Taking Rolls-Royce's first luxury SUV through the tough terrain of the California and Nevada deserts.
It is only fitting that on the same day that two women made history with the very first all-female space-walk that another pair of women were also making history in a different way. Emme Hall, driver, and Rebecca Donaghe, navigator, teamed up to pilot a Rolls-Royce Cullinan while competing in the all-female Rebelle Rally, the longest off-road navigational rally in the United States. Back for its fourth year, the 2019 Rebelle Rally sent 50 teams navigating their way through the deserts of California and Nevada.
Not only is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan the automaker's very first luxury SUV, but it is also their first all-wheel-drive vehicle. The luxury SUV was named appropriately after the Cullinan Diamond, the largest quality rough diamond to ever be unearthed.
Hall and Doneghe, dubbed "Team 200", took the luxury Rolls-Royce SUV on an arduous 8-day journey that covered 2,300 kilometers (1,429 miles) off tough terrain including dangerous sand dunes, mountains, salt flats, valleys, and everything in between. The "Effortless Everywhere" vision for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan was a proven true statement by this adventurous duo.
While competing, the convenience of cell phone GPS was replaced with the old-school way of navigating. Remember Rand McNally? In addition, the 50 participants use compasses in conjunction with road maps as they race against the clock and search for hidden checkpoints along the way to their nightly destination. Each completed checkpoint adds points to the teams' totals. Although, speed is not a factor when it come to car rallies. In fact, in most rallies, getting pulled by the law are grounds for disqualification.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan proved more than worthy when conquering the road less traveled. However, the tires took a beating while maneuvering the rocks and paths of the unforgiving California desert. Because of that, the team was forced to use the only two original spares during the last two days.
Returning champions from the 2018 Rebelle Rally, Hall and Donaghe have been competing together since 2016. Actually, both were participants in the very first Rebelle Rally when it was first created four years prior. Emma Hall is an automotive journalist from Oakland, and Rebecca Donaghe is a producer that moved from Houston to reside in Marina Del Rey.
So, what about the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan? Introduced alongside the 2017 Phantom, the Cullinan uses a super stiff all-aluminum architecture what is known as the Architecture of Luxury which offers a comfortable ride while tackling the toughest of terrains. This new underpinning is full of technology and will allow for a variety of future models with different traction systems, control systems, and industry electric drive. The SUV features a tail gate, a first in series production for the company. Known for their "Magic Carpet Ride" drivetrain, Rolls-Royce engineers ensured the same quality while conquering the off-road.
Powering the luxury SUV is a 6.75-liter V12 engine backed by an 8-speed transmission that is capable of anticipating upcoming gear shifts by using the Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT). A self-leveling air suspension senses loss of traction and keeps all four tires planted down. Larger air struts and an electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system were installed to keep everything handling smoothly. A double-wishbone axle can be found up front while the rear axle is a 5-link. Last but not least, an "everywhere" button can be found. One push of this button brings the Cullinan into ultimate off-road mode and set it to conquer a variety of elements including rough track, gravel, wet grass, mud, snow, or sand. An impressive 627 lb/ft of torque spin all four wheels with ease, and it offers a deep wading depth of 21-inches.
Inside the car features a four-camera system with Panoramic view, helicopter view, visibility all around, night vision, and night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning. Even more, it features active cruise control, collision warning, cross-traffic warning, and lane departure with lane change warning. Of course it features the latest when it comes to entertainment and navigation, and it has an industry-leading high-resolution head-up display.
If you have never participated in a car rally, you may want to go ahead and add one to your bucket list if you haven't already. It's the perfect opportunity to embark on a new adventure, make a few new friends, and take in some breath-taking sights. Sure, you can catch some scenic sights from your couch on the Travel Channel, but there is nothing like being surrounded by it in the moment. Even more, it's a memory that will forever be embedded in your soul.
(PHOTO CREDIT is in the title for each image, please credit: Nicole Dreon, Paulo Baraldi, Richard Giordano, Tim Calver)