Exclusive: We take Rolls-Royce Dawn on a journey to Salon Rétromobile for the most elegant of road trips
In our two-part photoshoot, we explore the power and prestige of Rolls-Royce Motors contemporary legacy
A Rolls-Royce motor car evokes a sense of serenity and luxury unlike any other car manufacturer. To drive or to be driven in a Rolls-Royce is an experience to savour – even on your umpteenth drive the unique emotion a car instils in you ceases to fade. The brand has spent 110 years perfecting what can only be described at pure automotive opera, the epitome of expertly crafted escapism and exquisite sophistication for the senses.
Attending Salon Rétromobile in February, I needed a car that would easily skim the 600-odd miles from London to Paris and back, provide ample boot space for our many Parisian-inspired fashion ensembles, keep us comfortable, safe and entertained for many hours behind the wheel and, crucially, also one that truly looked the part among a show of some of the world’s very finest automobiles, in some of the most chic arrondissements.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn ticked all of the boxes, so it came as a great delight when an iridescent Ice Blue beauty arrived outside Tempus’s Mayfair office, holding its own against the daily supercar and luxury four-wheeled barge beauty contest that takes place among the surrounding streets. I had an immediate feeling of pride as I stood back and admired her fully, keys in hand.
The convertible Dawn doesn’t just flirt with the eye; under the hand-beaten bonnet lies a 6.6ltr V12 twin-turbo engine, which impressively propels this stunning but weighty creature (2,500kg) from 0-60mph in merely 4.8 seconds, though having spent time laughing at the mammoth torque, I’d wager this is a very conservative figure.
The car can be set-up for a two- or four-passenger driving experience with the optional aero cowling that can be added as part of your specification with the bespoke team or purchased separately. The aero cowling is made of a light, stylish combo of carbon fibre, aluminium and leather, and is easy to install or remove. As someone with long locks, it provided complete comfort during our joyous top-down driving – rather than the usual hair-whipping-in-face driving experience – thanks to the cleverly channelled airflow that also protected my backseat passengers from the wind. >>
PART ONE: We put the Rolls-Royce Cullinan through its paces to see how this luxury SUV fares during shooting season
If you prefer the peace and tranquillity of an enclosed cabin, it takes 22 seconds for the soft top to close, creating an almost galactic vacuum environment. The prospect of road or engine noise is quickly forgotten allowing your passengers to appreciate every note on Classic FM or your Old-School Hip-Hop playlist (depending on one’s mood) amplified on the finest Rolls-Royce Bespoke Audio sound system. Either mood suits this youthful car perfectly; the Dawn has real street presence, equally suiting classical and cool. It’s effortless, elegant and timeless design feels without a class restriction in style and environment, too.
The convertible experience is especially invigorating driving through the lights and life of Paris. The various modes of the Dawn – including Driver Assistance and Active Cruise Control – provide utmost creature comforts, with heated seats ready to disguise the external chill, glare-free TV to entertain as you ride through the Channel Tunnel, and cup holders to keep your café safe while the self-adjusting suspension ensures you don’t spill a drop. It’s smooth enough to write a postcard back home – or even apply your mascara.
The automatic headlight adjustment, with grille-mounted infrared night vision camera detects potential hazards up to 300m ahead, with a Head Up sat-nav display on the windscreen showing current speed, directions, speed limits and land departure in a way that was always well-informed and ahead of time, allowing a totally stress-free journey in a foreign country on the wrong side of the road.
The Dawn provided an unbeatable journey from Mayfair’s redbrick roads to Paris’ boutique-lined Avenue Montaigne and upon arrival I was surprised to see how many Parisians admired the car –after all, it is quintessentially English.
Unlike many a Rolls-Royce, this car is truly designed for the driver’s experience. As soon as foot meets accelerator she simply opens up and sings – and after almost 800 miles I felt more like I had returned from a spa weekend than a long, and usually tiring, road trip.
They say the best things in life are free, however, with the Dawn I would have to contest. With a £297,800 rrp (as tested) pricetag it is truly a delight for anyone who loves to drive, and craves that sense of freedom, luxury and exhilaration.