It’s always exciting to see spy shots of future vehicles, but it’s not very often that automakers provide said photography. That’s exactly what happened here, as Rolls-Royce has released the first official images of the test mule for its upcoming SUV – or “high-sided, all-terrain motor car,” of course – codenamed Project Cullinan.

Rolls-Royce says that it will begin testing this cobbled-together mule on public roads, so there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more spy shots in the coming weeks and months. There’s still no telling when the production version will be ready or when a concept might be shown, but Rolls-Royce did reveal a few details about its first SUV.

For starters, Project Cullinan will ride on a shortened version of the platform used for the Phantom, which is also expected to be shared with the imminent BMW X7. The size of the Rolls-Royce SUV is quite obvious from the images, due to the fact that the mule’s body work is essentially a shortened Phantom Series II with an interesting wing on the decklid. Not surprisingly, Rolls-Royce says that this mule shares “no design aspects” with the final product – a good sign indeed, since this car is almost as offensive as the “custom” Maybach created by rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West back in 2011.

Despite sharing platform components with the Phantom, Project Cullinan will get its own suspension setup to accommodate the all-wheel-drive system that will give the car a smooth ride on road and off, or as Rolls-Royce puts it: “effortless… everywhere.”

Continue reading to learn more about Rolls Royce’s future "Project Cullinan".

Why it matters

Although the Rolls-Royce Project Cullinan is still in the very early stages of development, these official images of a test mule show that Rolls-Royce is serious about offering an off-road-friendly luxury vehicle to compete against the Bentley Bentayga and other ultra-lux SUVs. So far this year, Rolls-Royce has been surprisingly open with plans and information about Project Cullinan, but expect that to change as the design and powertrain become more production-ready.

Rolls Royce SUV

2018 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full review of the Rolls Royce SUV here.

Press Release

In its open letter on 18 February this year, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars gave an undertaking to inform stakeholders of the progress of Project Cullinan. Keeping this promise, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has today published photographs depicting the first key milestone in the vehicle’s development programme. The photographs are of the first engineering mule, which will be seen on public roads this week.

Rolls Royce Begins Development Of "Project Cullinan" High Resolution Wallpaper quality
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This early engineering mule, based on a shortened Phantom Series II body, has been created purely to begin the development of an all-wheel drive suspension system that will deliver a ride that will be Effortless … Everywhere. The body may hint at the size of the new car, but it features no design aspects of the eventual high-sided, all-terrain motor car announced by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in February this year.

The mule rides on the first iteration of an all-new suspension that will assist Rolls-Royce engineers in developing a final all-wheel drive system that delivers Rolls-Royce’s hallmark “magic-carpet” ride not only on the road, but off-road too.

The first series of tests will focus on Project Cullinan’s on-road behaviour from suspension throw to high-bodied stability, and will test the new suspension across all types of international road surface specification at test facilities, as well as on public roads. Test surfaces will include; Belgian Pavé, cobblestones, corrugated concrete, noise development and measurement surfaces, resonance road, and acceleration bumps.

Rolls Royce Begins Development Of "Project Cullinan" High Resolution
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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 unrivalled ride quality on loose surfaces and challenging terrain as they do on the road today.

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