The Dawning Of A Fine Rolls-Royce Weekend
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Sunday 5th August saw a remarkable gathering of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars head to Harewood House near Leeds. The occasion – the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club 39th Northern Rally.
Home to the Queen’s cousin, The Earl of Harewood, the house sits in the heart of Yorkshire and is one of the Treasure Houses of England. Built in the 18th century, Harewood House has art collections to rival the finest in the land. The renowned Bird Garden and ‘Capability’ Brown landscaping are further delights.
Once again I had come to see the cars both old and new and I wasn’t disappointed.
Adding a little magic to the occasion, Rolls-Royce kindly loaned me a Black Badge Edition of its sumptuous Dawn convertible.
Silver Shadows jostled for position with Phantoms, Silver Spirits and Corniches and it was hard to decide which cars merited closer inspection.
The friendly owners were happy to chat about their valuable prize motor cars and it was clear many were spending the family inheritance maintaining their cars to the very highest of standards. They didn’t seem too concerned.
Alongside ‘my’ delectable Dawn sat a new Phantom, fresh from the factory accompanied by a couple of chatty minders. The delightful pairing showed what Rolls-Royce can now do and of course attracted plenty of attention throughout the day.
I am not sure many of the traditional Rolls-Royce owners wanted to swap their pride and joy for a new model, but the comments were mostly favourable. List prices however did surprise most, but then a Rolls-Royce motor car has always been seen as a cut above the rest and for that you must pay.
So what of the Dawn Black Badge? The elegant black exterior was paired with a complementary black interior, all handcrafted with the very finest of materials. Open the door and the smell of expensive leather fills the air.
I know from past experience, the factory can produce an interior to any specification and if your pockets are deep enough, the extensive options list is there to explore. In fact the test car had over £55,000 worth of delights adding to the already considerable £310,000 list price.
The Dawn is a big and heavy car, but once ensconced behind the wheel, enjoying the imperious driving position, it is quite remarkable how quickly the Rolls heads down the road. Should you feel the need to sprint away from the traffic lights, 60mph will be reached in a mere 4.8 seconds. Not many cars will keep up, in a straight line at least.
Of more interest is the huge 840Nm of torque produced by the 6,592cc V12 engine. A mere twitch of the right foot is all that is required for a swift overtake.
As one would expect a silky smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox is fitted and changes are all but imperceptible.
Ride comfort is mostly exemplary, with just an occasional shudder when encountering an especially deep pothole.
It’s doubtful that handling prowess is high on the list of Dawn owners’ priorities, for no doubt a Ferrari or Aston Martin will be on hand for such times. However, the Dawn can be hustled along a country lane at quite a lick should you be late for a very important date.
Perhaps of little interest to wealthy Rolls-Royce buyers are economy and emissions. The latter is a rather heady 337g/km CO2 which won’t find favour with environmentalists. Combined economy is quoted at 19.2mpg and during my brief tenure, I recorded a not unreasonable 18.1mpg. There seemed to be almost no variation no matter how I drove the car.
Unlike the larger Rolls-Royce cars now on sale, the Dawn is very much a car to drive rather than be driven in. The front seats are superbly comfortable and are heated and cooled for comfort. A massage function had been added to the test car but so relaxing was the car to drive, I felt no need of its services.
An optional Aero Cowling was also present. Thus equipped, the Dawn takes on a rakish two-seater stance but from a practical point of view the cowling reduces wind buffeting at speed. It is effective too, allowing motorway speeds to be enjoyed without too much disturbance to one’s expensive hairdo.
The cowling can be removed and stored in the garage, returning the car to its four-seater state.
At the end of a long hot summer’s day, the Dawn Black Badge wafted me home in silence and comfort. Heads turned along the way as I wafted past, roof down, a little light music oozing from the bespoke audio system.
The journey home was over all too quickly, as was my brief tenure of the car and whilst I don’t covet the Dawn as I do some cars that I am lucky enough to test, I have great admiration for the engineering excellence and peerless luxury. I can see why, with many millions in the bank, a Rolls-Royce would be one of those objects that you would acquire.
Until such time, I will be thankful for the opportunity to see how the other half lives. A memorable experience and one which I hope to replicate next year.
Rolls-Royce Dawn Black Badge
Recommended retail price £310,000 (excluding options)
610PS V12 engine
0 to 60mph in 4.8 seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Combined economy 19.2mpg
Emissions 337g/km CO2
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The Dawning Of A Fine Rolls-Royce Weekend, 7th August 2018, 19:56 PM