There are two things every young man should experience in their lives; the other is welcoming the dawn in a Rolls-Royce Dawn.
Sitting in the front seat, canvas top down, in the starry dark of the Al Ain desert a few kilometres from our hosts the Al Maha Desert Resort, the night breeze dropped in the few moments before dawn as the overhead glaucous green light of the false pre-dawn crept into the edge of one’s vision. It was just enough to make out the long elegant line of the bonnet, dark on dark, tapering towards the where the horizon should be.
Visible at the edge of vision but disappearing when looked for directly, the gauzy transparent phantasm of the Sprit of Ecstasy iconic of Rolls-Royce teased ones eyes.
Behind the distant horizon, the green had imperceptibly slowly transformed into a haze of the most delicate pink, little more then the black of night blushing. Dawn had arrived, and the Rolls-Royce Dawn was there to welcome it.
“The name ‘Dawn’ perfectly suggests the fresh opportunities that every new day holds – an awakening, an opening up of one’s senses and a burst of sunshine. In its tentative, inchoate, anticipatory state, dawn is the world coming to light from the ethereal dark of the night. The early-day chill of dawn provides an erotic tingle on the skin, awakening the senses and passions as the day begins,” says Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. This interpretation of the Rolls-Royce Dawn experience he got absolutely right.
“Quite simply, it is the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built.” This part one feels he did not. The description degrades somehow the craftsmanship, design passion and the magnificence of the engineering that underpin the company and produced the Dawn. It runs counter to the traditions of a company whose name has entered English as a mark of ultimate quality. Pop divas and pole dancers aspire to be sexy; some may be. Rolls-Royce never has nor should aspire to that status. It’s a Rolls-Royce for heaven’s sake!
The Dawn is about the experience of new hope, facing the new day perfectly prepared in the finest convertible automobile built and becoming part of the environment with the retractable roof down, yet supported and nurtured in a cocoon of pure luxury.
It is a strange yet elemental experience, inspirational and quite unforgettable.
The Dawn makes no compromises to the 2+2 configuration associated with drophead coupés. It is a full four seat two-door car. “In the world of Rolls-Royce, day to day mathematical norms don’t always apply. In the case of the new Rolls-Royce Dawn, 2+2 does not equal 4,” says Giles Taylor, Director of Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
Neither is the Dawn a natural extension of an existing Rolls model. Although inspired by the ultra rare 1952 Silver Dawn, eighty percent of the body panels on the 2016 are unique to the model. A casual glance will not reveal them, but the sensuously smooth yet muscular lines of the car are redolent of Rolls-Royce design, but subtly different.
Dawn’s powerful and striking front yields it a sensuous yet edgy, almost masculine look whilst the bold sweeping shoulder line becomes more sensuous as it flows over the swell of the rear wheels, that accommodate a 24mm wider track. A tapered ‘wake channel’ on the bonnet, emanating from the Spirit of Ecstasy’s wings, evokes the sight of a jet’s vapour trail, hinting at the Dawn’ dynamism. With its high shoulder line, two to one wheel diameter to body height ratio, massive C-pillar and horizontally narrow side window aperture, when viewed from side-on and roof up, the echoes the raw street power of a ‘hot rod’.
The overall effect is of preparedness, determined power and purpose in the garb of pure silk. It looked as perfectly at home in the open desert as it had in the glamorous and fashionable portico of the Waldorf Astoria, Dubai where our journey had started. A car for all seasons and environments.
The interior is what Rolls-Royce describe as a ‘slingshot’ architecture, “a barchetta, pulled back, poised and ready to launch the occupants of the car to the horizon, even whilst stationary”. Essentially, the wrap-round feel of the truly sumptuous leather interior is emphasised by the stainless steel trim running around the upper edge of the open cabin.
Instruments, woodwork have achieved new levels of craftsmanship with a porous book-page matching of grains with the arrowed grain pointing forward to hint a at the latent positive energy of the Dawn.
It is the roof that Rolls are particularly proud of. Two key techniques were employed to ensure the roof not only appears beautiful and sensuous in its form, but also contributes to the silence of the car in its function. A perfectly smooth surface, combined with an innovative tailored ‘French Seam’ ensures that the airflow over the car with the roof up creates no noticeable wind noise. Inside, the Rolls-Royce Dawn is as silent as a Rolls-Royce Wraith – a first in convertible motoring. When the roof is raised, the Dawn is quite simply, the quietest open-top car ever made.
Secondly, the actual opening and closing of the roof mechanism had to be both beautiful and unobtrusive at the same time. The engineering team even went so far as to invent a phrase for what they wished to achieve with the roof mechanism. The Silent Ballet.
It takes just 22 seconds with nary a whisper to open the roof, and it can be achieved at speeds of up to 88kph.
Below decks, so to speak, is the beloved twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 powertrain. With a power output of 563bhp or 420kW @ 5,250rpm and a torque rating of 780Nm or 575 lb ft at1, 500rpm, Dawn’s driving experience is exceptional.
This experience is enhanced by dynamic accelerator pedal mapping, which delivers up to 30percent increased response at medium throttle.
Dawn maintains Rolls-Royce’s typical steering characteristics providing superb driver feedback thereby ensuring that the car is effortless but precise to drive, while also providing a great sense of safety, even at higher speeds, no matter if the top is up or down.
The result is that the new Dawn is Rolls-Royce’s most powerful full four-seat drophead motor car to date, and thanks to its advanced engineering is lighter and more fuel efficient than the majority of compromised 2+2 convertibles in the market.
More importantly, all the power a driver needs is delivered effortlessly and without fuss. The car does not so much accelerate – it’s just that the landscape passes more rapidly.
The Dawn is not so much a car, but the realisation of a dawn inspiration come true and one that can and should be shared.