Rolls-Royce reveals camouflaged prototype of its Project Cullinan SUV

Article by Christian A., on December 5, 2016

Usually, it is up to resourceful spy photographers to take clear pictures of vehicle prototypes, especially those that have aroused a lot of interest. The same is true for Project Cullinan, which aims to create an overly luxurious SUV for Rolls-Royce. Dubbed as the Rolls-Royce’s fighter against the Bentley Bentayga, the Cullinan SUV has been spied so many times. This time around, however, Rolls-Royce took the luxury of showing the Cullinan SUV to the public, albeit in camouflaged form.

Don’t get us wrong. This Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV isn’t the final version. It is rather a prototype that is currently being tested, modified and refined to suit the market that Rolls-Royce is aiming for. However, we could surmise that this is – at most – the design of the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan. It’s highly likely that Rolls-Royce is now just setting its focus on improving the SUV’s inner workings.

Rolls-Royce has dubbed the Cullinan as an “‘all-terrain, high-sided vehicle," and the prototype featured in the pictures reveals that it could be. The aim is to create a final vehicle that could go ‘Effortless … Everywhere.’ According to Rolls-Royce, this is a full development prototype, which will soon enough be tested in public. To determine whether its description fits, Rolls-Royce is taking the development prototype to various locations around the world as part of a challenging testing program. One location would be Arctic Circle, where the Cullinan will be tested for its cold weather durability and traction. Another location will be the Middle East – which will be visited sometime in 2017 – where the Cullinan will be tested for high temperature durability and its ability to tackle challenging desert conditions. After all, its moniker “Cullinan” – which is its codename and is not yet final – is derived from the name of one of the largest rough diamonds ever.

The pictures of the Cullinan – as provided by Rolls-Royce – reveal an imposing yet elegant SUV that bears the marque’s signature classic face. More specifically, the Cullinan features a raised hood, a grille with vertical chrome slats, chiseled as well as large intakes in the fascia. The pictures didn’t show the rear end of the Cullinan SUV. However, it is pretty clear that the prototype comes with an angular hatchback with a dipping roof.

According to Rolls-Royce, the Cullinan will be underpinned by its new aluminum spaceframe platform that will also underpin the next generation of the Phantom and all new Rolls-Royce from 2018 model year onwards. The new the Cullinan SUV will feature a new all-wheel drive suspension system, which could be tuned to provide a luxurious comfortable ride.

Press Release


In an open letter published in the Financial Times on 18 February 2015, Rolls-Royce undertook to regularly inform its stakeholders about the progress of Project Cullinan. Continuing this dialogue, which has seen twice-yearly updates, Rolls-Royce today publishes photographs depicting the latest key milestone in the development programme of this new ‘all-terrain, high-sided vehicle’. This first full development vehicle will begin testing in public from tomorrow.

The world’s leading luxury goods brand has regularly informed its patrons about this painstaking development programme. Advocates of the marque have been shown the first engineering mule built for the development of the new all-wheel drive suspension system, as well as those created to test the all-new aluminium architecture that will underpin all Rolls-Royces from 2018 onwards.

This latest development vehicle will travel to numerous locations around the world in a challenging testing programme to ensure that the end product will be ‘Effortless … Everywhere’. Just after Christmas, for example, Project Cullinan will enter the Arctic Circle to undergo cold weather durability and traction testing. Later in 2017, it will travel to the Middle East to endure the highest of temperatures and challenging desert conditions.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment in the development of Project Cullinan both for Rolls-Royce and for the patrons of luxury that follow us around the world,” comments Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Bringing together the new four-wheel drive system and the new ‘architecture of luxury’ for the first time sets us on the road to creating a truly authentic Rolls-Royce which, like its forebears, will reset the standard by which all other luxury goods are judged.”

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