Rolls-Royce Dawn review: Million air

Leow Ju-Len

rolls royce review singapore

1.5 million in Singapore, to be exact. And that doesn’t include the COE. But if you can afford it, should you take the plunge?

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — The sun does its thing pretty merrily down on the South African coast, beaming fervently on a landscape sculpted to perfection by celestial hands.

There cannot be a more perfect way to whisk through the unspeakable beauty of the place than the cloud I’m floating on, I think to myself, slightly foggy-headed from a long and pleasant reverie.

Of course, it isn’t fluffy wisps of water vapour that are bearing me along, but something tangible and yet seemingly just as ethereal. It’s the Rolls-Royce Dawn, and no cloud ever moved this quickly.

rolls royce dawn price singapore

On a basic level, you could think of the Dawn as an open-top version of Rolls-Royce’s Wraith, the aristocratic sports coupe. It’s largely based on that car, and shares the same basic layout: great, big twin-turbo V12 in front, air springs, rear wheel drive, two doors and four seats.

Yet, it has an altogether different personality from the Wraith, doing things in a sort of languid, easygoing manner.

When you shovel the coals the Dawn gathers speed with a supreme effortlessness, but it never seems to be in a real hurry. 570 horses have never felt more well-mannered, and the eight-speed transmission seldom makes its presence known. Most times you hear nothing from the engine bay, and even at full chat there’s only ever a faraway, creamy burble tickling the eardrums.

rolls royce dawn singapore price

Meanwhile, you’ve been whooshed to a three-figure speed inside of five seconds, the speedometer providing pretty much your only indication of your rapid progress through space.

It’s similarly relaxed around bends, the thin-rimmed steering wheel always light and easy to twirl, and yet allowing you to be precise and confident, conducting things more in the manner of a navy admiral than a driver.

rolls royce dawn singapore review

The active suspension slaps body roll on the wrist so you can lope from bend to bend as gung-ho as you like, and even when you’ve gone ’round a corner with enough gusto to make the tyres squeal, the Dawn seems unruffled and ready for more. Very good, sir, it seems to say.

As for bumps, either South Africa’s roads don’t have them, or the Rolls-Royce simply flattens them imperiously.

And all that is with the roof folded. Convertibles tend to wobble slightly, or shudder over tarmac that isn’t perfect, but not the Dawn. Rolls says it’s the stiffest open top car in the world, and it’s an easy claim to believe.

READ MORE: Six things you didn’t know about Rolls-Royce

As for the six-layer top, it’s a marvel of engineering by itself. Even though it’s one of the longest folding roofs out there, when it’s all stowed away it apparently takes up only as much space as the cloth top from a BMW 2 Series Convertible, somehow.

It disappears (or reappears) in 22 seconds and at speeds of up to 50km/h, but the truly remarkable thing is that when it’s in motion, there is only the faintest whirr from all the motors involved. Its maker calls the folding process a “silent ballet”, and while that may be stretching things a bit, it’s certainly true that in other convertibles the motors are downright deafening compared to this.

Rolls-Royce Dawn folding roof

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars calls this 22-second dance the “silent ballet”. Ballet isn’t half as captivating, if you ask us! #dawndrive

Posted by CarBuyer Singapore on Friday, 25 March 2016

There’s another brazen claim, too, that with the roof overhead the Dawn is the quietest convertible in the world, and is as silent on the move as the Wraith. I’m sure they had the instruments to prove it, but judging from the experience of my own ears, I’ll be damned if it isn’t so. A typical Rolls-Royce tends to waft you uncannily along like it’s powered by agents of the spirit world, and with the top up, the Dawn is no different. It’s only the third convertible by Rolls in half a century, but it feels like it was engineered by old masters of the art.

rolls royce dawn review singapore

There’s little need to get into how lavish the interior feels, because you’d expect as much for your million-and-a-half, which is what it costs before you add a blasted COE. Cabin trim can only be so rich, anyway, and what the Dawn really offers is an experience that feels downright noble. There’s something showy about turning up somewhere in the latest Italian exotica, but reactions to the Dawn are somehow much warmer. Much of it must be down to the rarity of seeing a Rolls-Royce, and a convertible at that — back at Goodwood they only built 3,785 cars last year, fewer than half as many as, say, Ferrari.

Then there’s the looks of the thing, which are exquisite. The Dawn drew appreciative gasps from bystanders, and was as much a selfie magnet as any Hollywood A-lister, one would imagine.

 rollsroyce dawn review singapore

There’s something inviting about the car when you look at it, the result of some subtle detailing that might escape notice without fine scrutiny. The rear deck of the car, for instance, wraps around occupants for an immersive experience, and the Spirit Of Ecstasy is mounted slightly higher on the Dawn than it is on the Wraith, just to make it more visible to all in the car.

It’s so perfectly proportioned that it simply looks far more delicate than its true size; the Dawn is as lengthy as a long-wheelbase 7 Series, but appears far more petite. All the metal, incidentally, means the cabin is surprisingly spacious. Even with the roof overhead, there’s enough headroom in the back to accommodate a bona fide supermodel.

rolls royce dawn singapore

Ultimately, the Dawn feels, well, like a Rolls-Royce. It’s more soothing to drive than Bentley’s Continental GTC, which must be the nearest thing to a rival, and it cuts a more patrician presence. When the Queen of England shows up at an event, people talk about her royal blood more than her money. The Dawn is a bit like that; even though you have to be wealthy enough for other rich people to consider you properly rich to buy one, it somehow transcends mere showiness.

It might seem like folly to drop $1.5 million on a car, but if you have the means to do it, it seems just as silly not to grant yourself a Dawn. They say there is no use being in heaven if your money is down on earth, but owning a Dawn means bringing a slice of paradise into your world.

rolls royce dawn singapore

NEED TO KNOW Rolls-Royce Dawn
Engine 6.6-litre, 48-valve, twin-turbo V12
Power 570hp at 5250rpm
Torque 780Nm at 1500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h (limited)
0-100km/h 4.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 14.2L/100km
CO2 330g/km
Price $1,468,888
Availability Now


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Leow Ju-Len

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