Oh man, this is awkward. The new Rolls Royce Cullinan has been revealed as the shiniest, plushest, most expensive SUV featuring ridiculous levels of luxury and a very imposing, yet strangely familiar look.
After the Bentley Bentayga, the Cullinan is supposed to be the second uber-luxurious SUV ever. This assumption, though, is not exactly accurate.
Enter the Bentley Dominator, one of the many coachbuilt models created specifically for the Sultan of Brunei in the 1990s. In a way the Dominator is the world’s true first super-luxury SUV and, by the looks of it, the ancestor of the Bentayga and Cullinan (from 1931 until its acquisition by the VW Group in 1998, Bentley was owned by Rolls-Royce).
OK, no one expected from Rolls Royce to rewrite the design books, but the Cullinan’s shape gave us a pure déjà vu moment when the first images found their way online.
In the ’90s, there were all sorts of stories regarding you were ever fascinated by the Sultan’s huge car collection; yet there were some cars that remained undetected for quite some time.
The Dominator was one of them. No one actually knew it existed up until three years after it was made, when Autocar published a story on it in 1998.
The fact that there so are few and so old images of it only adds to the Dominator’s legend. If you’re old enough to remember, the Dominator came at a time when if you wanted a luxurious off-roader, there was a single option: the Range Rover.
Bentley built in total six examples of the Dominator for the Sultan, including one in red and one in bright yellow. All of them featured the customary chrome trim around the bodywork and rode on chrome wheels, while the completely bespoke interior was lavished in thick leather and the classic wood trim. Judging by the grainy photos, the tailgate was also a split item, just like the car it’s based on.
The Dominator was based on the P38A generation of the Range Rover, making use of its all-wheel drive system too. Some reports say it even uses the same Rover V8 engine, but we can’t tell for sure since the company never released even the slightest piece of information about it.
The new Rolls Royce Cullinan will become one of the most impressive vehicles out there once it hits the roads. However, the Dominator (what a name!) will always be the first ever luxury SUV made in dear ole Blighty.