Rolls-Royce is set to enter the SUV game in 2018 with a new model code-named Project Cullinan.
It was in early 2015 that Rolls-Royce first announced it’s launching an SUV. Only, the automaker doesn’t want you to think of the vehicle as something well-heeled soccer moms will be clamoring for.
Instead, Rolls-Royce describes Project Cullinan as an “all-terrain, high-sided vehicle.”
That’s certainly what these teaser shots of a prototype suggest. The design looks very much like Rolls-Royce’s existing models but with an extended roofline and a much taller ride height.
Test mules have been running around for over a year but now Rolls-Royce is transitioning to the prototype stage. The vehicles will be sent to numerous locations around the world in a challenging testing program to ensure that the end product is “effortless” in all conditions. Key among the developments will be a new all-wheel-drive system.
Underpinning the vehicle is Rolls-Royce’s new aluminum spaceframe architecture, which will also underpin a redesigned, eighth-generation Phantom. The lightweight structure will eventually make its way into next-generation versions of the Ghost, Wraith and Dawn.
The idea of an off-road capable Rolls-Royce is likely still an oddity to some, but even a brand as traditional as the British maker of ultra-luxury vehicles cannot sit back and ignore the booming demand for SUVs in key markets like China, the Middle East and the United States.
As mentioned above, Project Cullinan is due in 2018. That will be a pivotal year for Rolls-Royce as it’s also when the redesigned Phantom is due. Rolls-Royce is yet to confirm which will arrive first, though it’s likely to be the Phantom as development of the flagship sedan is at a more advanced stage.