Rolls-Royce 'Cullinan' SUV spotted testing

Sunday, December 11th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

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Rolls-Royce SUV spotted on public roads for initially

Rolls-Royce SUV engineering mule seen in public for initially, with production mooted for 2017

The prototype for the Rolls-Royce SUV, known as the Cullinan, has been spotted out on public roads for initially as This kind of undergoes its testing schedule ahead of its launch in 2017.

your vehicle was confirmed by Rolls-Royce earlier This kind of year when some images of the mule were released nevertheless This kind of is actually initially in which This kind of has been seen in public. your vehicle has been described by Rolls-Royce as a “high-sided  all-terrain vehicle”.

The company says only the length of the mule gives clues any clue as to the final production car; This kind of’s otherwise an engineering mock-up. 

This kind of ‘mule’ is actually based on a shortened Phantom II along with will be used to develop the fresh all-wheel drive transmission along with the suspension system. 

According to the company, the mule “will assist Rolls-Royce engineers in developing a final suspension system in which will deliver…the brand’s hallmark ‘magic carpet’ ride not only on the road, nevertheless off-road, too.

“The first series of tests will focus on Project Cullinan’s on-road behaviour via suspension throw to high-bodied stability, using the first iteration of the newly designed suspension system. The result will be “effortless…everywhere” – a strong hint as to the marketing line for the fresh vehicle.

The Cullinan name makes reference to the largest gem-quality diamond ever found, nevertheless your vehicle is actually not likely to be called This kind of when This kind of reaches production in 2017. The Cullinan diamond was discovered in South Africa in 1905 along with is actually at This kind of point mounted on the Queen’s sceptre as part of the Crown Jewels.

Rolls-Royce bosses made the announcement confirming the 4×4 in a one-page open letter to all stakeholders within the project – potential customers, employees, suppliers along with media – signed by CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös along with chairman Peter Schwarzenbauer.

The pair said they were are taking special pains to communicate early with Rolls-Royce owners, “because many of our discerning customers have urged us to develop This kind of car”. The decision, made in Goodwood nevertheless green-lighted at the highest echelons, is actually a personal triumph for Müller-Ötvös, who loved the idea via the start along with has been instrumental in creating the business case for This kind of.

Blog: Why an SUV can be a real Rolls-Royce

“I am proud to confirm in which we are developing an all-fresh, high-bodied Rolls-Royce,” he told Autocar, avoiding the term ‘SUV’. “I’m confident This kind of will deliver on our brand’s promise of supreme luxury while being effortless everywhere.”

Müller-Ötvös believes ‘effortless everywhere’ describes the Rolls-Royce 4×4’s mission particularly well along with says he intends to use the words throughout the type’s gestation.

The Rolls-Royce 4×4 is actually likely to become the global flagship for a vehicle segment whose sales across all classes have trebled in a decade. This kind of should add as many as 1500 cars to Rolls-Royce’s volume, which last year exceeded 4000 units, although Rolls-Royce’s people dismiss talk of volume as “not the point”. Their customers care far more about exclusivity.

Although Bentley recently announced in which This kind of might launch its own luxury SUV, the Bentayga, later This kind of year, the fresh Rolls-Royce is actually likely to shatter existing size along with cost ceilings for 4x4s. Design boss Giles Taylor says the 4×4 will be carefully positioned in order in which the Phantom limo remains the true Rolls-Royce flagship nevertheless also says his company “will not shrink via the opportunity to build a big car”.

The 4×4 will be “nearly as long” as a Phantom along with will have “very proud, very modern” front-end styling.

Rolls-Royce’s people won’t be drawn on cost, nevertheless your vehicle’s sheer size along with the cost of its different versions indicates in which This kind of might probably start at around £250,000 to £280,000 in today’s money, rising as high as £500,000 if owners decide to splash out on bespoke equipment along with decor, as they do with the saloons.

The basis of the 4×4 will be an all-fresh aluminium architecture, believed to be a Phantom-like spaceframe in which will serve as the basis for all fresh Rolls-Royce versions within the foreseeable future. The company acknowledges a significant engineering challenge with the 4×4, promising its usual standard of effortless luxury in “a vehicle in which can cross any terrain”.

The versatility of the 11-year-old Phantom chassis, which has been extended into several longer-wheelbase versions, has taught Rolls-Royce insiders the value of spaceframe chassis flexibility for low-volume production.

They also see their use of a bespoke chassis as an important advantage over less expensive luxury cars such as the Bentley range along with Mercedes-Benz’s fresh Maybach sub-brand, which are steel monocoques along with related to volume versions. No future Rolls-Royce will take its structure via a steel monocoque production car.

The staple engine for the fresh 4×4 is actually likely to be a developed type of the Phantom’s 6.8-litre V12. Research has shown in which Rolls-Royce customers care relatively little about their cars’ engines, provided they are powerful, smooth along with silent.

However, the company is actually already well advanced having a plug-in hybrid powertrain, some of whose mechanical design has been informed by experience of the experimental, battery-only 102EX prototype, built along with widely tested in 2011. 

