The creme de la creme of motor vehicles, you don’t get better than a Rolls-Royce. It falls into the same category as the private jet in air travel or the luxury yacht that parks off at Clifton beach. So when TheMotorist was offered the chance to sample the best that money can buy in the ultra luxury segment, we looked forward to experiencing what it feels like to be part of the one percent.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn was the variant we had the keys to and that said vehicle has an approximate price tag of R10m. Yes, for that kind of money expectations are high. A buyer of such a car demands the best in comfort and quality on the road. That buyer expects unrivaled luxury and prestige, but even then, does all that which comes with owning such a car justify the cost?
For starters, there certainly isn’t anything like this on the road. It’s distinctively long bonnet and large square face, (all centered by the Spirit of Ecstasy) give the Dawn a look that’s hard to miss. When driving this vehicle or even being a passenger, you feel like you own every square cm of tarmac that you grace with your presence. You will have no problem then committing minor road offenses, such as cutting in front of people in traffic. When you do, no one even questions your actions. The rich really do have it good. It’s quite a pleasant experience really, because instead of the usual middle finger protruding from the driver’s side window, many attempt a wave similar to that of the Queen herself. Charming.
The exquisite exterior styling and design of the Dawn is rather elegant yet simple. It doesn’t shout with crazy lines, noises or colors like a supercar, because it doesn’t need to. It’s like a work of art – the epitome of class.
The team discussed the fact that whatever car parks next to the Dawn at a traffic light, be it a Ferrari or even a Maybach, the Rolls-Royce trumps it, every time. It would have to be a very special car to take attention off the Dawn. In terms of luxury, not much comes close.
The interior really is a sight to behold, soft cream leather covers most surfaces and the Rolls we drove had an optional wood finish called “Canadel”. It was designed to give the effect that you were aboard a luxury yacht. The result is a very modern and chic appearance, created by merging metal, leather and wood. The subtle trimmings in the vehicle are sublime, from the glass numbered buttons used for selecting radio stations, to lambswool carpets so thick that you can run your hands through them like a L’oreal shampoo advert.
Our favourite feature on the Dawn however is the doors. They open in the opposite direction to a normal vehicle, meaning that the hinges are behind the passengers, rather than in front of them. Closing the doors happens at the touch of the button, with motors bringing the doors in and closing them for you as you maintain a blasé look as if it’s the norm.
This design of the doors is actually ingenious. We all know that when exiting a vehicle one sometimes knocks the lower door panels or sills with their feet. With this design though, that problem is totally eliminated, thus leaving your perfectly chromed door-sills unscuffed. Entering and exiting the car is a much easier experience.
From our personal experience, we have never felt road comfort like we did in the Rolls-Royce Dawn. It felt like the suspension had been replaced with large bubbles as we floated merrily on our way. When the throttle was applied, one doesn’t think that powering the vehicle is a 6.6L V12 engine because the throttle response isn’t sharp, it’s not supposed to be. The power is fed in smoothly, allowing the car to comfortably gain speed. If you think the V12 is a loud, gurgling, fuel eating monster, you would be wrong. It’s a silent fuel eating monster. When the taps are opened from standstill, the Dawn will hurry along from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds, which is impressive for a 3 tonne car. The same goes for the braking system, it feels different to other luxury vehicles. Whatever the speed, it comes to a completely smooth stop, almost as though it is tempering the brakes for you. Performance is not the reason why you buy a Rolls though, you buy a Rolls for luxury, heritage and status.
The transmission has a feature which is definitely worth noting, it uses satellite maps to read the road ahead. For example, If a sharp hill is upcoming, the Dawn recognises this and automatically selects the lower gear just in time. It will then save this information for the next time the car travels on that route. The benefit of this is a seamless ride at all times, with reduced lag in engine and gearbox response.
The transmission has a feature which is definitely worth nothing, it uses satellite maps to read ahead. For example, If a sharp hill is upcoming, the Dawn recognises this and automatically selects the lower gear just in time. The Rolls-Royce Dawn will then save this information for the next time the car travels on that route. The benefit of this is a comfortable and pleasant ride at all times, with no lag in engine or gearbox response.
So, is the Rolls-Royce Dawn worth its price tag?
In short, yes. Don’t get us wrong, the Rolls-Royce Dawn is not perfect. For example, the rear seats of the vehicle. The seating position and seats themselves are not as comfortable as the front seats and are noticeably firmer. Understandably, this is not a Ghost so rear seating is not a priority. The infotainment system is based on the BMW system and it feels a little dated compared to other luxury vehicles. But these minor things won’t deter someone looking for a car like this because from the driver’s perspective, it’s difficult to fault.
A Rolls-Royce client is not just paying for an ultra-luxury car, they are also paying for the brand and the exclusivity that comes with it. Only the wealthiest own Rolls-Royces, and they are priced accordingly.
In recent times with the Mercedes-Maybach revival, those cars may one day step on the toes of the fabled British brand. For now, though, very few cars are at the level of a new Rolls-Royce. The brand stands on its own, a level above everything else.