Not content to leave the top-spot in the luxury SUV segment to rival Bentley Motors, Rolls-Royce is proceeding full-blast with its first-ever sports utility vehicle, dubbed Project Cullinan.
The marque, which first revealed the existence of the project last year, just released two official images of the top-secret vehicle, which rides much higher than previous renderings. Road tests are slated to begin this week.
The name appears to be a reference to a world-famous diamond with an important British history. Rolls is calling it as "all-terrain, high-sided vehicle" to distinguish it from run-of-the-mill SUVs.
An "engineering mule" was built for the development of a new all-wheel drive suspension system, a first for Rolls, as well as the all-new aluminum architecture that will underpin all Rolls-Royces from 2018 onwards.
Rolls would likely also draw on tech from parent company BMW and its top-of-the-line sports activity model, the X6M.
The motto for Project Cullinan is "Effortless … Everywhere", denoting its ties to Rolls' super-luxe sedans. Just after Christmas, the vehicle is slated to enter the Arctic Circle to undergo cold weather durability and traction testing. Later in 2017, it will travel to the Middle East to endure the world's highest of temperatures and challenging desert conditions.
Rolls CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös says Cullinan will be "a truly authentic Rolls-Royce, which like its forebears will reset the standard by which all other luxury goods are judged."