(Mirror) Knowing that autumn is 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 automobile.
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 percent 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 U.S. 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.
Base price: $346,300
Engine: 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-12
Horsepower/Torque: 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
Wheelbase/Length/Width: 122.5/208.1/76.7 inches
Cargo capacity: 9.2 cubic feet
Curb weight: 5,203 pounds
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