Rolls Royce has confirmed the inevitable: The venerable British ultra-luxury brand will be building an SUV. Or, in Rolls’ erudite parlance—where vehicles don't drive, they waft, and where horsepower numbers are described simply as adequate—they will be hand assembling a bespoke "High Bodied Vehicle." The tag line for this profligate plower, which unconfirmed rumor has it will be called the Cullinan (after the world’s largest diamond) is indicative of its intended use/brand positioning: Effortless Everywhere.
Opulent semantics aside, the new vehicle will be built atop an all-new architecture, one that makes intensive use of aluminum in order to decrease, somewhat, what promises to be a quite prodigious poundage. This is to be a Rolls Royce after all. Lavish and laden, if not leaden, are the price of entry. The brand’s current top sedan weighs three tons. Do I hear four? Just to be safe, we’re going to register the web address Waftin’Coal.com.
If it is intended to go anywhere—to one’s snowed-in New England ski chalet, tsunami-eroded Pacific oceanfront estate, or sandstorm blown Emirati dune outpost—this new architecture will necessitate the inclusion of all-wheel-drive. And since Rolls seemingly plans to build its next generation range-topping Phantom Sedan, Coupe, and Convertible off this same full-sized architecture, we can only surmise that an all-wheel-drive Phantom may also be in the works. Good news for everyone above the Mason-Dixon line or the Canadian border—or anyone rich enough to be hovering above them in their Gulfstream G650.
Though Rolls claims that it has no true competitors, it cannot have failed to notice that very rich individuals are spending their allotted SUV budget elsewhere. Mercedes and Land Rover both currently offer utes that crest the quarter-million-dollar mark, and plan to escalate the exclusivity of these offerings in the very near future. Actuaries and product planners at Bentley, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini have already taken note of this fact and have their own chic supplanting six-figure offerings in the forge.
Rolls isn't releasing any specifics on the vehicle, but our sources indicate that it will be a bit more dear. It is nearly certain that this vehicle will be huge, with legroom and amenities befitting the brand, so we expect it to seat only four or five in first class comfort even if it is longer and higher and heavier than any of its cohorts. For a certain segment of the population, and a certain type of effortless driving, there is also no substitute for cylinder count, so we predict confidently that the vehicle will be powered by a V12. And since turbocharged engines gain power in the rarified air of the most exclusive elevations, we'd be willing to place money on forced induction.
Speaking of money, we wouldn’t expect this truck to supplant the $500,000 Phantom as the ultimate exemplar of the ultimate automotive brand. But we also wouldn’t expect it to be some entry-level crossover meant to bring the mass market into the Spirit of Ecstasy’s exclusive argent embrace. We wouldn’t even expect it to undercut Rolls’ current entry-level vehicle, the $289,000 Ghost. Our intelligence indicates that this $uper $UV will start somewhere above $400,000, and climb steeply from there. Positioned just right to Roll over Rover, and anyone or anything else that attempts to challenge its primacy.
Photos by Rolls Royce