First Drive; Rolls-Royce's 2019 Cullinan's Plush Ruggedness, In Yonkers

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First Drive; Rolls-Royce's 2019 Cullinan's Plush Ruggedness, In Yonkers

I did not rush out to procure and test the Cullinan the split second it appeared on the market last year, mostly because I wished to save it for a special occasion – like dog-sitting for an Irish wolfhound named Stella in Yonkers, NY, as I did in July.

There the mighty Cullinan was delivered when the time arrived, the neighbors gawking, the neighborhood kids snapping selfies, the looks of “You must be somebody” when I climbed in or out of this 17.5 feet long, 7 feet wide and 6 feet-plus tall machine with its 22-inch wheels and – loaded with options – its $417,475 sticker.

And that's the point, isn't it? No one buys a Cullinan for its ability to blend in.

The Cullinan has accomplished the unique feat that the Bentayga andCayenne have not – you don't say to yourself, “This SUV is nice, but I'd prefer the Dawn.” (or 9-11, or Continental GT) The Cullinan is heavy, like the Dawn – 5,866 pounds. It's powerful as hell, with a 6.75-litre V12 making 563bhp. Its new chassis is 30 percent stiffer than last year's, making it more of a true 4-by -4.

 

Overblown, ostentatious? Not a bit of it. It's just a beautiful and beautifully- made machine, and a pleasure to navigate.

Its new chassis is 30 percent stiffer than last year's, making it more of a true 4- by-4. This is known, by those in the know, as “Experiential Luxury.” That translates to being able to take your Cullinan off-road, which I did not do and had no intention of doing. The ride, over pavement, streets and roads, is butter- like, as well as powerful and plush, and that was enough for me.

Despite my lack of off-roading, however, enthusiasts should be aware of the particular ability of this machine to do the streams, forests, piles-of-dirt thing.

 

 

You've got a five-link rear axle coupled with a self-leveling air suspension, meaning big bumps are smoothed and you shan't spill your Dom Perignon. Electronically controlled dampers do their jobs via body and wheel acceleration, and there's a “Flagbearer” stereo camera system that scans and reads the road ahead. Push a button and you'll be in “adventure” mode, giving you the ability to ford gravel, mud or snow. The car can “wade” in up to 21 inches of water, too – more than the Bentayga, says Rolls-Royce.

Inside, naturally, it's a first-class, magnificent experience, with a slightly fatter steering wheel than what I'm used to on a Rolls, and plush metal pillars connecting the fascia and center console. How nice is it? I had to drive north up the West Side Highway in Manhattan one rush hour in the rain, average speed 15 MPH - and I didn't mind a bit.

The rear doors, of course, are coach doors, and the front doors have the obligatory industrial-grade umbrellas in their innards.

 

There are electronic valets galore – a four-camera system with both helicopter and panoramic view are on deck, assisted by an ultra high-res head up display. You can set up the rear compartment of the vehicle with a “Recreation Module” - a motorized drawer designed according to the whims of the owner. A Viewing Suite will store a pair of leather-festooned rear-facing seats and cocktail table.

 

 

 

My journeys took me to all parts Brooklyn, Manhattan and lush Westchester to view, from the unique perspective of this ultimate luxury vehicle, a world full of mischief and misfortune which, for the moment, didn't exist. For Rolls- Royce aficionados, the Cullinan supplies all the power, class and comfort we expect from the brand.

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