Rolls-Royce’s newly appointed and Dubai-based Regional Director César Habib takes up the reins at the illustrious marque during a propitious era. Phantom, Ghost, Wraith and Dawn models are well established leaders in their field, and they’re now joined by Cullinan – the first four-wheel drive car in the marque’s history.

As 2018 draws to a close our Managing Director, Zeina Mokaddam, sat with César and mulled over his first end-of-term report. 

Where are the unchanging elements and ethos that define every Rolls-Royce that simply had to be carried forward to the Cullinan? 

Rolls-Royce Cullinan is Rolls-Royce like never before. When Sir Henry Royce said, “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it”, he could have had Cullinan in mind. 

Rolls-Royce patrons couldn’t find what they really wanted in the SUV market. Cullinan is a response to fulfilling their demand as they do not accept limitations or compromises in their lives. 

When you look at Cullinan you instantly realise that you are standing before a high bodied Rolls-Royce. Cullinan shares the DNA of all Rolls-Royce vehicles like the “Magic Carpet Ride”, exterior lines and interior design. Inside, the cabin of Cullinan combines authentic Rolls-Royce luxury with simple, symmetrical functionality to express the car’s inherent strength. 

It’s taller than the automobiles that may be considered ‘competitors’. What’s the secret behind the Cullinan’s extraordinary stability on all surfaces? 

Cullinan is 5,341mm long and the secret behind its stability is the fact that it’s been delivered by exceptional engineering from RRMC team of over 500 dedicated experts! Moreover, the improved drivetrain and the latest generation of self-levelling air suspension take Cullinan passengers on the celebrated Rolls-Royce ‘Magic Carpet Ride’. Four wheel steering technology and of course the Architecture of Luxury enhance the smoothness of the ride. ‘Effortless, Everywhere’ is not just the promise behind Cullinan. It’s the fact. 

How can we expect to see the Cullinan evolve? More sporty or more luxurious? We suggest that both will be difficult to achieve. How will Rolls-Royce raise the bar again? 

Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the most versatile, family oriented, fun-to-drive, super-luxury SUV available today. We have already set a benchmark with Cullinan, the Rolls-Royce of SUVs. 

The patrons are the new pioneers, and for them it’s about their sense of adventure and daring in how they live their experiences. This approach to life demands a motor car that can go anywhere in ultimate luxury and style – Rolls-Royce style. 

Whoever you are and however you see your brand, design (and staying ahead of the pack) is king. What were 2018’s key design landmarks for Rolls-Royce? 

At Rolls-Royce, we strive for perfection every day. 2018 has definitely seen some remarkable innovations, the most astounding of which being the first Rolls-Royce sports utility vehicle. The Rolls-Royce Collective have also revolutionised the iconic starlight headliner as well as the interior wood veneer with the Wraith Luminary Collection; indeed, the illuminated wood panels as well as the shooting star headliner redefine the ambience that surrounds Rolls- Royce occupants. Nevertheless, each motor car is distinctively Rolls- Royce – from the exterior geometry to the fine materials adorning the interior and the hand-crafted Spirit of Ecstasy, patrons are bound to instantly recognise the level of luxury characteristic to the marque. 

Rolls-Royce’s famed ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ can now go off-road as a result of the new Cullinan’s aluminium architecture. The self-levelling suspension makes millions of calculations every second.

First and foremost, you’re in the luxury business. Part of maintaining luxury is, perhaps, in limiting supply. How do you balance commercial demands (i.e. increasing sales) with the demands of prestige (i.e. no over-exposure)? 

As the world’s leading luxury house and pinnacle motor car manufacturer we will not be chasing volume – a Rolls-Royce is a rare and precious item. Rolls-Royce will and must remain exceptional and exclusive and this is what our customers demand. Our success is built on long-term sustainable growth. 

In September we published an article by Torsten Müller-Ötvös where he wrote about bespoke. One comment he made was “With so many Rolls-Royce customers demanding unique, one-off motor cars, we did not want to be tied to inherited architecture from our parent company, BMW.” Perhaps you could expand on this thought a little. 

