What can I say? How do I start my piece when I honestly can't find a word in the English dictionary that could fairly describe such an instrument? Instrument, you ask? Yes, I mean a musical instrument. It is truly a Cello; a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned - pretty comparable to the Dawn with four wheels tuned to give you the journey of your existence!
Flashback in time
In 1952 the world was finally emerging from a period of economic austerity following a protracted war. That year, the world looked forward in hope as the world's first passenger jet, the British de Havilland Comet, made its first commercial flight, the Big Bang Theory of the creation of the Universe was first propounded, and Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne of the United Kingdom.
That very same year, the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn Drophead, which became the muse for the designers of the new Rolls-Royce Dawn, was finished by Rolls-Royce coachbuilder Park Ward and delivered to its first customer, Colonel W.A. Phillips in Canada.
A new beginning for Rolls-Royce at the time, the original Silver Dawn was the first Rolls-Royce to be offered with a factory-built body. However, the Drophead Rolls-Royces that carried the name Silver Dawn continued to be coach-built for individual customers, ensuring their uniqueness and rarity, and embodied the optimism of the age as we began to enjoy life again and pursue La Dolce Vita.
This famous and rare Rolls-Royce name was only ever applied to 28 very special Drophead bodies between 1950 and 1954.
Rolls-Royce's new Dawn has taken inspiration from the Silver Dawn, whilst delivering a world first in super-luxury motoring - a cool, contemporary interpretation of what a super-luxury four-seater convertible motor car should be in 2015 - rare, refined and the most social super-luxury car there is. Much like the 1952 Silver Dawn Drophead, the new Rolls-Royce Dawn stands apart from its stable mates, featuring 80 percent unique body panels.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn maintains timeless Rolls-Royce design principles - 2:1 wheel height to body height, a long bonnet, short front overhang, a long rear overhang, an elegant tapering rear graphic and a high shoulder line.
All this tradition is delivered in a beautiful and thoroughly contemporary design.
Like an athlete, the Rolls-Royce Dawn appears poised, taught and ready to go. The latent acceleration and tension in the surfaces are increased through completely new panels which evince curvature and creates a tighter surface and a more powerful silhouette which hints at what lies beneath.
Dawn's powerful and striking front end gives it a sensuous, yet edgy, almost masculine look while the bold sweeping shoulder line becomes more sensuous as it flows over the swell of the rear wheels, accommodating a 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 car's dynamism. With its high shoulder line, massive C-pillar and horizontally narrow side window aperture, when viewed from side-on and roof up, the car looks akin to a low-slung hot rod.
At the front, the grille is recessed by approximately 45 millimeters while the lower front bumper has been extended 53 millimeters, compared to the Wraith. This has been done to focus the eye on the jet air intake face and to make the car feel focused, even when standing still. The grille design helps accelerate the tension of the car towards the rear shoulders, again emphasizing the unique elegance of Dawn.
The grille and bumper focus attention on the horizontal lines of the car rather than the traditional vertical lines of the other members of the Rolls-Royce family. The bumper now incorporates the number plate surround and a new focused lower air dam. The mesh in the lower valance is recessed and black in color, helping create a sense of depth which supplements the depth in the grille. Also, chrome blades act to plant the car while also complementing the horizontal lines and accelerating the flow of the eye around the car thus increasing the impression of power and width.
When viewing the Rolls-Royce Dawn in side profile, one's eye is instantly drawn to the elegant profile of the car. The soft-top shape is completely harmonious and homogenous without the ugly concave areas or sharp struts seen in other manufacturers' soft tops. In addition, new 21-inch polished and 21-inch and 20-inch painted wheels ensure Dawn remains a perfectly executed, contemporary expression of Rolls-Royce luxury.
The rear end of the car, having swelled over the feminine 'hips' of Dawn, tapers in towards the rear, echoing the elegant design of early 'boat tail' Rolls-Royce Drophead coupes and indeed the beautiful motor launches of the early 20th Century that inspired them.
The silent lowering of the soft top transforms the Rolls-Royce Dawn, delivering a true Dawn moment. In hero specification of Midnight Sapphire exterior and Mandarin leather interior, night becomes day as rays of sunshine burst forth, bringing the inside out, joining this social space with the wider world of possibilities.
Roof down, the sexiness of the Rolls-Royce Dawn is even more apparent. From the side the steep rake of the windscreen, the swage line that flows over the rear haunches, plus the high beltline that rises along the profile give the impression of effortless swiftness. The very same rising beltline wraps around the rear passenger cabin, akin to the collar of a jacket pulled up to protect the neck.
The stainless steel waistline finisher that wraps around the cabin encompasses the deck that covers the soft top when stowed, and integrates the high-level brake light. This beautiful metal feature works in harmony with the stainless steel door handles, polished wheels, visible exhausts and front and rear bumper jewellery, to create a priceless look and feel.
The deck itself is an amazing work of modern craftsmanship. Clothed in open-pore Canadel panelling that traces the horseshoe shape of the rear cabin, it demonstrates the great advances that the craftspeople in the Woodshop at the home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood have made in wood crafting technology and techniques.
The wood on the deck, chosen by the customer to suit their individual taste, flows down the 'Waterfall' between the rear seats, and around the cabin, clothing the interior door panels and enticing the owner to enter Dawn.
Once again Rolls-Royce's unique coach doors come into their own in a Drophead format. The coach doors are impressive and graceful. The doors complement the long front wings and relaxed waft line, creating a long body profile and a cosseted cabin.
