The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to one of the most well-known sand dunes on Earth, Moreeb Dune. The challenging landscape of that, and other dunes across the nation’s landscape are punishing on even the best of off-roaders. This includes the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
A Cullinan owner from the UAE recently put his Rolls-Royce SUV to the test, pushing its Magic Carpet Ride ride and promised “effortless everywhere” drive experience to the limit. Thankfully, it was all captured on video and in photos (see below).
Led by the car’s illuminated Spirit of Ecstasy, the car awakens from its parking area and hits the road. Pavement rolls out in front of the black Cullinan as it speeds down a patch of asphalt between two horizons of golden sand. Suddenly, the viewer is taken off-road, onto the sand, where the Cullinan hightails it across a flat patch as sand is thrown from under the tires and spewed toward the camera. Drifting commences, in slow motion and real time, with sand dancing around the SUV like water from the Bellagio’s fountains. Cullinan ascends a dune, rides along the ridge, the sun sets.
While the video is possible thanks to a number of different video techniques, the drive is possible thanks to Cullinan’s engineering. The drivetrain of the Cullinan was engineered to do just one key job explained Caroline Krismer, Engineering Project Leader for the Cullinan upon its debut in 2018, “To bring the famed Rolls-Royce ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ to all other terrains possible, while ensuring class-leading on-road behaviour in the SUV sector.”
The famous Magic Carpet Ride benefits from Cullinan’s lightweight platform, dubbed the Architecture of Luxury, and self-leveling air suspension. There’s larger struts on the Cullinan than there are in other Rolls-Royces as well as four-wheel drive. The bespoke automaker reworked their customary 6.75-liter V12 engine to deliver more torque at lower revs, a key to off-roading success.
The suspension makes millions of calculations every second to continuously vary the electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system. The double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle delivers control over lateral forces ensuring stability. Rolls-Royce describes how the system operates specifically under off-road conditions: “The electronically controlled shock absorber adjustment system uses an air compression system to actively push down any wheel it detects losing traction to ensure every wheel is constantly in contact with the ground and maximum torque is being provided to all wheels.”