The latest avatar from the famous Goodwood address brings open-top motoring eloquence to the rich and famous!
In life, few things give one that ultimate gratification, to some it may be buying a house, to others sending their kids to college, and to an overwhelming lot, it maybe purchasing a very expensive, very exclusive car, yacht or plane. And speaking of the latter, there aren’t too many examples of motor vehicles that one can associate with the term besides the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and a few others.
To explore more on the topic of gratification, we borrowed the keys to the latest, most compact rendering of motoring royalty – here is the 2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn review. And from the moment took the saddle, we expected only epic journeys to grocery and elsewhere with the tune of Etta James “At last” playing in the background. Here is our story on the car!
DESIGN & AESTHETICS
The Dawn is only the 3rd convertible model in the marque’s storied 100-year history. And although the moniker may seem new and unfamiliar – especially considering that the current models in the range share a name with supernatural entities like the Ghost, Wraith and Phantom, ‘Dawn’ or rather, ‘Silver Dawn’ dates back to the early 1950s.
Rolls-Royce states that the average age of their customer has dropped from 55 years to 45 years, thanks to more youthful offerings such as the Wraith coupe and Ghost sedan. But if you wanted a convertible you had to take on the sheer magnitude – in size and in price – of the ostentatious Phantom Drophead Coupe and that isn’t anyone’s cup of tea. Hence, the Dawn was born. With dimensions such as 5285 mm length, 1947 mm width and 1502 in height it still is a massive rolling structure in steel; and with a base price AED 1,300,000 it is still expensive…but relatively digestible.
To delineate the Dawn is to delineate your typical but rare Rolls-Royce proportions. It’s got that long bonnet extending much beyond the windshield, a short front overhang and an elegantly executed tapering long rear overhang. It also maintains their basic design principle i.e. the 2:1 ratio of the wheel height to body height. The styling is so dynamic, even when still, the Dawn represents a moment in motion.
The rising beltline has a stainless steel waist line finisher that wraps around the cabin and deck that covers the soft top when stowed. This metal feature works in conjunction with more stainless steel elements like the door handles, light surrounds, polished wheels and visible exhausts to renders a polished jewel-like outlook.
Rolls-Royce states that 80% of the body panels are unique to the Dawn and that’s quite unfortunate, because to the untrained eye it looks like the Wraith convertible – it would have been smarter to give it a new face or rump. In comparison to the Wraith, the front grille is recessed by 45mm and the lower front bumper has been extended 53mm; and the pronounced rear flanks reflect a widened rear track by 24mm wider compared to Ghost, gives it a more planted, sleeker profile. The car’s 180mm shorter wheelbase, helps too!
And finally the highlight of any convertible is the soft-top. It is a 6-layer folding contraption that mimics the silhouette of a coupe. It brings complete harmony to the design almost completely avoiding the ugly concave areas or sharp struts seen in other convertible tops. The whole act of dropping or raising the soft-top or as Rolls would like to call it ‘Silent Ballet’ can be achieved in a brisk 22 seconds upto a cruising speeds of 50 km/h. Lucky for occupants, the Dawn will deploy a concealed roll-over protection system from behind the rear head restraints in just a fraction of a second, if the drive goes wayward.
The soft-top opens up to showcase four individual bucket seats, which means all of the occupants get unparalleled comfort – no seat sharing is necessary. These leather clad cossetting chairs fit a large frame and are set in a cabin that surrounded by more genuine stainless steel, wood and leather. So much is customizable but expensive. The opening of the top also exposes the wood on the deck, selected by the customer to suit taste, with large portions of it seemingly flowing down like the ‘Waterfall’ between the rear seats.
Climbing aboard was a gracious act thanks to the rear-hinged doors as opposed to the front-hinged doors, we see in cars today. That being said, we were enthralled and cautious about placing our shoes over the softest, most plush lamb carpets they have on the floor. Thoughtfully they have stitched a leather patch on it so that it remains clean.
The steering wheel is a lovely gesture of the past – a leather wrapped apparatus that is anything but chunky. It is a large diameter with a thin rims designed for the unworked hands of the aristocrat. The instrument now have individually applied polished metal chaplets around the dials replicating the precision design of exquisite watches. We found them to be easy on the eye – legible and elegant. In addition, you can also have a good look at the time with the new clock design featuring the ‘Dawn’ moniker.
Besides more stainless steel elements like the circular air vents and organ pull air controls and large expenses of wood on the dash you also have a party trick in store. Hidden behind the central panel of wood is a 10.25” high-definition screen sourced from BMW ofcourse, which can be revealed with a touch of a button. Rolls have tried to make it their own by giving on-screen lettering on menus, unique fonts.
BMW has also endowed the Dawn with the iDrive-like controller, only this time it features the Spirit of Ecstasy on the glassy surface. It’s that rotary knob that recognizes handwriting is many languages including Latin, Arabic and Mandarin, You can finger-drawn onto its surface your media or navigation choices or perhaps use voice activated controls if you prefer.
