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Rolls-Royce Cullinan to follow traditional design rules

The high life: A short-wheelbase Phantom has been used as a test mule for the forthcoming Cullinan SUV, employing a lifted suspension system and all-wheel-drive powertrain.

Parthenon grille, low roof-line to feature on upcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV


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28 Nov 2016

ROLLS-ROYCE’S first SUV, dubbed the Cullinan and due before the end of the decade, is unlikely to feature the design and proportions of a traditional SUV, according to a company executive.

Speaking to GoAuto at the unveiling of the Wraith Black Badge in Melbourne last week, Rolls-Royce global client sales manager Ian Grant said the traditional large Parthenon front grille and a low profile will feature on the new model, something that will be difficult to achieve on a high-riding SUV.

“It’s going to be a high-sided all-terrain vehicle sticking with the traditional design aspect of Rolls-Royce as well, so if you take two wheels and place them on top of each other they’re roughly the same height of the vehicle, and that’s been a theme of Rolls-Royce since day one,” he said.

“So that combined with the large Parthenon grille on the front are two design aspects of the vehicle we are certainly incorporating into any future models.”

Mr Grant acknowledged that sticking to these design rules would be particularly difficult for an SUV, which traditionally sits much higher than a sedan and especially compared to the long, low profile of existing Rolls-Royce vehicles.

“That tradition has never broken since the first Rolls-Royce was built, so that’s what we have to work to for any future model releases. The great thing is I’m lucky enough not to have the job of designing the car, but the traditions will follow through for sure.”

As Rolls-Royce sales and marketing director Fintan Knight told GoAuto last September, the Cullinan will attract a younger demographic than any other Rolls, and it will be targeted at women.

“It’s a youthful concept so we will definitely be hitting a younger demographic, but I also think women feel more confident in such cars in a sense of security and capability, which appeals,” he said.

The pitch to younger buyers is in line with Rolls-Royce’s global strategy that has seen the average age of buyers drop across the board.

Mr Grant said that due to the higher prevalence of entrepreneurs making their fortune at a younger age, there are more young people buying Rolls-Royces than ever before.

“From our side we’re a company that always gets pigeon-holed to be an older market, but the information that we see and we know is our age demographic is dropping dramatically, our sales are up year-on-year which is fantastic for us, and we see ourselves as the luxury brand leader and we will continue leading that luxury brand as well,” he said.

“We’ve seen our average age of Rolls-Royce owner dramatically falling over the past few years, so it’s not as much aimed at a younger crowd – I think its been adopted by a younger crowd.

“What we’ve seen globally is a migration of money through millennials and dot-com millionaires and entrepreneurs coming through and running businesses and establishing themselves much younger than what the working environment (previously) allowed you to do.”

While concrete details of the Cullinan are thin on the ground, it is currently in the testing and development stage and it is understood the SUV will be built on the same platform as the short-wheelbase eighth-generation Phantom, which is expected to arrive sometime around 2018.

It will be built on an all-aluminium architecture, which is likely to be a consistent theme of future Rolls-Royces.

By the time the Cullinan arrives in Australia it will have some competition in the ultra-luxury SUV segment, such as the Bentley Bentayga which arrived Down Under earlier this year, the $200k Tesla Model X P100D which arrives late this year, the Maserati Levante coming next year, and the long-awaited Lamborghini Urus which is due in 2018.

This is in addition to high-end mainstays such as the Range Rover Autobiography and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

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