Rolls-Royce Dawn: The Digital Age Arrives For The World’s Most Traditional Automobile
The original Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn saw the light of day in 1952. Delivered to Colonel W.A. Phillips in Canada, the Silver Dawn was the first automobile by Rolls-Royce with a factory-built body (which means that it shared its chassis with other automobiles, in this case the Bentley Mark VI and Bentley R Type).
This ultra-famous name in the Rolls-Royce repertoire has been used only 28 times since then, but the ensuing cars all had coach-built bodies.
Fast forward to September 8, 2015, when Rolls-Royce did something unprecedented: it streamed the press conference of its latest creation on the worldwide web.
The brand-new Rolls-Royce Dawn is officially a product of the digital age.
The live press conference, including a question-and-answer session with Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, lasted about 25 minutes. As Rolls-Royce does not launch a new model every day, this online press conference made the extraordinary absolutely incredible.
First and foremost, this open-top, super-luxury motoring vehicle is once again something new, even for Rolls-Royce: it stands apart from the brand’s other vehicles in that 80 percent of its body panels are unique.
“We believe it’s the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever made,” said Müller-Ötvös during the press conference regarding the automobile that was completely manufactured in the company’s own high-tech facility located in the rolling hills of England’s West Sussex county.
As Müller-Ötvös’s talk led into the new 2+2 Dawn, the PR team showed the digital audience of global writers footage of the 1952 model with its “all hand-built dolce vita feeling.”
The new Dawn drophead (the British term for a convertible) is a seductive automobile, but fortunately for this generation in a more modern way than its predecessors. It boasts open-pore, mirror-polished Canadel wood paneling (the specific wood can actually be chosen by the buyer) that gives way to waterfall-effect rear seats hand-stitched in mandarin-colored leather.
The body positively glows in Midnight Sapphire paintwork and a hand-painted coach line.
Giles Taylor, design director at Rolls-Royce, went on to highlight the important features of the new Dawn’s design: purity of line, simplicity of form, a crisp modern edge that redefines and reinforces, a naturally flowing body, proportionate amounts of metal and glass elements, a wide heavily raked front windscreen, and a grille recessed by 45 mm that exudes power and authority – and provides the typical view of the Rolls-Royce flying lady. All in all, there is a sense of convergence in the design.
Though the new Rolls-Royce Dawn was designed to attract a younger and “more social” customer, this does not mean that the occupants of the car will be left feeling unsatisfied in terms of space: the two backseat passengers are treated to a sense of privacy and protection even with hood down as well as unusually large amounts of legroom.
The compromised legroom of rear seats in most luxury automobiles is something Rolls-Royce terms “anti-social.” This is also why the company considers the new Dawn a more “social” car.
“At Rolls-Royce, we pride ourselves as creators of fine motor cars that also serve as social spaces,” comments Taylor. “The idea of creating a car like the Dawn that can be used in comfort by only two adults on a day-to-day basis is anathema. In creating Dawn, we have accepted no compromise to the comfort and luxury of four adults who want to travel together in the pinnacle of style.”
Convertible with specific engineering
Philip Koehn, Rolls-Royce’s chief engineer, explained – and demonstrated – that the new Dawn is the quietest convertible in history. He related that this was achieved by the engineers perfectly blending every component; even the tires had been specially and freshly developed to deliver the “magic carpet ride” that Rolls-Royce clients expect.
This includes the convertible roof, which allows the open-top car to look just as beautiful with hood down or up (a specific design goal). The new roof opens and closes in 22 seconds, even at driving speeds of up to 50 km/h in what the company calls the “silent ballet.”
“It’s the quietest soft-top available today,” Koehn confirmed, while the press release states, “It is safe to say that the new Rolls-Royce Dawn is the quietest open top car ever made.”
However, for those that desire a specific type of sound, the company has outfitted the Dawn with Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke Audio system, which is specifically calibrated for the unique configuration of the automobile. Regardless of whether the roof is open or closed, the audio system promises perfect acoustic balance and performance via 16 individually tuned speakers.
Dawn is the most powerful full four-seat convertible motor car to date. At the same time it is lighter and more fuel-efficient at 19 miles per gallon (12.5 liters per 100 kilometers) than most 2+2 convertibles in the marketplace according to Rolls-Royce.
Dawn’s navigation electronics are also super-luxurious while being cutting-edge enough for the youngest generation of affluent drivers. The automobile is outfitted with the brand’s Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller, a one-touch system for media, mobile phone, and navigation with an additional call button located on the steering wheel that allows voice commands.
All in all, this is not the Rolls-Royce that (some of) our parents drove. It is modern while successfully walking the tightrope to remain definitively Rolls-Royce. It is undoubtedly geared toward ensnaring a younger customer – which was the reason for the online launch in the first place; “unveiling a new Rolls-Royce at motor show is no longer sufficient to move with times,” Müller-Ötvös reiterated.
The Dawn is poised to fit seamlessly into the contemporary Rolls-Royce mythology built upon heritage and tradition. Now injected with a pinch of audacious technical innovation coupled with spacious environment making for a true four-seater, the 112-year-old brand can be proud of this modern new creation.
For more information, please visit www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com/dawn.
Engine: 6.6 liter twin-turbo V12 with 8-speed ZF gearbox
Power: 563 horsepower or 420kW at 5,250 rpm and a torque rating of 780 Nm or 575 lb/ft at 1,500 rpm
Top speed: 250 kmh / 155 mph
Acceleration: 1-100 kmh (60 mph) in 4.9 seconds
Measurements: 5285 mm (17.34 ft) length x 1947 mm (6.39 ft) width x 1502 mm (4.93 ft) height; 2560 kg (5644 lb) weight
Navigation and media: SAT GPS via one-touch Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller with touch pad, allowing writing of characters using finger and scrolling/selecting as well as iPhone-like “pull and pinch”
Price: starting at $300,000