Star line up to buy

Rolls-Royce's new

sparkler

Rolls-Royce Cullinan, front
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, front, action
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, side
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, rear
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, interior
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, rear seats
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, console controls
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, instrument panel
Rolls-Royce Cullinan, boot

JUST like the diamond of the same name which dazzles in the state crown of England the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is set to become the jewel in the crown of the luxury car maker.

Already Hollywood stars and pop legends are among the rich and famous lining up to buy one of the first luxury SUVs ever to come from the world's most prestigious car maker.

Never before in its 100-plus year history has Rolls-Royce produced a four-wheel-drive model or a hatchback.

And the prospect of owning the Rolls-Royce of SUVs has resulted in a phenomenal response, with the waiting list already standing at 12-18 months.

You'll need a pretty hefty bank balance though as this model starts from around £250,000, although almost every customer adds their own special features pushing the price ever upwards.

One Cullinan on order has a price tag of almost £1 million.

Having driven the Cullinan though it's easy to see to see why it's in such high demand.

It successfully combines all the luxury and quality that Roll-Royce is known for with the technology to ensure that this 4x4 can go anywhere.

With its huge Rolls-Royce grille topped by the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy figurine the Cullinan looks every inch a traditional Rolls-Royce from the front.

But move around the car and the somewhat incongruous - for a Rolls-Royce - hatchback rear comes as a bit of a shock.

But despite being devoid of a conventional boot this is no small car, measuring 17.5ft - longer than some other models in the current Roll-Royce stable.

Sitting on a weight-saving aluminium platform the Cullinan is powered by a version of the same mighty 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 engine that powers all Rolls-Royce models.

This Roller, however, comes with four-wheel-steer and a very hi-tech four-wheel-drive system which is constantly altering the amount of drive going to the front and rear axles to ensure ideal traction in all circumstances.

You don't have to press any buttons or switches to key in the type of surface you are about to drive on, the car checks it all for you by "talking" to the satellite navigation system and constantly scanning the road ahead with powerful cameras capable of detecting even the smallest puddle

The suspension makes millions of calculations every second as it continuously varies and adjusts the shock absorber settings.

The Cullinan offers a new generation of off-roading.

It's also packed with other state of the art technology including night vision, wildlife and pedestrian warning systems, a high resolution head-up display and a camera system which not only gives a panoramic view of the car but also does a 360 degree scan of the vehicle.

Fortunately for Rolls-Royce enthusiasts there are still the marque's more traditional features like back doors which open rearwards and can be closed from inside at the touch of a button, a column mounted gear shift for the eight speed automatic gearbox and a centre console incorporating a drinks cabinet with whisky glasses and decanter, champagne flutes and refrigerator set into the rear seat.

And there are still RR monogrammed umbrellas hidden in tubes in the doors - air warmed of course to ensure they are always dry.

With the Cullinan buyers have a choice of rear seating. There's the traditional two individual armchair-like seating arrangement or a new more modern bench seat which allows the seatbacks to be folded down - electrically of course - to give more boot space.

From behind the wheel the feel and the outlook - thanks to that huge bonnet stretching out before you - is just like that of any Rolls-Royce.

It's a car which glides along serenely in total silence and there's just the slightest increase to whisper level as you put your right foot down hard and the 571bhp engine powers you forward with an enormous surge but still in a refined Rolls-Royce manner.

The four-wheel-steering system ensures that despite the length of the Cullinan it's superbly manoeuvrable when it comes to getting into tight spots for parking and the handling and road holding are spot on.

It will hit 62 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph and while prospective buyers are probably not interested in fuel consumption for those who are it's 18.8mpg.

The new look dashboard features a natural unvarnished "open pore" wood as well as specially created leather inspired by a Prada suitcase from the 1920s.

It's a nice touch Roll-Royce traditionalists are bound to warm to.

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