Engine: 6.6-litre V12 twin-turbo
Transmission: eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Last Saturday, just after dark, a white van pulled alongside us at the lights. The driver glanced over, then his eyes swivelled and he gawped. What he saw in the gloom was a turquoise convertible Rolls-Royce, its hood dropped to reveal a pristine leather interior. The imposing car, its chrome glinting like star dust, is a sumptuous vision on any road, let alone a boring junction in south London. But what made the moment more surreal was that sitting in the car were David Bowie and Sid Vicious… Well, actually, it was me and a friend going to a 50th birthday party. Theme: Dead Rockers. I was the punk so why was I worried about getting black hair dye on the white headrest?
Before the Roller was delivered, friends asked if I was ready to spend the weekend being hated. I’d be wafting around in a smog of smugness, while pedestrians and road users scowled at me. In fact, the exact opposite happened. Everywhere I went, people smiled and waved. One person punched the air in delight. Dozens approached and congratulated me on the car, gazing at it in wonder. Other super cars elicit a much more hostile reaction. Sit in a Porsche, a Ferrari or a Lamborghini and you feel the disdain heavy upon you. Is it a British thing? Do we all nurture a lingering reverence for this most historic of marques? Or maybe it’s just that Rolls-Royce makes the best cars the world has ever seen, and for more than a century has been the ne plus ultra of engineering as art as performance. On top of that the new Dawn (which sounds like a morning prayer group) is undeniably striking.
Although the Dawn is a fresh start for Rolls, it doesn’t deviate much from the template laid down by BMW when it took over the helm of the great British marque in 1999.
Up front there is a gargantuan 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, and behind that there is all the deep-muscle cosseting that four adults can endure while being propped up in lounge chairs surrounded by chrome, leather, wood and little shiny buttons. Despite its size the Dawn is comparatively drivable. It’s usable, in a daily (if preposterous) way. I took it to Sainsbury’s, twice – one has to eat.
The fact that Kate Moss bought one over the summer also tells you that the Dawn brings street kudos that may have eluded Rolls before.
Would Sid Vicious buy one? Nah, but the designers at Rolls-Royce would have been only too happy to create a punk-themed bespoke ride for him, complete with shredded leather and safety pins…
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010