Sep 2015 - Compromise is not a word recognised in the Rolls-Royce lexicon. Indeed the company continues to live by the clarion cry of co-founder Sir Henry Royce to “Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it. Accept nothing nearly right or good enough.”
The first part of this maxim – “Strive for perfection in everything you do” – guides the company’s every action particularly during the creation of a new motor car. The second – “Take the best that exists and make it better” – has been clearly evidenced in the success of both Phantom Series II and Ghost Series II as they were carefully updated in 2012 and 2014 respectively. And when Rolls-Royce judged that it was time for an authentic gentleman’s Gran Turismo to return to the world stage, it was guided by the third part of Sir Henry’s maxim: “When it does not exist, design it.” And thus, Wraith was born.
Now, the final part of this maxim has guided the Rolls-Royce design and engineering teams as they have worked to initiate a new age for open-top, super-luxury motoring. In a sector exclusively populated by the biggest of automotive compromises – the 2+2 seat configuration – Rolls-Royce has chosen to “accept nothing nearly right or good enough.”
And so, the new Rolls-Royce Dawn, the world’s only true modern four-seater super-luxury drophead, is born.
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, 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 that 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 whilst 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 45mm whilst the lower front bumper has been extended 53mm compared to 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 emphasising 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 colour, 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” polished and 21’’ and 20” 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 coupés 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 waist line 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 horse-shoe 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 emphasise the energetic, yet elegant intent and sense of purpose of the car, complemented by an intersecting full length centre console. The upper seat back houses the seat belt harness, which together with the pillarless bodywork enhances and emphasises the slingshot of wood or leather with no breaks in the flow-lines. The wood on the surfaces of the trays are also book-matched down the centre console in a chevron pattern pointing forward providing 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 hand-made, luxury wrist watches, whilst the matt chrome centres ‘float’ in the middle of each instrument. In addition, a new clock design featuring the new motor car’s name has been introduced.
The heart of the Rolls-Royce Dawn driving experience
The beating heart and soul of any Rolls-Royce motor car is the beloved twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 powertrain. With a power output of 563bhp or 420kW @ 5,250rpm and a torque rating of 780Nm or 575 lb ft @ 1,500rpm, Dawn’s driving experience is exceptional.
This experience is enhanced by dynamic accelerator pedal mapping which delivers up to 30% increased response at medium throttle.
Dawn maintains Rolls-Royce’s typical steering characteristics providing superb driver feedback thereby ensuring that the car is effortless but precise to drive, while also providing a great sense of safety, even at higher speeds, no matter if the top is up or down.
The result is that the new Dawn is Rolls-Royce’s most powerful full four-seat drophead motor car to date, and thanks to its advanced engineering is lighter and more fuel efficient than the majority of compromised 2+2 convertibles in the market.
Grip is provided by runflat tyres, metrically sized at 540mm (20 inches) in diameter. These tyres enable the Dawn to run on a deflated tyre for at least 100 miles/160km at speeds up to 50mph/80km/h before needing a replacement. A remarkable level of control still exists, even with a tyre fully deflated. Optional 21” wheels are also available, mounted on 10-spoke rims. The inclusion of runflat tyre technology removes the need for a spare wheel and jack, freeing up space in the luggage compartment.