Rolls-Royce has done some crazy things with its first SUV prototype

Behold! The first photos from Rolls-Royce’s hotly anticipated SUV — known inside the company as “Project Cullinan.” This week, Rolls-Royce released the first photos of the prototype mules.

In the automotive world, “mules” are testbeds used to help engineers in the development of new cars. They are usually cobbled together using bit and pieces from existing models. And typically hidden from the public with crazy camouflage patterns.

But Rolls-Royce isn’t having any of that.

The ultra-luxury brand not bothered to camouflage their prototypes — they have actually published photos of them. Very Cool!

The engineering mule in the photo is based on a modified Phantom Series II, but with a shortened wheel based and some extra ground clearance. According to Rolls, the car was created exclusively to test the Cullinan SUV’s all-wheel-drive and suspension system, as the company aims to recreate its signature “magic carpet” ride experience.

This also means that the SUV developed from Project Cullinan will likely not look anything like the mules. Which could explain Rolls’ willingness to show us the photos. Rolls also isn’t calling it an SUV. Rather, it’s a “high-sided, all-terrain motor car” — a HSATMC!

In addition to the added ride height and all-wheel drive, the mules also features exposed quad exhausts and a There’s a massive rear spoiler used to replicate the aerodynamics of an SUV. But it also looks like something a teenager would bolt to the back of a used Honda Civic.

Rolls plans to take the proto-SUV off-road, but given than no-one may ultimately ever test the eventual SUV in dirt and mud, the car maker is going to conduct more sedate tests, on a variety of road surfaces.

Rolls-Royce announced the existence of Project Cullinan earlier this year, but has not provided an official timeline for when the vehicle will reach showrooms. Like the mules, the production SUV, will be based on Phantom mechanic als and will be powered by a massive V12 engine.

As for the engineering mule, once the development process is complete it will likely meet the same fate as most test cars of its type: it will be scrapped.

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