Egg spoons fell to the tabletop and kippers went uneaten as noblemen across the land gazed in slack-jawed silence at the new Cullinan SUV high-bodied car unveiled by Rolls-Royce this morning.
It’s a vehicle so excessive in its dimensions and interior trappings, even long-deceased kings might find it gauche. Or, perhaps, just the right thing with which to ferry their corpulence from one sherry-stained dinner function to another. Polarizing, to say the least. One internet wag remarked that the Cullinan resembled a hearse with a backseat.
Regardless of how you feel about it, no one’s going to deny that Rolls-Royce now stands regally atop the luxury SUV hill, gazing down upon its lesser rivals with contempt. Clearly, the thought of the century-old British automaker pulling this off must have ground Lagonda’s gears, as the recently revived British luxury marque sought to get out in front of the introduction with an announcement of its own.
It seems the rivalry didn’t end after a testy spat earlier this year.
You’ll recall the war of words between RR and Aston Martin’s Lagonda brand. The returning marque claimed RR was a dusty old fogey with no new ideas, while RR countered by saying Aston Martin had “no clue” what ultra-luxury buyers like, and no clue how to attract them.
It was posh and scrappy all at the same time.
The two marques offer vastly different interpretations of what a luxury vehicle can be. With an upcoming production vehicle inspired by its Blade Runner-esque Lagonda Vision Concept (revealed earlier this year in Geneva), Lagonda hopes to attract a new type of super-premium buyer. The type attracted to radical, cutting-edge design. The type that isn’t afraid of kicking tradition to the curb and embracing new technologies.
Rolls-Royce, on the other hand, is all about dignified wood trim and suicide doors and positively Edwardian plushness. Beneath the long hoods of its cars beat multi-cylindered hearts powered by “gasoline.”
So, it wasn’t a surprise to see Lagonda issue a press release on May 9th, a day before the Cullinan’s reveal, touting great things to come in the insanely premium utility vehicle field. A “radical, sector-defining zero-emission SUV” will debut in 2021, the automaker claimed, one “exclusively driven by zero emission powertrain technologies.”
The new vehicle “will uphold all the qualities of the reinvented super-luxury marque,” it continued, promising an updated take on the design language seen on the Vision Concept. The image released Thursday shows a vehicle with the same overall shape, but even less side glass than the concept. Essentially, it’s a concept based on a concept.
“In reviving one of the most iconic names in motoring we have created a unique opportunity,” said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer in a statement. “One that allows us to cast aside an inherited 20th century approach and instead design cars around 21st century demands and desires. The Lagonda SUV is the first of its kind: a spacious, high-performance 4×4 that successfully reconciles a love of technology, luxury and style.”
Apparently, modern luxury buyers won’t feel the need to peer out the side of their cars. While the design will surely change come production, it’s incredibly amusing to see these two old Brits going at it. To the best of our knowledge, RR hasn’t responded to Lagonda’s attempt at one-upping its debut. Really, it doesn’t need to. The Cullinan itself is all the ammo RR needs to fight its resurrected rival.
[Image: Aston Martin]