Rolls-Royce’s iconic flying lady bonnet ornament is depicted in an original Arabic artwork
We take Rolls’ sumptuous SUV out on the desert roads, with added drone footage
When you’re in the stratosphere, nobody is surprised to meet the jetsetters – and in Dubai’s rarefied climes, that means even the majesty of a Rolls-Royce sometimes can’t retain the ability to turn heads.
Right now, the Cullinan is a different matter. You will regularly pass one of the famous old British brand’s other current models – Ghost, Phantom, Wraith and, on occasion, the drop-top Dawn – on the roads here; RR’s debut SUV, however, is currently a box-fresh sight.
It’s a Rolls-Royce, Jeeves, but not as we know it. The Cullinan retains the stately nose that has for decades defined the luxury-loving manufacturer, yet with the grille set at an imposing height that suggests anything that dares get in your way is going to stay hit.
Behind that snout is an engine with a familiar amount of cubic capacity: 6.75 litres of twin-turbo V12. That means it can hustle – numerous fellow motorists are visibly surprised at the big Rolls’ swift pick-up embarrassing their own rides’ acceleration. And speaking of embarrassment, without mentioning brands, we could have sworn that an example of perhaps the Cullinan’s nearest competitor almost cowered when the two SUVs meet at a junction.
The Rolls is not so much king of the road as lord of all it surveys. It wafts over the UAE’s speed bumps as if they’re mere millimeter-tall imperfections in the road.
It’s almost impossible to be stressed inside the Cullinan, indeed, whether behind the wheel or in the cossetting rear armchairs – our test car comes in the “theatre” configuration of two enormous, enveloping back seats. Electrically operated curtains on all three glazed sides of the rear aid in keeping away prying eyes. There’s an faintly absurd amount of unfolding addenda in the rear-seat console between the back seats – at least two examples of which allow access to refrigerated cubbyholes complete with champagne flutes and decanters.
There’s a third row in which to park your pampered behind, only not while on the move. While parked, open the two-part tailgate and hold down a button to reveal the “viewing suite”, which slides and unfurls into a two-seater picnic perch, replete with pop-up mini table for resting your Pimm’s.
It’s the kind of fabulously ostentatious touch that, on top of the high-end flourishes RR owners have come to expect (front and rear massage seats; umbrellas stowed inside the doors) has made Rolls the number one in living the high life on four wheels.
Friends and colleagues who spy this Cullinan during my three-day test drive are divided over its paintjob – in a copperish-orange known as Tuscan Sun – but it blends in beautifully against the UAE’s golden dunes. And there’s no denying that the Cullinan’s confident lines, stance and sizeable presence demand attention. It says something for the size of this behemoth that the 22-inch wheels don’t even look all that large, in context.
In fact, the only thing more impressive than the Cullinan itself is the footage that Debonair captured with the car in and around the Dubai desert of Al Qudra by the expert hand of talented young photographer, videographer and certified drone pilot Mustafa Syed – follow him on Instagram here and watch the video here.
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