It certainly is a cabin of calm, one that you can sink into and remain in for hours. Do note that with the top down it allows for easier access to the rear cabin.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
As spooky as Rolls-Royce names have been; and even as you drive solo …you are never alone. Eleanor Thornton, the probable inspiration behind the front-leaning Spirit of Ecstasy, keeps us company through our epic journeys like a jeweled fixture atop the Dawn’s grille. It pops and with the click of the button or when you lock the car. It can be had in gold plated, silver or even frosted glass.
From the moment you place your hands on the wheel to exiting the cabin there is a grand sense of composure that you own, felt especially during the drive where the Dawn, even with its immense power, prefers to builds speed in a very composed and relaxed manner. The Wraith is certainly a Rolls you can take to the drag strip but this Dawn isn’t a slouch either. Yes the car will dance to the tune of 563 horses produced by a massive direct injection 6.6-litre V12 if you put your foot down firmly, allowing it to be dispatched to a 100 km/h in 5 seconds flat.
The 8-speed ZF gearbox is a near-silky smooth transmission that takes you from ratio to ratio seamlessly and like the Wraith which debuted in 2013, this is a Satellite Aided Transmission that check into the GPS and prepares the gearbox for the turn or straight ahead.
Surprisingly, at 2560kg it is some 100+plus kgs heavier than the Wraith. But somehow, Rolls has negated floppiness of the chassis, by reducing aerodynamic lifts in front and rear and, lowering the lower centre of gravity, and recalibrating the air springs and active roll bars to deliver a decent handling. The car still rolls when you take turn at speed and dives when braked hard and squats when accelerates but for its sheer mass, it a miracle it maintains such composure. When you steer into a tight space, do keep in mind the 12.7 metre turning radius. Sure, many motorist won’t mind slowing or waiting it out for a car like this, but a 5-point U- turn but it is not something you want to do every day.
Driving this is a bit of a contradiction. Yes the 330g/km it emits is 4 times more than the Prius we drove last week, but these cars are bought people these industrials and entrepreneurs that capable of making big economic and environment impact. With a positive hope, we think its not a bad score, neither is the very honest 14.4l/100km fuel economy figure!
The working between the mammoth metal casing of a cabin and the optional 10-spoke 21-inch wheels is a height adjustable air suspension that can soak up bumps and flatten bumps with authority. It is as magical a ride you’d get.
FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY
As massive as it may look the Dawn isn’t as practical as your typical family car, but it isn’t too sparse, like a supercar. The compartment with underlying carpet will hold upto 295 litres with the top up and with the top down – the soft top definitely eats into that number still allowing for 244 litres of space, enough for the typical full-size LV luggage. Ofcourse being runflat means you get added space but would lack a spare tyre.
Hidden in the door frame is a sword-style umbrella matching the exterior and interior paint scheme to help you to your destination without getting wet or in this region getting instant tan. It is however, 900 dollars piece of equipment, so try not forget it someplace.
There is plenty of gadgetry but not much more than what you would get in a BMW 7-Series. You have the head-up display and heat detection system that detects both human and animal heat signatures, automatic Cruise Control system, blind spot monitoring etc.
The entertainment focus is on the 16-speaker audio system which you might have trouble finding all of them if you go on a speaker hunt. It serves up great clarity and loudness of music. And ofcouse, if the local RJ bores you, you also have plug in play your own mixes through Bluetooth and USB ports.
Even with the top down the air conditioner blew in cool air for as long as it could. This by the way is not recommended so don’t try it in your convertible. It’s just going to use a lot of battery and burn up the condenser.
The Rolls-Royce, as once described, is a grandest of grand piano rolling down the street. It is a vision, a concoction of the best material, modern conveniences and vintage design married together by precision hand-craftsmanship. The 2017 Rolls Royce Dawn is a scale down version of that, but still large vehicle one that gives customers that option of burning under the summer solstice without hurting cabin comfort with the top up and without violating hairstyles with the top down. It’s the ultimate expression of the driver’s car in its most opposite manner yet.
The company only produced 28 editions of the Silver Dawn with the first one sold to Colonel W.A. Phillips in Canada.
Body type: 2+2-seater; 5-door ultra-premium convertible
Engine: Front-engine; turbocharged 6.6-litre V12; rear-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Peak output: 563 bhp @ 5,250 – 6,000 rpm; 820 Nm @ 1,500 – 5,000
Top speed: 250 km/h (electronically limited; claimed)
0-100km/h: 5.0 seconds (estimated)
Price: Starting at AED 1,300,000
Good: Sheer visual grandeur; quiet like a villa by the lake; remarkable craftsmanship; even inculcates etiquette and culture
Bad: Not too different from the Wraith at a glance; need to drop the top to climb in with ease
Editor’s Rating: 8.0/10