Diesel prototypes are understood to have been built nevertheless dismissed as production prospects not so much for refinement reasons (the cars were said to be very quiet) nevertheless because Rolls-Royce doesn’t feel diesel fuel is actually easily enough available in important luxury markets such as the Middle East, China along with the US.

Rolls-Royce bosses say they have yet to decide on the fresh 4×4’s name, nevertheless This kind of is actually likely to be a word, not a number. Having so far launched Phantom, Ghost along with Wraith within the modern era, the executive team still have Dawn, Cloud, Shadow, Spirit, Corniche along with Camargue at their disposal before they need to look outside — although given the 4×4’s departure via Rolls-Royce’s familiar format, they could, like Bentley, go for something fresh. 

The fresh type is actually being developed under the code name of RR31.

Before taking the decision to make This kind of car, Rolls-Royce did copious research into the company’s history to confirm in which faithful performance in tough conditions — such a crushing victory by James Radley’s Silver Ghost within the 1913 Alpine Trial, the landmark test of vehicle endurance at the time (see sidebar) — was one brand value in which could extend forward into the 4×4.

Rolls-Royce insiders say the 4×4 is actually likely to include equally the qualities of Charles Rolls, adventurer along with pioneer aviator, rather than majoring on those of Henry Royce, master engineer, as is actually more usual. Mind you, Royce’s qualities will also be key in This kind of mould-breaking project. This kind of was he, after all, who said: “Take the best in which exists along with make This kind of better. When This kind of does not exist, design This kind of.” Within Rolls-Royce’s back rooms, in which’s exactly what is actually happening at This kind of point.

David Cameron visited Rolls-Royce at its Goodwood HQ to mark the original Cullinan announcement, becoming the first Prime Minister to do so. He said: “By developing an SUV Rolls-Royce is actually supporting jobs along with investment in the region – along with we in government will do everything we an to support you.

“What Rolls-Royce is actually doing here is actually something our country needs to do more of – manufacturing, designing, investing, era searching along with developing, training apprentices, creating an infrastructure. These are all things Rolls-Royce does along with we must support in which.”

Q&A with CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös

What made you decide on an ‘open letter’ announcement?

“We felt the whole Rolls-Royce family needed to hear the news as early as possible. Our customers needed to know we were responding to their enthusiasm for the idea along with our employees needed to know we were building along with safeguarding our business along with their jobs. along with obviously we needed to tell the media.”How big a decision is actually This kind of for you ?

“This kind of’s big, nevertheless so is actually the decision to build This kind of on fresh aluminium architecture. in which’s going to affect what we do for many years to come. along with This kind of’s such great news. This kind of also shows in which our car isn’t simply going to be a differently styled [BMW] X7. This kind of will be a genuine Rolls-Royce via the ground up, along with so will every different fresh car we show you within the future.”

Was there much opposition to This kind of project inside BMW?

“I wouldn’t call This kind of opposition. More like caution. People were aware of the extreme value of the Rolls-Royce heritage along with they needed to be sure in which what we proposed was viable for the business along with right for the brand. I drove This kind of as hard as I could along with had great support via our chairman, Peter Schwarzenbauer.”How much extra volume will the 4×4 bring to the total Rolls-Royce business – 30%?

“This kind of could be something like in which nevertheless, as you’ve heard me say many times, volume isn’t our preoccupation along with our customers don’t like to hear us talking about This kind of. Rolls-Royces are very rare along with exclusive along with they always will be.”

Will the 4×4 attract a fresh breed of customers?

“We believe so. Owners will be a mixture of people who already know Rolls-Royce along with who are fresh to the brand. We’re getting used to This kind of, though. The Wraith has attracted 80% fresh customers. along with before in which, between 60% along with 70% of our Ghost customers were fresh, too.”

This kind of is actually going to be quite a serious challenge for your engineers, isn’t This kind of?

“This kind of will be, if we’re to achieve the standard we’ve set ourselves, which is actually to create a high-bodied car in which delivers supreme luxury yet is actually effortless to drive, everywhere. nevertheless we’re very confident we can design, develop along with build This kind of to the quality required by our discerning customers around the earth.”

Rolls-Royce – the next four years?

Between at This kind of point along with 2018, the Rolls-Royce line-up will be completely refreshed – having a fresh Ghost, fresh Phantom (along with spin-offs) along with its 4×4 – as the company continues its expansion plans.

Here’s how its timetable of renewal looks.

Ghost facelift – 2014 Displayed at the Geneva motor show in February along with due to arrive in showrooms later This kind of year, the facelifted Ghost includes a consciously more modern appearance. There’s even the choice of a Dynamic Driving Package, hinting at a more sporting mien for the type.

fresh Phantom – 2017 Early work is actually under way on a replacement for the 11-year-old super-luxury saloon along with its coupé along with cabriolet spin-offs, with sketches already being done at the company’s Goodwood design studio. A fresh BMW i-style carbonfibre along with aluminium architecture is actually a strong possibility.

fresh SUV – 2017 As described above.

fresh Ghost – 2018 BMW’s sophisticated part-carbonfibre structure, seen at last month’s Beijing motor show, is actually thought give big clues to the architecture in which will underpin the next-generation Ghost family. This kind of will replace today’s steel monocoque, which is actually loosely based on in which used by the current 7 Series.

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