First review: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II (2024)

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In the six years since the launch of Rolls-Royce’s first SUV, the Cullinan, the model has become the fastest-selling Rolls-Royce in history. Today, it’s still the brand’s most requested car, accounting for a substantial proportion of the record 6,032 cars Rolls shifted in 2023. Now comes its much anticipated successor, The Cullinan Series II.

When the original car was revealed in 2018, it caused quite a stir. Some were outraged to see another bastion of craftsmanship take the predictable plunge into the SUV market, particularly with something that appeared so unwieldy. Few remembered that, as one of the oldest car-makers, Rolls-Royce’s first creations could handle the rough and rudimentary roads.

First review: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II (1)

A Rolls-Royce is about posture and presence

The Cullinan Series II is designed by Anders Warming, who came to Rolls-Royce in 2021. While most of the styling changes on the Series II are subtle, Warming’s work is most evident at the front of the car, where striking daytime running lights draw the eye out and down the car’s imposing face. “It emphasises the width and verticality of the car. In my view, a Rolls-Royce is about posture and presence,” he says. Developments in light technology and the requirement for cars to have daytime running lights (DRLs) over the past decade have added another weapon to the car designer’s war chest. Like the Phantom Series II and all-electric Spectre that launched last year, the Cullinan gains much of its identity and on-road presence from its lighting, particularly at night when the illuminated Pantheon grille shows off its magnificent metalwork. “We were inspired by the illuminated skyscrapers in the world’s megacities,” says Warming. Other additions also include a newly configured air intake that sits low in the front bumper, while optional 23in rims fill up the cavernous wheel arches.

Video description

Footage of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan driving down a road

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II in motion

© Rolls Royce

Mechanically identical to the predecessor save for a slight tweak to the suspension to account for the larger 23in rims, the SUV sports the same 6.75l twin-turbo V12 engine up-front. It offers up 571hp, or 600hp for the sportier Black Badge version.

Rolls-Royce remains tight-lipped about the possibility of an all-electric Cullinan, which is likely to appear in the run-up to the marque going all-electric by the end of 2030. Until then, the brand insists there’s still demand for its longstanding V12.

First review: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II (2)

Delivering its power to all four wheels, the Cullinan surges, almost silently, to its top speed of 155mph (limited) and flows with ease over the tight, twisting roads in Ibiza where the test takes place. It’s reassuringly and, somewhat predictably, solid and stable through the corners, with the rear-wheel steering aiding the car’s agility, particularly on tight turns and inner-city manoeuvres. The stability is achieved in part thanks to its near three-tonne weight, but also due to Rolls-Royce’s sophisticated suspension system. Warming calls it “our hallmark magic carpet ride”, and it does an excellent job of keeping the car’s weight in check.

First review: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II (3)
First review: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II (4)

While the Cullinan Series II makes a bold statement on the outside, its interior has subtly improved also. There’s an option to specify a new rayon fabric made from bamboo named Duality Twill. For those after a more traditional leather finish inside, there’s the option for “placed perforation” – the practice of creating artworks through tiny perforations in the leather. For the new leather-clad Cullinan, Rolls-Royce’s designers created a pattern inspired by the clouds over Rolls-Royce’s headquarters in Goodwood. With other models in the range already aligned to the art world, the marque believes the option will be popular for those looking to put an artistic stamp on their car.

First review: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II (5)

Beyond the interior materials, the new Cullinan features Rolls-Royce’s new digital dashboard called Spirit, which made its debut on the Spectre in 2023. Neatly designed, the minimalist display can be customised like the rest of the car, with owners able to tailor the colour of the instrument dials to complement the car’s interior or exterior. Housing the new system is a new full-length glazed dashboard panel with a new clock cabinet that features a scaled-down Spirit of Ecstasy figurine inside the cabin. There’s also space on the passenger side to replicate your favourite artwork in the dashboard, should you wish. In the back, passengers can connect two streaming devices to the separate screens and control the heated and cooled massage seats to their preference.

When it comes to competition, the Cullinan still stands alone, almost. There are fleets of luxury SUVs on offer, ranging from the brilliantly bonkers, supercar-beating Aston Martin DBX 707 (£198,000) to the Cullinan’s closest rival, the Bentley Bentayga Extended Wheelbase, which starts from £211,000. With a price starting at £275,000 (£315,000 for the Black Badge version) however, few cars command the same presence on the road as a Rolls-Royce, with its “sheer monolithic beauty”, as Warming calls it. After all, no one ever bought a Rolls-Royce to blend in unnoticed on the road.

First review: the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II (2024)
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