Rolls-Royce unveiled the most expensive SUV on the market on Thursday – setting a new level for price and luxury in the increasingly crowded division.
Among its features: retractable leather picnic seats and a table, which extends from the boot space.
Called “The Cullinan” – named after the world's largest diamond – the plush, US$325,000 behemoth packs all the creature comforts and smooth ride of a Rolls with offload capabilities from all-wheel drive.
Rolls is so convinced the Cullinan is different that it is not calling it an SUV, but a “high-sided vehicle”.
Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, told CNBC: “This car not only has the performance that we are well known for, the ‘magic carpet ride’ and materials, but it also has capabilities that are firsts for Rolls-Royce.”
He added: “This Rolls-Royce is probably the most anticipated car in our history, but also maybe this year in the automotive industry.”
The first thing to know about the Cullinan is that it is big. Really big.
It stands six feet (1.8 metres) off the ground, weighs more than 5,800 pounds (2,268kg) and packs Rolls-Royce's 6.75 litre, twin-turbo V12 engine that gets 563 horsepower.
In a first for a Rolls, there is all-wheel drive and an all-wheel-steering system – so all that weight can move quickly on the streets of Beverly Hills and the dunes of Namibia with equal aplomb.
Its top speed is 155mph (249km/h).
It is the interior, however, that makes a Rolls.
The Cullinan can fit five people, but the car is so big all of them could be National Football League American football defensive players.
The back seat comes in either two cockpit-style seats or one long seat that is the size of most sofas.
When the seats are folded down, there is a staggering 21 cubic feet (0.6 cubic metres) of luggage space.
For drivers, the Cullinan is loaded with night vision (that includes a “nighttime wildlife” setting), an alertness assistant for when you are tired, a four-camera parking system with panoramic view, Wi-fi and entertainment systems.
Yet perhaps the coolest feature of the Cullinan is in the very back.
One of the options is to have a retractable picnic table and leather chairs that instantly transform the boot into an outdoor dining lounge for what Rolls-Royce calls “the best seat in the house”.
It is perfect for those starry nights on the Serengeti or dipping into the Grey Poupon mustard while attending an outdoors sports event
“This is a more casual car,” Muller-Otvos said, “so it’s not only for watching polo matches or horse races, but it might also be that you’re going to watch your kids playing soccer.
“It’s a different kind of lifestyle and we cater to these lives.”
The Cullinan will also open up new markets for Rolls, geographically and demographically.
The poor road conditions in many less developed countries makes driving a typical Rolls very difficult.
So the Cullinan could attract new customers in Brazil, Russia and parts of Asia.
Countries prone to snow, such Canada, may also become attractive markets.
“This car was mean to be a global car all over the world,” he said.
“We will definitely see a completely new breed of customer.”