Cut-price Cullinan: affordable alternatives to the Rolls-Royce SUV

Can't afford the £240,000 Rolls-Royce SUV? See these alternatives that offer opulence at a fraction of the price

Leon Poultney
Oct 31, 2018

It includes heated arm rests, has a crystal decanter on the options list and is named after the most expensive diamond ever mined, so it’s no surprise that the Rolls-Royce Cullinan costs £240,000 - for the “basic version”.

The first tall and rugged sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that Rolls-Royce has made does lay on the luxury to justify its price. It has a four-wheel drive off-road system and above this, you have the option of a three-person bench seat in the back, or a two First-Class-style “executive seats” that sit either side of a drinks cabinet.

Its interior is coated in faultless leather hides; expertly polished wood and chrome; intricate metal dials and switches; plush wool carpets and a myriad of other opulent trappings.

The self-levelling suspension means the ride is akin to floating on a magic carpet and the soundproofing is so complex, you can conduct a conversation at 90mph (on a German motorway) in whispered tones.

Other Rolls-Royce models are designed on the assumption that the owner will probably sit in the back but the Cullinan is intended for owners to drive themselves to a favoured fly-fishing spot or scrabble to a local shoot.

As a result, the steering feels sharper and more precise than the Ghost and Phantom limousines, making it genuinely easy to drive - despite its size.

Is it worth the money? If you have to ask that question, you probably can't afford a Cullinan but that doesn't mean you have to completely miss out on some of the luxuries coveted by the super rich.

We've collated a list of used vehicles that, while not on in the same league as Cullinan in terms of comfort and finish, boast some of the lavish properties encapsulated by Cullinan, whether it's a pillowy soft ride or a grand interior.

Affordable alternatives to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV

1. Range Rover

Latest Range Rover deals from £28,990
Finance from £1,206 per month

With a quintessentially British badge, a commanding view from the driving seat and dogged off-road capabilities, the Range Rover is arguably the closest thing to a Cullinan for under £100,000.

You’ll need a lot less for a current-generation car with a smooth SDV8 diesel engine and the luxurious trappings of Vogue specification; early models start at £28,990

The craftsmanship can’t match Rolls-Royce levels, but it's excellent value for a full leather interior and a premium Meridian sound system. There's also the option of a built-in TV receiver.

Head and legroom in the rear is magnificent, while the boot is big enough to swallow numerous gun dogs and the various accoutrements associated with expensive hobbies.


2. Mercedes M-Class

The M-Class is often forgotten, as it was renamed GLE, but that’s only of benefit to used car buyers because the car can be snapped up for a very reasonable price.

The Rolls-Royce wipes the floor with this machine in terms of overall luxury but a big, imposing ML350 in AMG trim represents a lot of SUV for the money, both in terms of interior roominess and storage space in the boot.

Many of these models were originally specified by owners with plenty of extras, such as a motorised bootlid, while the 3-litre diesel engine is still very strong in today's world of powerful SUVs.

Plus, being a Mercedes-Benz, it's also enjoyable to drive, blending comfort with a tad of sportiness for when a more spirited drive is on the cards.


3. Volvo XC90

Latest Volvo XC90 deals from £17,495
Finance from £486 per month

The current Volvo XC90 is a family car par excellence but the previous version also featured numerous extravagances and clever touches, and can now be picked up for a very reasonable price.

Prices for 2014 cars start at £17,495 on BuyaCar; find an Executive model for heated front and rear seats, leather throughout the interior, electronic climate control and even a massage function for the front two passengers.

The car includes seven seats (all with three-point safety belt harnesses) and an ingenious integrated booster cushion in the second row for younger children.

Granted, luggage space is tight when all seven seats are in use, but the interior of this vehicle is enormous when the third row is folded flat and positively cavernous when all rear seats are stashed away.


4. Porsche Cayenne

Latest Porsche Cayenne deals from £29,948
Finance from £957 per month

The Porsche Cayenne has been such a success for the German manufacturer that it now produces more high-riding SUVs than sports cars.

For a measly 15 per cent of the Cullinan budget, you could be the proud owner of a 2014 Porsche that packs a premium Burmester high-end surround sound system, heated front and rear seats, powered bootlid and a diesel engine that powers the car from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds.

The big Porsche also offers sharp steering and nimble cornering that the Cullinan just can't match.

Headroom in the rear is limited by the sweeping roofline, but it still feels like a luxurious place to spend a long journey, while the ride is excellent.


5. DS 7 Crossback

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan lives in a world of its own when it comes to interior craftsmanship, but the quirky DS Automobiles (Citroen's premium brand) DS 7 Crossback offers almost as much sparkle.

From the bejewelled bezels and dials, to the diamond stitching and fashion industry-inspired leather finish to the dash, the DS 7 Crossback is claimed to offer Parisian chic and style.

It's possible to pick up a well-specified Prestige model with little more than delivery miles on the clock for the sort of money that will barely cover the optional extras on a Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Cars with Citroen's Active Scan Suspension, have a camera to monitor the road ahead so the suspension can pre-empt bumps and kinks. It’s not as silky smooth as the system on the big Rolls but it does a great job of creating a smooth and relaxing ride.


6. Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

The boxy silhouette of Jeep's baby SUV might be a far cry from the grandeur of the Rolls-Royce, but the Renegade brings built-in robustness and off-road capability.

Entry-level models are available from £9,490 on BuyaCar, or from £0 per month on finance but to tackle terrain like the Cullinan, you need to spend more on the 'Trail Rated' Trailhawk edition, which comes with proper four-wheel drive.

A Selec-Terrain system allows users to flick between Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock settings, while Hill Descent Control and 4WD Low modes make it easy to tackle steep declines with little worry.

In fact, there is a lot of technology shoehorned into this tough little Tonka Toy of a machine, including an automated Active Drive system that flicks between two-wheel and four-wheel-drive when the on-board traction control and yaw sensors deem it necessary.


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