Rolls-Royce's first sport utility vehicle targets the outdoorsy gentry with a mix of utility and excess
Rolls-Royce's first sport utility vehicle, the Cullinan The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.7-litre V12 which makes 563bhp and 850Nm. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Queen Elizabeth II is said to have owned more than 30 Land Rovers and Range Rovers since ascending the throne in 1953. She uses them for grouse shoots (what she has against the bird is anybody's guess).

Imagine the additional sales Rolls-Royce Motor Cars would have had if it had a sport utility vehicle (SUV) earlier. Better late than never, as they say.

The Cullinan is the first "go anywhere" Rolls-Royce. Measuring 5,341mm tip to tip, 2,164mm side to side and standing 1,835mm tall, it is massive even for a Roller. At 2,660kg, it is also the heaviest.

Its wheelbase is identical to the Ghost's 3,295mm, but it has more space by virtue of its height.

Not only do occupants have more stretching room in the second row, they have generous stowage, courtesy of a 600-litre boot. If the rear seatbacks are folded down - a push button operation - you get 1,930 litres of cargo space. That translates to a lot of grouses and hunting gear.

The boot floor can also be raised through a push button, so that it is aligned with the folded rear seats to form a complete flat surface.

The car has twin tailgates, both motorised. Flip the lower one down, and you can have a picnic without bothering with mats.

Its air suspension can raise or lower the car to facilitate easy ingress and egress without having side steps.

On the go, the Cullinan is sublimely comfortable. You will notice the longer spring travel, which makes for a floating sensation, but it is much better controlled than in, say, a Range Rover.

The behemoth is powered by a creamy twin-turbocharged 6.7-litre V12 which makes 563bhp and 850Nm. Through an equally smooth eight-speed autobox, it sends power to all four wheels. Progress is thoroughly effortless, with most tasks accomplished with no more than 20 per cent of the engine's potential. You know this because of a power reserve meter Rolls-Royce has long employed in lieu of a tachometer.

All-wheel-drive has not robbed the Cullinan of refinement. Like all Rollers, the car is insulated like a recording studio. Unfortunately, the test-car betrays occasional cabin rattle.

The car also coasts exceedingly well, reinforcing its effortlessness. Despite its stature, it drives rather well. Steering is smooth and finely graduated, with just the right amount of meatiness.

It offers good visibility front and back, but its thick B-pillars sometimes make merging slightly challenging. Parking, however, is a cinch given its all-round camera system.

The Cullinan is the most high-tech Roller to date. It has adaptive cruise control, laser headlights, night vision and Vision Assist, which detects oncoming vehicles up to 1km away. There is also pedestrian warning, alertness warning, collision warning, lane-change warning and cross-traffic warning.

These gadgets are fine, but they sometimes see things which are not there. Like a couple of other cars which were similarly equipped, it applied the brakes once for no apparent reason. A tad disconcerting.

Other modern amenities include digital instrumentation, Wi-Fi hotspot, head-up display, and a superb infotainment system. You will also find ventilated seats, offroad drive mode and automatic hill descent. And for the first time, electric parking brakes with auto hold and release.

Being an SUV, the Cullinan is not furnished as opulently as other Rollers. There are rubber floor mats, for instance, which can also be replaced with thick-ply carpet if desired. Wood surfaces are a tad rustic, with joints which are detectable on close examination.

But other Rolls-Royce luxuries are intact, such as automatic door closing, chromed air-conditioning vents and door-encased umbrella holders.

So, if Her Majesty by the slimmest of chances is reading this, know that the car also has a wading depth of 540mm. Not quite Range Rover territory, but probably sufficient for Balmoral.

The car will also go well with the Crown Jewels, made up of, among other things, diamonds from the Cullinan - the largest rough diamond ever found.