With all the buzz surrounding the Bentley Bentayga SUV, it is easy to forget that Rolls Royce also has an SUV entry in the works. Information has been pretty tight lipped, but the British luxury brand has revealed new details about the upcoming model as well as a pair of teaser images.
These images are the first time that its Project Cullinan SUV has been seen in its final production body. While Rolls Royce engineers did their best to hide things with loads of swirly camoflauge, key details still make themselves apparent. The front fascia falls in line with typical Rolls Royce cues, and is centered around the bold slatted grille as well as its elegantly styled hood.
Meanwhile the rear fascia adopts a formal wagon profile, but the camoflauge hides key styling elements, so we’ll have to wait until its formal unveiling to issue our verdict. The mirrors are also textbook Rolls, and borrow their basic inspiration from the Phantom and Ghost sedans.
Performance hardware is still a mystery, but Rolls Royce did reveal that Project Cullinan will begin cold weather testing in the Arctic Circle sometime after Christmas before flying to the Middle East (its key market) for hot weather testing late next year. We suspect that it will initially debut with a twelve cylinder engine before adding a V8 later in its production run. Like the Bentayga, an automatic will be the sole transmission choice avalible.
With this current testing schedule, Project Cullinan could make its formal debut either at the end of next year, or the beginning of the following year. When it does, it will compete with not only the forementioned Bentayga, but also the upcoming Lamborghini Uruus and the Aston Martin DBX.
Following a recent leak that exposed it in the flesh, BMW has formally unveiled the 2018 BMW 5 Series sedan which is expected to land in BMW showrooms in February and represent the 7th iteration of the company’s iconic full size sport sedan.
While the 2018 5 Series is technically an all new model, at least in theory. It is actually more of an evolutionary update for the car versus an outright revolutionary redesign. This is apparent when one looks at the basic shape which features standard Adaptive LED headlights as well as shorter front and rear overhangs. Thankfully the car still retains the traditional BMW cues that we have come to expect from the brand including the circular headlights, as well as the twin kidney front grilles.
The interior of the 2018 5 Series is also familiar to owners of the current car, but BMW engineers have given the new 5 Series several technological updates to make it stand out in its crowded segment. For instance, the car now features the same gesture control system that made its debut in the flagship 7 Series while the updated iDrive system benefits from an all new 10.25 inch infotainment screen that comes bundled with an iDrive 6.0 touchpad controller. Comfort also approaches 7 Series territory thanks to the new front seats that incorporate massage functions along with standard seat heat.
When the 2018 5 Series arrives in dealer lots, the festivities will be led by the 530i which features a turbocharged four cylinder good for 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims that these figures are enough to make the car sprint to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
The 540i will serve as the flagship 5 Series model at launch with performance coming from a turbocharged six cylinder engine that’s good for 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Naturally this helps lower the 0 to 60 time to 4.7 seconds and should please buyers looking for more fun out of their purchase. This will also allow the 540i to be on par with rivals such as the Jaguar XF, Audi A6, and the Cadillac CTS. Both models can be equipped with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system and a separate M Sport package. This particular package includes an aerodynamic package, Shadowline exterior trim, a lowered M suspension, and stylish 19-inch wheels. Both engines will be paired with an eight speed automatic transmission that borrows the same navigation assisted shift technology used in the 7 Series as well as the Rolls Royce Ghost.
BMW claims that this latest 5 Series will have sharper handling than its predecessors, and this is mainly due to a revised suspension package as well as lightweight materials that help the car shed 137 pounds of excess flab from its flanks. In addition an optional rear steering system can be equipped to both rear and all wheel drive models which should prove to be especially handy in tight cornering as well as twisty roads.
The 2018 5 Series was also designed to surround its occupants with safety and on that front comes equipped with an extensive suite of safety features. These include active cruise control with stop and go, active lane departure warning, and semi-automated steering. BMW claims that the bulk of these systems will work at speeds between 0-130 mph. This new suite of features allows the 5 Series to outshine many of its rivals, and highlights the recent advancements BMW has made in safety technology over the past several years.
Like most luxury cars, BMW’s all new 5 Series comes with an integrated navigation system, however the 5 Series does have one unique trump card up its sleeve that many of its rivals don’t have. BMW representatives claim that the system is capable of learning your driving habits. This means that if you diverge from a route that was suggested by the system, it can adapt and suggest the new route as its default choice the next time the same destination is selected. It adds a human element to the system, and could be a benchmark that many competitors will eventually add to their systems over the next few years.
Look for BMW to unveil pricing as well as final fuel economy figures closer to its 2017 introduction, with its debut taking place at a future auto show.
In a bold step that serves as a visual example of how much progress its upcoming ultra luxury SUV has made in its ongoing gestation period, Rolls Royce engineers have lifted the veil off of a one of a kind prototype platform known as “Project Cullinan”. The prototype’s main purpose is to serve as a test bed for the technology and platform that will eventually underpin Roll’s currently unnamed SUV.
Based on a shortened version of the company’s current generation Phantom II sedan, the unique dimensions serve as a compelling preview of the SUV’s overall size and width though Rolls was quick to point out that the styling of the finished product would be radically different versus the cobbled together appearance of “Project Cullinan.” Regardless of its eventual styling theme, curious buyers should make sure to not call it an SUV in front of Rolls Royce executives, the company has gone to great lengths to avoid using the term”SUV” to describe its offering, instead referring to their creation as a “high sided all-terrain motor car.”
While we are still scratching our heads on that particular description, the technology involving its all-wheel drive system does fascinate us, and should be on the minds of potential buyers as well. At the moment the prototype is focused on honing the fore-mentioned all-wheel drive system as well as a new type of suspension technology which will be expected to work together to maintain the “magic-carpet” esque ride quality that has come to define much of its current lineup both on and off the beaten path. To achieve this, engineers will have to first evaluate the SUV’s stability and suspension performance through on and off road trials including navigating cobblestone roads, as well as formidable “Belgian block” surfaces before moving on to formal off road trials.
“Project Cullinan engineering mules will spend equal amounts of time testing on-road and off-road to ensure that the customer will experience the same unrivaled ride quality on loose surfaces and challenging terrain as they do on the road today” the company revealed in an accompanying release.
This intense level of testing also appears to add further ammunition to rumors that the bespoke British luxury brand will not utilize any existing BMW platform for its SUV, and instead develop its own platform that will feature a lightweight aluminium space frame as well as an equally lightweight aluminium body. The engines powering this ultra luxurious behemoth are a complete mystery, but rumors have suggested that Rolls will either use its tried and true V12 engine, or a smaller twin turbocharged V8 that’s tailored for a balanced mixture of performance and fuel economy.
Look for the unnamed SUV to eventually make its debut at an auto show sometime in the near future, with the first examples arriving in Rolls Royce showrooms as early as the 2018 model year.