan is whopping, vast, gargantuan, immense and in all my days I have never seen such a response from the public, particularly in the school car park.
Bystanders flock, they mob me and the car, taking selfies galore, poring over the exterior and analysing inside.
‘Look, the back doors open the other way’, look, it’s got a lead crystal whisky decanter and engraved glasses in the armrest’, look it’s got a fridge for the Bollinger and a couple of Champagne flutes’, they cry. And it has.
‘Ooh, look at the pale blue leather and the wood veneer and those carpets are better than in our house’, they exclaim. And they are…I’ve been to their house!
‘Wow TV screens and trays pop out of the back of the front seats and the DVDs play in cinematic surround sound – awesome’! ‘The back seats move and recline electrically and there are blinds on the windows – unbelievable’! And it is.
Every aspect of this car is mind-shredding in its opulence and attention to detail. It alters people’s views of life and makes them smile. Strangers approach and within seconds become friends. Other road users doff their virtual caps in deference and in many cases pull over to allow you free passage. I have never experienced anything like it. This Rolls-Royce is not a car it is a statement, an experience, an event.
But hang on, I’m a professional, an experienced motoring hack and immune to these sorts of fripperies. It takes more than power, exclusivity and quality build to woo and wow me…but it’s got an angel on the grille and it pops out when you open the doors, for goodness sake!
The interior is also wonderfully retro, not old fashioned, but deliberately designed with heritage in mind. Switches and knobs abound and the airvents come with chrome plungers – lovely.
Cullinan is the only SUV with a separate passenger environment, its rear cabin being completely sealed from the luggage area by partition glass, ensuring exceptional climate control and unparalleled sound insulation for passengers.
It also has mechanical allure – a creamy smooth 6.75 litre V12, which not only wangs out 571PS but also 850Nm of torque, enough tow the Earth out of orbit, hit 60mph in five seconds and be held in place at a governed top speed of 155mph. Yet twinkle toe around and the trip computer will read 24.5mpg.
Cullinan is a 4×4 like no other. It is 6ft tall, 6.5ft wide and 17.5ft long. Crank the seat height up to the max and I can just about see over the stretching-to-the-horizon bonnet. It fills the roads, it spills into next door’s car parking space and sticks out the front by a country mile.
At first its mammoth proportions feel daunting, but it is so lovely to drive and endearing that very soon you feel at home – except it is actually bigger than my home. I was born for this.
Like other Rolls-Royces it wafts along, spiriting driver and passengers on a magic carpet ride and as if like magic you arrive at destination’s end quicker than you expect and completely relaxed. A 350 mile round trip to watch the boy play rugby is dispensed with ease. It is like being chauffeured even though you are driving.
Given its colossal size and power it is stunningly quick, handles amazingly well and stops when required in a way that rewrites the laws of physics.
If that’s not enough, it is a 4×4 so you can venture off-piste, not that I would dare. The body can be raised for extra ground clearance, there are skid plates and a low ratio box and electronic gubbins to get you started, stopped and descended in perfect safety. Perhaps I would dare stick a tyre on the grass at the races but nothing more. It looks like you would expect an SUV to look, Ranger Rover-esque from the rear but distinctly Rolls-Royce from the front.
Cullinan is truly an amazing spectacle, no wonder my young admirer is in awe. It is every schoolboy’s dream and most adults’ too and proof of angels guiding us to the right garage door.
Engine: 6.75 litre V12
Top speed: 155mph
Combined MPG: 18.8
CO2 g/km: 341
Price: from £250,000.00