In 2018, Rolls-Royce launched a revolutionary vehicle – the luxury automaker’s first SUV, the Cullinan. Rolls-Royce named its luxury SUV after the small Gauteng town where the famous 3,106.75 carat Cullinan diamond was discovered in 1905. It was the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found.

The diamond and the small town just east of Pretoria were named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the diamond mine. The diamond produced stones of various cuts and sizes and the largest two – the 530.4 carat Great Star of Africa and the 371.4 carat Second Star of Africa – are mounted in the United Kingdom’s crown jewels.

SUVs are in demand because of their high road clearance, and so ability to deal with bad roads, while also offering more space for children and shopping – plus being useful for a visit to that elite private game reserve.

Here’s 8 things you should know about the new Cullinan:

  1. It’s named after the largest diamond ever discovered which now resides in the British Crown Jewels.
  2. It’s the second Rolls-Royce to sit on the all-new aluminum ‘Architecture of Luxury’.
  3. The 6.75-litre twin-turbo V12 Rolls-Royce engine delivers 420kW/850Nm mated to all-new all-wheel drive.
  4. Tested to destruction all over the planet, Cullinan is an incredibly capable off-roader that sees the development of the ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ for off-road enjoyment.
  5. The first ‘three-box’ car in the SUV-sector. Cullinan’s rear partition wall creates a distinct environment for passengers, separated from the luggage compartment.
  6. It’s an all-terrain high-bodied car for an “authentic, luxury off-road travel a reality for the first time” says Rolls-Royce.
  7. Contemporary and functional design ensures Cullinan gains iconic status in the face “of increasingly bland SUV designs” says the automaker.
  8. Cullinan offers a suite of Bespoke features developed specifically for the many various lifestyles of its owners including the Viewing Suite and the Recreation Module.

The Cullinan is the first SUV to be launched by Rolls-Royce and is also the brand’s first all-wheel drive vehicle. The local price isn’t listed but it has a US starting price of around R4.6m. If its sale price here is anywhere close to that, it would make the Cullinan the most expensive SUV in South Africa by a long, long margin.

Powered by a twin-turbo 6.75-litre V12 engine and employing permanent four-wheel drive, the Cullinan was unveiled in May last year and the first customer deliveries are taking place now. SA’s allocation of Cullinans has been snapped up for 2019 and orders for next year are already being taken.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is Rolls-Royce as it’s never seen before. When Sir Henry Royce said, “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it”, he could have had Cullinan in mind.

By Noni Nchwe