The very idea of a Rolls-Royce SUV is controversial, to say the least. To reassure brand purists, the company has shed insight into what we can expect from its upcoming off-roader.
Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s design boss, confirmed that the SUV’s final design has already been approved. He stopped short of prematurely revealing what it will look like, but he assured Top Gear magazine that it won’t be a “monster truck.” Instead, it will be a true Rolls-Royce that the world’s most discerning motorists can conceivably drive on a daily basis, even if they need to leave the pavement.
The designer pointed out that the idea of an all-terrain Rolls isn’t entirely new.
“When the brand started, typically the cars had a lot of ground clearance and huge wheels, and were used by Maharajas and other people to drive from Europe to the Far East,” said van Hooydonk in his recent interview with Top Gear.
Called Project Cullinan internally, the SUV will ride on a brand new aluminum space frame that will underpin other upcoming members of the Rolls lineup. The architecture will allow it to offer the “magic carpet” ride that motorists have come to expect from a car with the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy emblem on the hood. While power will initially be provided by a V12 engine, the Cullinan — a name that might not be retained for production — could usher in Rolls’ first-ever gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain a little later in its production run. All-wheel drive will come standard, of course.
Read more: Rolls-Royce’s next flagship takes shape
Rolls-Royce’s first-ever SUV is expected to break cover at a major auto show in 2018, meaning it will go on sale in time for the 2019 model year. However, there’s a chance that Rolls-Royce might give us an early taste of its off-roader by showing a close-to-production design study before the production model makes its debut.