Rolls-Royce SUV codenamed Cullinan

A modern Rolls-Royce saloon may already be the size of some SUVs as it is, but the storied British automaker embarked upon a new dawn two weeks ago when it announced it would proceed with developing its first sport-ute. Only it's not calling it a sport-ute, SUV, crossover, off-roader or anything of the sort. It's calling it a "high-bodied car" (which is pretty much what any crossover is, when it comes down to it) that will drive "effortless... everywhere." And now it has a name. Sorta.

The latest news from the UK indicates that the vehicle is being referred to internally as the Cullinan, taking its name from the world's largest diamond gem that adorns the Queen's scepter. Only that's neither the internal codename, strictly speaking, nor is it likely to be its nameplate once it reaches production. The project is codenamed RR31 (apparently as the 31st new model line being developed by the company) and is likely to carry a name more in line with the likes of Wraith, Ghost and Phantom in the brand's spooky nomenclature or draw on a dormant nameplate.

The high-riding Rolls is tipped to launch a new alloy architecture for the company that would be unique to Goodwood's products and be rolled out first on the crossover before serving as the starting point for the next Ghost and Phantom families. Size-wise the SUV would slot in between the two, and likely enough in price position as well. Power would likely come from either the 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 from the Ghost or the larger, older 6.75-liter atmospheric twelve used in the Phantom, but while a diesel was apparently ruled out (primarily due to the fuel's scarcity in certain markets as opposed to the increased NVH levels inherent therein), a hybrid is said to be in the mix.

Though it's focused more on exclusivity than it is on volume, Rolls expects the SUV to bring in new customers and expand its production by around 30 percent or so. But that would be nothing new: The vast majority of Wraith and Ghost buyers have been new to the brand. Look for the crossover to launch in 2017, when it promises to crown the emerging class of high-end luxury crossovers and put even those being launched by the likes of Bentley and Maybach to shame.

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