Evocative of the classic sports car profile, they add considerably to the easy entry and egress of rear passengers from Dawn's luxurious embrace. The rear passengers do not merely 'get out' of a Rolls-Royce Dawn, but rather stand and disembark as if from a Riva motor launch onto a glamorous private jetty in Monaco or on Lake Como.
Of course as one would expect of a Rolls-Royce, the coach doors also serve a more fundamental purpose than simply a means of access. Perhaps just as importantly, they also add significantly to the overall strength and stiffness of the body as they allow the construction of an uninterrupted A-pillar.
The first impression upon entering Dawn is of the four separate bucket seats set in the midst of a sumptuous and sartorial slingshot of wood and leather. The slingshot concept runs from the driver's A-post towards the rear of the car, around the rear seats before returning to the passenger A-Pillar.
The slingshot form is reminiscent of a Barchetta; pulled back, poised and ready to launch the occupants of the car to the horizon, even whilst stationary. This design complements the accelerated tension seen in the exterior of the car. The interior complements the exterior, a place of opulence, security and presence.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn offers four very individual, cosseting seats. The vehicle is a full four-seater and so there is no compromise in comfort wherever you sit. The seats have been designed to help emphasize the energetic, yet elegant intent and sense of purpose of the car, complemented by an intersecting full-length center console. The upper seat back houses the seat belt harness, which together with the pillarless bodywork enhances and emphasizes the slingshot of wood or leather with no breaks in the flow-lines. The wood on the surface of the trays are also book-matched down the center console in a chevron pattern, pointing forward to provide an accelerated feel.
The instrument dials have also undergone subtle enhancements with individually applied polished metal chaplets around the dials evoking the precision design of handmade, luxury wrist watches, whilst the matte chrome centers 'float' in the middle of each instrument. In addition, a new clock design featuring the new motor car's name has been introduced.
Soft rooftop engineering
Without question, the engineering highlight of the new Rolls-Royce Dawn is the new roof. To be a true Rolls-Royce, Dawn had to deliver the hushed driving experience associated with all Rolls-Royces. At the same time, the only choice for a Rolls-Royce was a fabric roof for reasons of aesthetics, romance and brand appropriateness. There is nothing more romantic than driving a convertible in the rain at night and hearing the drops pattering on the roof. In conversation with its customers, Rolls-Royce realized that they felt the same way.
Working with a fabric roof configuration, the Rolls-Royce engineering team set themselves a challenging goal which they were unwilling to compromise on - to make the quietest convertible car in the world today. This quest for silence applied to all aspects of the engineering of the new roof and by extension, the new motor car.
Firstly, the passengers' onboard aural experience roof up and roof down while in motion had to be pure Rolls-Royce. The design of the roof had to be graceful, beautiful and sensuous whilst remaining one of the largest canopies to grace a convertible car.
Of particular note is how the canopy wraps around the rear seats and down over the window tops of Dawn, thereby optically lowering the roofline of the car to contribute to its low-slung appearance.
Another point to note is the small size of the rear glass - a carefully judged proportion which heightens the sense of a private sanctuary when motoring with the roof up.
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.
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.
And a Silent Ballet is what they achieved.
Operating in complete silence in just 22 seconds, and at cruising speeds of up to 50 km/h this Silent Ballet engages the majority of one's senses as silence and seclusion are exchanged for the sounds, light and aromas of the outside world. As if opening an airlock, Dawn lifts the lid on the outside world and its cabin becomes a wider part of the owner's social space.
The location was perfectly chosen for the first drive of the Rolls Royce Dawn: Cape Town. It's certainly a lavish city. During our morning drive, I was insisting on getting the turquoise color, but my red car with ivory upholstery might have come straight from the Grand Canyon and suited Cape Town's scenery. On these amazing spinning roads of the ocean's coast, that's where I drove the Dawn. I reached probably 220 km/h and honestly speaking I didn't feel any single body roll. It feels like one part. It straightaway reminded me of the Airbus A380. It lands and takes off, but you scarcely sense that if you are not looking out the window. The one thing that also surprised (which is marketed by the automaker) is the 2+2 in a convertible. I did the test myself of the Dawn, and believe it or not it is a four-seater convertible vehicle. 2+2 equals 4 in the Rolls-Royce holy book!
How am I supposed to conclude? I could use the whole magazine to tell you about the Dawn. Starting price is 1,500,000 AED in UAE. But the 2016 MY units are already sold. Book your car now so can get it around the first quarter of 2017. If you have millions, don't think twice, it's your car. Why is that? Because I honestly admit that the Dawn is the ultimate package of driving experience, soft top down (although I felt it is a coupe), and the extravagance provided by the British automaker makes a unique vehicle where probably the difference between the Dawn and its rivals is pretty far. A new day, a new dawn; warm salute to you Dawn!
Pros: Gorgeous looking, lavish interior, superb handling, sits four adults effortlessly, quiet ride, convertible soft top mechanism
Cons: I can't get one in the near future!
Rivals: Bentley Continental GT Convertible W12
One word: wealthy
6.6 L twin-turbocharged V12, 563 hp @ 5,250 rpm, 780 Nm @ 1,500 rpm
8-speed automatic, RWD
0-100 km/h: 4.9 sec, top speed: 250 km/h, fuel consumption: 14.2 L/ 100 km
Weight: 2,560 kg