Rolls-Royce Project Cullinan tests AWD chassis for new SUV model

By Bob Nagy on April 8, 2015 7:55 AM

Don't be misled by its giant rear wing, this specially modified Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II isn't a secret GT3 racer but an engineering mule created to help develop the all-wheel drive system that will underpin the prestige automaker's upcoming sport utility vehicle. Officially part of Project Cullinan, this initial evaluation prototype is fitted with the first iteration of an all-new suspension being developed by Rolls-Royce engineers to ensure the upcoming SUV - which is due to arrive in 2018 - will be able to deliver the "magic-carpet" ride both on and off road. 

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While Rolls confirms the overall scale of this Project Cullinan vehicle hints at the size of its first-ever SUV model, the two reportedly share no common exterior design elements. Stage one testing of the car is focused on chassis behavior over all types of international road surfaces from Belgian block and cobblestones to corrugated concrete as well dealing with ancillary annoyances like speed bumps. It's intended to assess the suspension's ability to effectively curtail heave and throw motions and remain stable when cornering. Rolls plans to build a small fleet of Project Cullinan engineering mules and will subject all to equal amounts of rigorous testing in both paved and unpaved real-world environments. While the firm had no official comment, that oversized rear wing is believed to help the Project Cullinan sedan body more closely resemble the aerodynamic characteristics of a typical SUV configuration. 

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