Road Test: Rolls-Royce Dawn

The Rolls-Royce Dawn is a super luxury convertible

“After the darkness comes Dawn,” says Rolls-Royce’s website. “Its inviting interior opened to the elements – to friends, to the unexpected, to endless possibilities. Rolls-Royce Dawn lives in the moment. The moment is now.”

Those sensitive to flimflam and puffery might well be dissuaded to investigate any further by these almost satirical cod poetics. But that would be a mistake.

Rolls-Royce Dawn is Poetry in Motion

After all, Rolls-Royce is known more for its poetry in motion (damn, now they’ve got me at it). Rather, they are coach-builders, car designers, engineers; and their latest model, the Dawn – named presumably, after the time of day, rather than the wheel fitter’s hairdresser neighbour – is about as exemplary as a car gets.

The Rolls-Royce Dawn is a super luxury convertible.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn is not for the restrained.

Without wishing to sound like an advertisement – trust me, MAN LONDON receives no commercial benefit from the esteemed marque – Rolls-Royce is in a class of its own, which, of course, is what anyone who stumps up the quarter of a million or so pounds to buy one would jolly well have every right to expect.

They might even expect some Dawn Inspired by Fashion – not our hairdresser’s passing love of dreads, but a series of bespoke options apparently inspired by the catwalks (they’re white with strikingly coloured contrast soft tops).

A Convertible in 22 Seconds

What they do get is, in short, a Rolls Royce with the roof down – in 22 seconds, to be precise, revealing a lovely wood veneer deck – but so quiet when it is, despite rollicking along behind that 6.6 litre V12 twin turbo, that you need to get your shoes wet before you’re reminded that it might be a good idea to put it back up.

As such, this 1950s Silver Dawn-inspired monster – just two rear-hinged doors but with tons of room in the back – might be considered a sportier Rolls-Royce.

Well, kind of. Of course, given its considerable weight and heft, a sports car proper would leave the Rolls-Royce Dawn standing, even with that awesome power-plant in play.

But then the bod in the sports car won’t feel quite as cosseted as the driver of the Dawn. Certainly the Dawn feels nippier than its stablemates. It’s more fun too, a bit less sober.

One might even say it’s understated, at least for a Rolls-Royce. But, like those, it’s still a lesson in build quality: it says a lot – given such whizzbangery as its head-up display, infra-red night vision and radar sensors – to come away from a car like this most impressed by the air vent opener, but the slight resistance in the metal pulley says all you need to know about how these cars are put together.

OK, so it’s shocking that the driver has to manually adjust the rear-view mirror and, after pressing all buttons, talking to it, then shouting at it, I conceded that I would just have to use my hand.

Rolls-Royce Dawn is Like a Having Butler in the Car

But, that aside, the Rolls-Royce Dawn is a car that wants to do everything for you, but with minimal fuss, like a butler perhaps. Like the very idea of a butler in the 21st century though, there is something anachronistic, something otherworldly about this Rolls Royce.

Even if its roof goes up and down, it’s hard to say what, or who, this car is for. And yet, all the same, you can’t help be happy that someone has bothered to build it and in the way they have.

BEST BIT: It’s a Rolls-Royce – nobody makes better cars.

WORST BIT: It’s still a Rolls-Royce, so inevitably one feels just a little bit self-conscious in it.

HEAD TURNING QUOTIENT: Remarkably subdued for a Rolls-Royce. And that’s a good thing.

DRIVING EXPERIENCE: Exhilarating? Not really. Calm, collected, assured, feel good? Absolutely. ML