It’s been no secret that Rolls-Royce is working on it first ever SUV, but details of the development have been kept well under cover so far. Now, the Goodwood carmaker has revealed the first official pictures of the SUV, known as Project Cullinan, and has announced the start of public testing. While the spy shots we have received hitherto were all of test mules using existing Rolls-Royce Phantom bodywork, the new photos show the Cullinan in real SUV garb.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which is set to go on sale sometime in 2018, will also start testing the SUV prototype on public roads soon. Cold weather testing will begin right after Christmas in the Arctic Circle, after which the SUV will be coming to the Middle East by summer time next year for some hot weather testing.

The official statement from Rolls-Royce says this the engineering mule of the ‘all-terrain, high-sided vehicle’ features the all-wheel drive suspension system and the all-new aluminium architecture that will underpin all Rolls-Royces from 2018 onwards. So, this is a prototype that’s not only important for the SUV development, but for all future vehicles from the brand.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment in the development of Project Cullinan both for Rolls-Royce and for the patrons of luxury that follow us around the world,” says Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Bringing together the new four-wheel drive system and the new ‘architecture of luxury’ for the first time sets us on the road to creating a truly authentic Rolls-Royce which, like its forebears, will reset the standard by which all other luxury goods are judged.”