PALM BEACH, Fla. —
As we enter the final weeks of summer, lets savor its warmth and the
last moments of a carefree season. Knowing that autumn will soon be
upon us, let’s let loose with a melancholy last gasp of unhinged
gratification before the onslaught of winter. The feeling that
summer engenders is one that automakers attempt to capture in their
best cars, an essential essence that reveals itself as you get in,
hit the starter button and put it in gear.
Yet few cars possess
it, particularly luxury cars. But the 2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn isn’t
just any car. To compare it to any consumer product, let alone other
cars, is a bit unfair. For the Dawn is the result of an arcane
alchemy that mixes mechanical excellence, exquisite design and a
knowing eloquence that continues a treasured tradition that endures
unabated over Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ 115-year history.
There is nothing else
quite like it.
Once, there were many
cars like this; American cars with names like Packard, Marmon,
Pierce-Arrow and Duesenberg. To drive a 2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn is to
appreciate how those cars felt in their time even though these cars
remain snapchats in time, oblivious to the changing world. That
can’t be said of the 2019 Dawn despite its respect of tradition.
For under the time-honored trappings resides a state-of-the-art
Using the same
architecture that Rolls-Royce employs for the Ghost sedan and Wraith
coupe, the Dawn drophead is your private earthbound jetliner, albeit
one that’s immensely powerful. Its 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged
V-12 and eight-speed automatic transmission’s 563 horsepower
effortlessly whisks you to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. You can
still end up in a comfortable cell; top speed is 155 mph, although
this is not a car for boy racers; that’s not its demeanor. This is
a grand tourer of the first order.
The Dawn has an ease
and heft about it that lends the car an air of unflappability.
Everything about this car revolves around effortlessness, so don’t
look for manual shift paddles on the steering column; the car is
there to take care of the bother of shifting for you. The Dawn’s
perfectly-weighted steering initially feels light and numb, but
becomes more satisfying as speed builds. Not surprisingly, the body
leans in corners yet return enough grip and athleticism to take on
more demanding roads.
All sorts of
computer-controlled dampers and automatic ride height mechanisms
deliver a deftly balanced driving experience and incredibly
comfortable ride. Road shocks and noise are so effectively muffled,
passengers don’t notice or know of them. The Dawn’s deportment
is one that American luxury cars once provided, but no longer do now
that accountants oversee car development and engineers have became
blinded by adherence to harsh German driving characteristics.
It’s easy to
appreciate what’s been lost as you pull out of your walled estate,
the side-vision cameras revealing any oncoming traffic or loitering
paparazzi. If there are any, you can speed away as the Dawn’s
“Power Reserve” gauge keeps track of the car’s engine power.
Unlike a tachometer, which starts at 0 rpm and rises as your
engine’s rpms rise, this gauge starts at 100% on the right side of
the dial and rotates backwards as more power is used. Consider it a
tachometer in reverse. Enhancing this car’s special feel is its
hood ornament. Known as the Spirit of Ecstasy, it’s been a crucial
element since 1911 and retracts automatically when the car is shut
off. But if you’re flying by too quickly to show her off, your
wheel hubs use ball bearings to ensure that the Rolls-Royce logos on
the wheel centers are always upright and easily read.
As you’d expect,
the Dawn’s cabin sports supportive seats for four and are covered
in buttery soft leather. The cabin’s elegant book-matched wood
veneer enriches the experience while also providing countless hours
of Rorschach testing. And it’s incredibly silent. Even the climate
control is whisper quiet, without the annoying fan noise that
bedevils so many other cars. This remains mostly true even when the
power cloth top is lowered, something that takes a mere 22 seconds.
Of course, the Dawn
has the expected infotainment and connectivity technology that
thankfully can be hidden behind a wood-veneered door. For this car
is not about the real world, it’s a rolling den of earthly
delight. Driving is not a chore in this car, it’s an experience
— something that continues once you arrive at your destination,
stepping out through rear-hinged doors. Maybe onlookers are watching
you, but more likely they’re looking at your steed, 5,100 pounds
of perfectly proportioned metal, leather and action.
How pricey is it?
Well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average sale price of
a new home in the United States is $368,600; the 2019 Rolls-Royce
Dawn’s base price is $346,300. You can more than double the value
of a new home merely by parking it in the driveway. Then again, true
luxury is exclusive, not inclusive; class production, not
mass-production. It’s something most alleged luxury automakers no
longer seem to understand.
Yet for those who can
afford such finery, the 2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn remains a rare chance
to revel and romp in one of the world’s finest cars.
Consider it the
picture-perfect way to wrap up a memorable summer in style.
2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn
Base price: $346,300
563/605 pound-feet @ 1,500 rpm
Top speed/0-60 mph:
155 mph/4.8 seconds
EPA fuel economy
(city/highway): 12/18 mpg
Cargo capacity: 9.2
Curb weight: 5,203