After years of ridicule and testing, Rolls-Royce has unveiled its first SUV, a boat from a vehicle called Cullinan that bears the name of the largest diamond ever discovered. "The most anticipated car of 2018 and, possibly, the most anticipated Rolls-Royce of all time," according to Rolls-Royce, the Cullinan will go on sale later this year for about $ 325,000, approximately 1/100 of the estimated value of the diamond.
The Cullinan with all-wheel drive will be quite powerful, with a 6.75-liter V12 engine and double turbo that generates 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, and Rolls-Royce positions it as an all-terrain vehicle adept. (The company says that Cullinan has been "subject to destruction across the planet.")
But this will not sacrifice the journey by which Rolls is known, argues the company. Luxury touches abound: the rear seats are separated by a center console that contains whiskey glasses, a carafe, champagne flutes and a fridge. The vehicle can be lowered more than one and a half inches to facilitate entry. There is a steering wheel with heating, as well as seats with heating (and ventilation). There are also technological blooms. Rolls-Royce includes its infotainment system with touch screen, wireless charging, five USB ports, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a warning screen in front of the driver. Security features include night vision cameras, active cruise control and collision and lane departure warnings.
Because it's an SUV, there's about 22 cubic feet of storage space in the back, which Rolls-Royce says should be more than enough to save a "Mark Rothko from the Art Gallery or a newly discovered artifact from the last archaeological dig".
Knowing that SUVs are often used for more, um, practical adventures. However, the company also suggests some other uses. In the press release of Cullinan, Rolls-Royce reinforces the idea of "recreation modules" that can be easily plugged into the back of the SUV, which facilitates quick vehicle equipment with tools for various activities. Here is one:
Imagine the scene. After you have chosen your adventure, call your garage. "Jason, let's go to the drone races today, can you load the Drone Module into the Cullinan?" On the ground floor, Jason selects the Drone Racing Module from the rack that contains several other Recreation Modules that the owner has commissioned Rolls-Royce to meet your favorite recreational activities.
Those other modules could be for "fly fishing, photography, rock climbing, snowboarding, skydiving, kite surfing, base jumps, [and] volcano boarding", but it also promotes folding seats that were mocked at the beginning of This year for people who enjoy "just sit and contemplate the view".
Rolls-Royce is far from being the first luxury car brand known for its sedans and coupe to make an SUV. In fact, it is one of the last important holdouts. Bentley, Maserati and even Lamborghini manufacture SUVs. At the lower end of the scale, SUVs account for a large portion of the sales of Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Cadillac, Lincoln and BMW. Ferrari and Aston Martin also announced plans to enter the market.
SUVs (and trucks) have become such a dominant force in the auto market that Ford recently announced that it is essentially abandoning sedans in their favor. The only things that closely resemble a "car" as we normally think (low profile, two or four doors) in the Ford lineup will be the Focus Active, which is a kind of big hatchback (or a small crossover) and the Mustang, which will be the only surviving sedan.
With such a high demand: sales of SUVs in the US UU they increased last year, despite a general drop in vehicle sales, which could mean big profits for these companies. But it could also discover unintended consequences. While most major automakers are committed to reducing emissions from their fleets in the future, SUVs present a challenge for total electrification, as they are intrinsically larger and heavier. (While an SUV theoretically has more space for a larger battery, there is a possibility that the battery life will decrease and, therefore, the maximum range, the heavier the battery becomes).
Car manufacturers could focus on hybrid technology working on SUV meanwhile, advances battery technology. However, ambitious emissions targets around the world could be threatened if most automakers change their focus too much on SUVs and trucks, even if they are hybrids.
Does any of this concern the owners of Cullinan while they drink whiskey on their way home after their victorious drone race or the successful BASE jump or a tough purchase of a Rothko? Probably not. And if that is not the definition of luxury, I do not know what it is.