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Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II review: Big luxe

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II review: Big luxe
PHOTO: Torque

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is even more high-tech after an update, but its potential for personalisation remains its most compelling calling card.

Not everyone liked the idea of having a Rolls-Royce SUV when the iconic carmaker launched the Cullinan in 2018.

But the brand has since silenced detractors. The Cullinan is now its most requested car, with the model alone accounting for up to 40 per cent of all Rolls-Royce sales.

So, it's no surprise that Rolls-Royce has delivered the Cullinan Series II, a heavily revised and facelifted version of the Cullinan Series I. Mind you, this in despite the current Cullinan recording "surging sales" in the first half of 2024.

A sharper outlook 

Exterior-wise, the most significant changes are found up front. The Cullinan gets new, slimmer LED Matrix headlights, featuring daytime running lights (DRLs) that extend to the sides of the bumper.

Meanwhile, the hallmark Pantheon grille looks slimmer and has been given sharper edges. Gone is the chrome frame design - instead, it now looks more like the actual Pantheon, with the vanes resting on polished steel.

In addition, the grille is backlit, making it more noticeable at night. This illumination also helps accentuate the vertical styling. Naturally, Rolls-Royce says that if the material looks like metal, it is metal.

The Cullinan Series II features "yacht-inspired" rising bowlines above two rhomboid-shaped vents. Elements like these give the Cullinan a fresher and younger appeal. Indeed, the average age of a Rolls-Royce owner has come down to 43, which is remarkable for a brand that used to be associated with elderly clients.

Over at the rear, there's less chrome on the tail-lights, which now have a darker appearance. The new bumper hosts more prominent exhausts that have more pronounced stainless steel surrounds, giving it a sporty character. Complementing these are new 23-inch wheels - one size larger than before.

Greater refinements 

Inside, one of the first things that catches the eye is the full width illuminated glass panel fascia for the front passenger. It is filled with 7,000 laser-etched dots that form a metropolitan skyline graphic, embellished with the Cullinan name.

To further delight clients, Rolls-Royce has created a "clock cabinet". It is a little niche on the passenger's side of the centre console that contains a miniature Spirit of Ecstasy that sits below the analogue clock.

The clock might be the sole analogue element in the Cullinan Series II, for the traditional analogue instrument cluster has been replaced by the high-resolution Spirit digital graphic from the Spectre, Rolls-Royce's first electric model.

Having more technology is undoubtedly appealing, but the most compelling reason to own a Rolls-Royce is being able to commission a one-of-a-kind car via the Bespoke programme.

The number of possible permutations available with regard to materials, finishes, and personal touches is mind-boggling. Rolls-Royce has added lively colour options to the standard selection, so clients are only limited by their imagination and budget.

Interestingly, fabric has returned as "Duality Twill", which is a hard-wearing textile made from bamboo. Duality Twill incorporates 2.2 million stitches and nearly 18km of thread per set. The leather upholstery, on the other hand, is available with Placed Perforations. This process uses two different-size tiny holes to craft unique motifs.

Superb and graceful 

Rolls-Royce does not go on about their models' engines and performance. Instead, the manufacturer focuses on how its models move effortlessly and are inherently "waftable".

Motivating the Cullinan Series II is a twin-turbocharged 6.75-litre V12 producing 563hp and 850Nm of torque, with the latter figure responsible for giving the SUV its regal performance.

As expected, the V12 goes about its business in a whisper-quiet fashion. When called upon, it motivates the sizeable SUV from rest to 100km/h in a very respectable 5.2 seconds and onto a top speed of 250km/h.

Don't expect to see any hybrid powertrains in the Cullinan or any other model - Rolls-Royce will instead go fully electric once the existing generation of models reaches the end of their life cycle.

For the bold 

Aimed at Cullinan clients who wish to make a bolder statement is the Black Badge Cullinan Series II, which is claimed to be the darker and more sinister alter ego of the 'regular' Cullinan. Rolls-Royce says that almost 90 per cent of Cullinan owners drive themselves instead of being chauffeured, so this version should appeal to them.

The Black Badge Cullinan features unique exterior coachwork, darkened chrome trimmings (including the Spirit of Ecstasy), distinctive wheels, and specific interior details.

As the "GT" variant, there's greater performance as well, with the twin-turbocharged V12 now pumping out 592hp and 900Nm of torque. This enables the SUV to have a marginally quicker (by 0.1 of a second) century sprint time of 5.1 seconds.

I drove the Black Badge Cullinan right after the normal Cullinan, and there was no distinguishable difference in ride quality between the two. On Ibiza's urban roads, both models were excellent.

That said, once the first corners were negotiated, I discovered that the Black Badge Cullinan's turn-ins and exits felt more engaging, as the suspension has been recalibrated.

Aside from the keener handling, the Black Badge Cullinan is more eager, too, especially when the "Low" setting - which holds each forward ratio longer - is engaged. I imagine that Rolls-Royce is loathe to use the word "Sport". "Low" is probably more palatable.

Both the Cullinan Series II and the Black Badge Cullinan Series II advance Rolls-Royce's "Effortless, everywhere" tagline (though probably not in Singapore's relatively narrow multi-storey carparks). In the realm of Rolls-Royce, the real question isn't about affordability but about embracing a lifestyle where such opulence is essential.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan Series II 6.75 (A)

  • Engine: 6749cc, 48-valves, V12, twin-turbocharged
  • Max power: 563hp (571PS) at 5000rpm
  • Max torque: 850Nm at 1600rpm
  • Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
  • Power to weight: 204.7hp per tonne
  • 0-100km/h: 5.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 250km/h
  • Consumption: 6.25-14.7km/L (WLTP combined)
  • Price excl. COE: From $2,078,888 / From $2,358,888 (Black Badge Cullinan Series II)
  • Agent: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Singapore

ALSO READ: Rolls-Royce Spectre review: Electric pinnacle

This article was first published in Torque. Permission required for reproduction.

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