NEW Rolls-Royce Dawn. DRIVEN, UAE

Engine Power Torque 0-100kph Top speed Weight Basic price
V12, twin-turbo, 6592cc 563bhp @ 5250rpm 575lb ft @ 1500rpm 4.9secs 250kph 2560kg (220bhp/ton) 'More than sufficient'
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HIGH RES downloadable wallpapers available HERE

Certainly, when I put my foot down in very civilised anger for the first time, the eagerness of the delivery is stark. Double R’s local team is insistent – albeit very politely – that we leave the traction control on at all times. Puppy dog eyes didn’t seem to budge them, nor does explaining that “it’s as easy as Settings, Traction, Off, see?” As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. Turbos spinning, engine revving to 5,000rpm and the ‘remaining power gauge’ approaching zero, the performance is a far cry from your head-of-sindustry typical Rolls-Royce. I’m suddenly propelled back into the lush contours of the leather seat, my ears met with a slightly more visceral growl from the V12. Turns out this sofa on wheels has a dark side. Speed gain is vertiginous whilst the sensation is still Cognac Napoleon, 60 to 140kph checked from the list in the blink of an eye. Any and all motorists behind me now have their work cut-out to catch up, unless they own a Corvette Stingray.

The comfort-configured suspension is not your best partner for this type of driving, especially through the corners. Through the corners then the Dawn has a tendency to roll and complain, but it holds steady to rudder inputs quite well. Just don’t expect to hit any apices because the steering is as numb as your left arm after falling asleep on it, and obviously there is no Sport mode to ramp up weight at the helm. As a result, the nose floats rather than dives under hard turn-in, though solid grip both front and rear means you’re unlikely to stuff the Spirit of Ecstasy into a sand bank. It may not give you much confidence through the corners, but much like the V12, the unbelievably smooth delivery means you can carry more speed than you might think plausible: like the colour scheme, it shouldn’t work, but it does.

Rolls-Royce Dawn crankandpiston-2

Rolls Royce has also embedded a GPS-based eight-speed gearbox control, which balances your driving style with what’s up ahead, choosing the gear you are most likely to need. It’s an impressive addition, but a pair of paddles would probably work better and avoid the half a second it takes for the power to arrive. It’s a reminder of the kind of luxury model we’re driving. The soft suspension for instance dips the front like a boat in a storm, and though the big brakes stop the Dawn suprisingly effectively, once on the move, the Rolls would much rather keep on going than pause to admire the scenery.

There is another elephant in the room I would like to address too: the price.

It’s a touchy subject with Rolls, harbouring as it does, a philosophy of ‘if you have to ask…’ combined with a telephone book of options that ramp that ballpark figure up yet further to ‘well, if you REALLY have to ask’. Enough arms have been twisted though to reveal the Dawn costs in the region of $405,000, making it – as far as we can tell – probably the most expensive convertible outside a Bugatti Veyron or a Pagani Zonda. A bit on the high side for a car, but if you consider that you have over 1,400 people at Goodwood making close to 5,000 cars a year, it becomes relative.

Rolls-Royce Dawn crankandpiston-6

So then, we’re back to the ‘momentous occasion’ that is the launch of a brand new Rolls-Royce. Ultimately, does the Dawn live up to the hype that’s been built up?

In terms of build, it’s typical Rolls-Royce meticulousness, so that’s a no brainer: the cabin is more refined and comfortable than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. Similarly the exterior design is another knockout, the Rolls-Royce ‘face’ difficult to miss but the striking profile of the Dawn denotes a character that’s not ‘just’ Rolls-Royce. It would be easy, given that its sits alongside the coupe on the company’s line-up, to lump the Dawn in as a convertible Wraith, but that to me would be rather missing the point.

At the heart of the convertible lies the luxurious design, spectacular ride quality and head-turning cachet of any Rolls-Royce. And yet at the same time, there’s urgent yet civilised power delivery from the V12, questionable practicality for a traditional Rolls owner, and a sense of flamboyance we rarely see from the epitome of luxury motoring. There resides within the same civility of a Rolls-Royce albeit with a heightened sense of joie de vivre: it is supposed to be a younger, more social and sportier Rolls for the affluent in sneakers, and in many ways it is. Truly that really does mark the Dawn of a new era for Rolls-Royce.

Oh come on, you KNEW I’d use that at some point…

HIGH RES downloadable wallpapers available HERE

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