This isn’t a Rolls-Royce Phantom that has been tastelessly tarted up with a big GT wing by some aftermarket boffins like Masonry to flog off to another wealthy industrialist. No, this is a Rolls-Royce made by Rolls-Royce, but it isn’t for sale or sporting any new optional equipment. Instead this sinister looking Phantom is merely a development mule for Rolls-Royce’s upcoming all-terrain motor car (apparently Rolls-Royce refuses to call it an SUV since they don’t like having the word ‘sports’ in its description).
Called the Project Cullinan, this early engineering mule is based on a shortened Phantom Series II body as seen with its really short and stocky rear doors and elevated ride height. The mule has been created purely for the development of an all-wheel drive suspension system that will deliver Rolls-Royce expected “magic carpet” ride on both on road and off-road conditions, whilst living up to the model’s promise of being “Effortless, Everywhere”.
As such Rolls-Royce engineers has lined up a gruelling schedule for Project Cullinan, which includes testing on-road behaviour from suspension throw to high-bodied stability, and suspension testing across all types of road surface specifications such as the dreaded Belgian Pave, cobblestones, corrugated concrete, and not forgetting public roads. The test will also take into account noise development and measurement surfaces, resonance road, and acceleration bumps, to ensure that they have all bases covered by the time the finished all-wheel drive product is ready for its prime time.
That said, the component that intrigues us the most is the big rear wing, which surely serves a technical purpose rather than an aesthetic one on the test mule. The wing’s presence is said to simulate the aerodynamic effect of having a roofline that runs all the way to the back, though we wonder at its height in relative position to the test mule's roofline, could Rolls-Royce new all-terrain motor car sport a fastback shape that is reminiscent of the Wraith? We will have to wait till the day Rolls-Royce unveils their off-road model to be certain.