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Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge, the pinnacle of luxury now in an SUV avatar.

The Black Badge variant ups the ante with ecstatic luxury, we test drove the beast in the Golden Desert of Dubai.

Author – Ritin Paul

Intro: To find out the intricacies of automotive luxury we headed to the UAE. First impressions, the car can create a cult status keeping in mind that this is the first SUV from Rolls Royce. This ultra luxurious SUV derives its name from the largest diamond found in Africa labeled “Cullinan”. Apart from being the first SUV from Rolls Royce, it also clings on to be one of the few mammoth sized SUV’s found in the market. Rolls Royce built this car in the new platform called architecture of luxury. Being a Rolls Royce means that it carries on the heritage of having a distinct look and carrying a unique identity. It ticks all the right boxes when it comes to meeting people’s expectations, being a Rolls-Royce people expect it to be distinct from anything else found in the market, mind you the car gives an indication that designers went out of the box to bring to us this unique and new breed of SUV. The looks of the car can bring mixed reactions from people, those who will like this car might embody this beautiful design philosophy, however, on the other hand, some may find it repelling, on account of an overdose of luxury. We test drove the black badge trim and this is what we found out.

Exterior: First thing first, the face does resemble a Rolls-Royce, the grille indicates that it is from Rolls Royce territory. The treatment found on the fascia resembles the Ghost and is not like the Phantom, which means it carries a sporty character and the grille is smaller unlike the Phantom. In discussion is the Black badge variant which means that the lights are blacked out, the spirit of ecstasy is blacked out, the logo too is blacked out. The LED treatment is gone into the light and the DRL’s carry a distinct identity but might not appeal to most people. So replacing the chrome is the blacked out treatment found majorly on the front fascia of the car. The blacked out portion is done in chrome on the basic variant. The blacked out portions mixed really well with the car that we test drove. The side profile gives the indication that this is a huge SUV. The side is quintessentially Rolls Royce with a long bonnet and a laid-back design, a flat roof and an upright A-pillar. All this is reminiscent of the Rolls Royce character and all the chrome that is found here is blacked out in the variant we are testing. The door handles however are found in chrome, when you open the doors you will realize how different it is from other SUV’s mainly because the way in which the front and the rear doors open, it is found nowhere else in the SUV segment. Not to forget the umbrella that pops out of the door which is typical Rolls-Royce. At the rear you can see a very distinct design, it does appear as though it is miniscule, in fact what will surprise you is the split boot found in the Cullinan, you can pop out two seats from the boot, after unfolding the seats, you can find a table over there, what you can also find out is expensive crystal ware to indulge in a drink. The wheels are unique too; you can observe C –shaped design on the wheels which denote the car name Cullinan. It is a 22 inch wheel with a mix of chrome and blacked out portions. The hubcap found on the wheels remains afloat irrespective of what speed you might be doing. This is the only car from Rolls-Royce having red calipers which again reflect the sportiness that an SUV should carry.

Interior: Most owners of a Rolls-Royce will find themselves at the rear. The car comes both as a four-seat arrangement or a five-seat arrangement. In the four seat arrangement you will find the rear seat as two captain seats or as a bench in a five seat arrangement. The captain seats can be reclined behind and on offer is also a massage function which is an optional extra. You can also heat or cool the seats. You can also find an electrically operated privacy curtain which acts as a veil to keep you away from external disturbances. You also get a rear electrically operated curtain and a partition glass which basically is a partition from the boot. Adding on to the creature comforts is the entertainment system found in the plushy rear compartment of the Cullinan, it can be customized as per your choice. Throughout the cabin there is this classy orange-yellowish color which acts well as a dual tone color scheme with the black setting. You can also put in your signature to add on to the exclusivity of your car.

Drive: The 6.5 liter twin turbo V12 engine in the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is one of the biggest engines available in a series production SUV. It has an output of 571 PS and 850 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to an 8 speed automatic gearbox with 4WD technology. We might think that the Rolls Royce SUV would be a soft-roader but Roll-Royce claims the Cullinan can conquer any terrain with utmost comfort. We could not take this car off-road but the on-road performance was sublime, the Cullinan is built on an aluminum space frame chassis and Rolls-Royce calls it as architecture of luxury. The Phantom 8 shares the same platform. The Cullinan uses a double wishbone front axle, file link rear axle, with a self leveling air suspension, which controls the damper electronically. The Cullinan can also grab the data through the stereo camera integrated on the front screen and it can transfer this data to the suspension which adjusts it according to the road surface. This results in signature magic carpet ride of the Rolls-Royce. The Cullinan also has one of the quitest cabins amongst other SUV’s.

Verdict: Rolls-Royce says, the Cullinan has no rival as such, and driving this car we seem to be having a similar opinion. In India, the Cullinan is expected to be priced around Rs. 6 crore, the Cullinan is by far the most configurable SUV’s and that means the additional customizations can take the prices upto Rs. 16 crore. It is the world’s most expensive SUV, if you are on the lookout to own a Rolls-Royce, the Cullinan is the one you should be having.

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