THE rear deck of a 37-metre super yacht might seem a strange place to launch a new car — there’s precious little room to test its cornering ability for a start — but when it’s the Rolls-Royce Dawn you’re talking about, it makes sense.
A super yacht like Sydney’s Tango (yours for a cool $5250 an hour) is where Rolls-Royce owners feel at home. Many of them probably own one.
Parking the new Dawn — which several Australians have already ordered, without test driving, for a cool $749,000 on the road — in front of, or indeed on top of, the backdrop of Sydney Harbour also allowed us to fully appreciate its beautiful lines, apparently.
Rolls-Royce has had itself all in a lather over this new droptop for months, describing it as “the sexiest” car the brand has ever made.
Global product manager for Dawn, Jonathan Shears, seemed almost overcome by the “erotic tingle on the skin, awakening the senses and passions as the day begins” that his car ostensibly evokes.
During a detailed walk around of the car — which is what you get when you’re not allowed to drive one — he said that while we were probably expecting a convertible version of the Wraith, we were wrong.
“This is not a drophead Wraith. She stands uniquely apart from all our other cars, but she deserves her place,” he enthused, describing the admittedly beautiful design as “dynamic, seductive, alluring and powerful”.
The side-on view, with its coach line rising and falling from front to rear, “gives it a low-slung stance, and almost a hot-rod type of feel”.
So, an erotic, sexy, hot rod Rolls-Royce? Clearly, this is not your typical Roller, and sure enough the company says it is aiming for a different kind of customer, which is paying off with a high level of interest from “affluent yet younger customers who are new to the brand”.
The Dawn’s real party piece, of course, is its six-layer fabric roof, which is truly wraithlike in the way that it performs its piece of engineering ballet in almost complete silence, taking just 21 seconds. Rolls engineers claim it is the quietest folding roof in the world, and that getting it to work at speeds of up to 50km/h was one of the greatest challenges they’ve mastered.
Once the roof is down, the interior sparkles as brightly as the Harbour, with a “waterfall panel” of timber running from the yacht-like rear deck, between the passengers to the dash.
As usual, the carpets are so lush and soft it will be tempting to drive it bare foot, or get down on the floor and nap.
Shears was keen to emphasise that the Dawn is not about numbers but more about the magic carpet ride unique to Rolls, its satellite-aided transmission preselecting gears before hills or corners arrive.
Its figures are impressive but so are the outputs.
The Dawn will be powered by a 6.6-litre V12 turbo with a whopping 420kW/780Nm, which will hurl its impressive bulk to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds.
Rolls likes to claim that the Dawn is a proper four-seater, rather than a two-plus-two as with most luxury convertibles.
This might be a rare exaggeration, because rear legroom is more adequate than commodious.
In every other way, though, and particularly the price — you can get a Ghost for $595,000 or a Wraith for $645,000 — the new Dawn is as impressive as we’d been led to believe. Almost as impressive as a super yacht, even.