Project Culinnan. First-ever Rolls-Royce SUV spied again

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Rolls-Royce’s first SUV ever has been spied again. Known as Project Cullinan, the upcoming 4×4 will rival the rumored Mercedes-Maybach SUV and has been green-lighted for production, starting in 2017.

At the core of the 4×4 we’ll find an all-new aluminium architecture. Mimicking the Phantom’s spaceframe, it is set to become the basis for all new Rolls-Royce models in the foreseeable future.

Even if the staple engine for the new 4×4 is likely to be a developed version of the Phantom’s 6.8-litre V12, a plug-in hybrid variant is also mooted for production, with diesels dismissed for refinement and image related issues.

The SUV is expected to quickly become the best-seller of the British company. Rolls-Royce is already projecting sales figures close to 1500 cars for its SUV flagship. In 2014, the company reached a new overall deliveries record of 4000 units.

Rivals include Bentley’s upcoming Bentayga 4×4 and the third member of the recently founded Mercedes-Maybach Mercedes’ sub-brand, an SUV based on Benz’s own GLS off-roader. It will catering for hot demand in markets like Asia or the Middle East, where large sport-utility vehicles are still prized for their imposing stature and generous cabin accommodation.

“We will do more Maybach models, but it will not be for all vehicles. Any Maybach must make sense, because it is not just about putting an emblem on a car,” Martin Hulder, project manager for the revamped S-class range, revealed at the Detroit motor show.