The Architecture of Luxury is a very good example here, it is an entirely new, specially engineered aluminium architecture that will inform production of all future Rolls-Royces. 

Cullinan is the second Rolls-Royce to benefit from the new architecture. The Architecture of Luxury is an exclusively engineered 

technology for Rolls-Royce and stands as a significant statement of intent and confidence in the success of the next great chapter in the marque’s contemporary renaissance.

Unlike mass-luxury manufacturers this has no relation with the marque’s parent company BMW Group and will serve to afford the marque with unprecedented levels of flexibility throughout the second chapter of its renaissance. 

Which areas of your motor cars are most often requested to be ‘Bespoke’?

Commissioning a Rolls-Royce motor car transcends the need of mere mobility; the commissioning process is a memorable experience in itself as Rolls-Royce endows patrons with the freedom to express their interests, passions and lifestyles on a blank canvas. In light of virtually unlimited choices, the final creation is an entirely unique Rolls-Royce motor car that guards a special place in one’s heart. Stories are often told throughout the motor car, from specially created embroidery, to paint, which has been embellished with fine materials, such as gold, silver and crushed diamonds. 

Some patrons choose to adorn their interiors with exotic leathers and precious gemstones – recent examples include sapphires, emeralds and diamonds! However, Bespoke is not only an aesthetic revolution, it can also be an engineering reconfiguration. A Rolls-Royce motor car can elegantly adapt to patrons’ requirements, be it the incorporation of a humidor, a safe or a scent bottle. As such, owning a Rolls-Royce is nothing short of a lifestyle enhancement as it is tailor-made to owners’ precise specification. 

Are there any requests you’ve refused on the grounds of poor taste?

Taste is very much subjective and informed by local trends and architecture. We do not judge their preferences. However, the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designers adopt a consultancy role in their interactions with customers. To ensure that they can clearly visualise the commission from the outset, patrons are guided on the best combinations of materials and colours to enhance their original idea. As such, the satisfaction of our patrons is paramount to our mission. 

Quintessentially Rolls-Royce, ‘The Architecture of Luxury’ delivers superlative engineering based around the complete, immersive luxury experience. The power and performance of Cullinan is delivered in a smooth, silent and sublime ride over any terrain. 

What, for you, would be the ultimate bespoke Rolls-Royce?

All Rolls-Royce motor cars allow grandiose standards of Bespoke personalisation. Phantom, our flagship motor car, is a particularly prolific oasis of inspiration with its unparalleled Gallery. Indeed, this uninterrupted application of glass across the fascia allows customers to commission and exhibit artwork, within their motor car. 

From fine art, to contemporary, 3D-printed sculptures, the Gallery allows patrons extraordinary opportunities for Bespoke personalisation. Another recent example of Rolls-Royce Bespoke is Sweptail. The result of a collaboration between patron and artisan, Sweptail’s bold design embraces the marque’s heritage as the world’s leading coachbuilder whilst masterfully fulfilling a customer’s coachbuilt dream. 

How’s your business looking in Kuwait? What are the areas you’re currently focusing on in the showroom? What can we expect to see from you and your local partner Ali Alghanim Automotive in Kuwait during 2019?

Business in general is looking good and 2019 will be a great year for us, Rolls-Royce Cullinan is the most anticipated car of 2018 and, quite possibly, the most anticipated Rolls-Royce of all time. Response from our customers and prospects, the media and fans of the brand has been overwhelmingly positive. The order books for Cullinan are also exceptionally strong and already stretch well into 2019. Phantom is the pinnacle of Rolls-Royce and it is doing well. Ghost Wraith, Dawn and their Black Badge variants are all in a very good shape.

In Kuwait, we are nearly sold out for 2019 Cullinan production; this mirrors exactly our expectations for Kuwait.

You’ll find more about Cullinan online at passionsarabia.com as well as manifested by the marque  itself on Instagram here: @rollsroycemotors and through #cullinan