Recently, I pulled up to a hotel after a long, regrettable four-hour drive across the barren and highway-ridden land that is much of the state of Texas. Out front sat a slate-gray SUV, appropriately positioned for photos from passersby as soon as they noticed the emblem up front and confirmed its authenticity on Google.
“Is that...?” I asked myself, squinting and reaching up to make sure my glasses were on. “No. It can’t be. I must be imagining things.”
But in my heart, I knew it was the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. There was nothing else it could be. It was just so very, disappointingly small. I didn’t want to believe it.
“Cool, right?” a guy outside asked me. I was too dumbfounded to answer.
The Cullinan has been around for just over a year now, filling the “SUV” void in the Rolls-Royce lineup with twin-turbocharged V12 extravagance and a rating of 563 horsepower. Rolls has also apparently been struggling to keep up with demand for the SUV, with order books backed up for months earlier this year.
But I, a person better suited for the more peasant-focused offerings from the car industry, had yet to see one in person. All I had to go on, in my mental sizing of it, was what I’d been introduced to on this thing we call the internet.
From what I’d seen there, the Cullinan was, appropriately, a mammoth. A yacht on wheels, but with squared-off edges. A transport van able to fit Bruce Banner himself, but far too ritzy to let his ripped clothing in the vicinity of. A bus, but Opulent—with a capital “O,” because this is a Rolls-Royce we’re talking about.
But the slate-gray vehicle outside of that hotel was none of those things. It was no mammoth, no geometrically bricked yacht, no bus. It was just another SUV. I was vicariously ashamed.
I circled it like a vulture trying to decide whether its food was dead or not—not wanting to get too close, but squinting in confusion at the sight in front of me. It was a “Cullinan,” in the branding sense, but it wasn’t the Cullinan I’d come to envision over the past year.
It just wasn’t big enough.
In fact, the Cullinan fails so miserably in the “gargantuan size” department that among the other schlubs purporting to be SUVs, it only wins out in one category—and even that win is a tie.
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan should be twice the size of all of those vehicles, if not more. It is a Cullinan, not a Smart ForTwo. We should not be discussing the size of the Cullinan next to other measly SUVs; we should be discussing the size of the Empire State Building next to the Cullinan.
Because we are not, the Cullinan is too small.