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Dawn ideal for Down Under

Daybreak: While the Australian market is ideal for the Dawn, according to Rolls-Royce executives, its biggest market in terms of volume will be the United States.

Rolls-Royce says Australia is the perfect market for Dawn drop-top

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Rolls-Royce logo27 Nov 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

ROLLS-ROYCE’S new Dawn fabric-top convertible will be targeted at the lucrative American market, but company executives say the big cruiser will be a success in Australia too.

The Dawn is the British marque’s latest all-new model and enters the local market with a $749,000 driveaway price and virtually unlimited options thanks to Rolls-Royce’s bespoke program.

While Rolls sales figures are naturally low given the ultra exclusive price point, the company believes Australia is the ideal market for the drop-top Dawn.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris said the response to the Dawn had been exceptional, and described Australia as the perfect country for the luxurious convertible.

“We are absolutely blown away to be honest,” he told GoAuto at a Melbourne launch event. “We always knew it would be a car that is very, very appropriate for Australia. It is probably one of the best driving countries in Asia.

“This is a grand touring, open-top, social car so very clearly it is bang on brief, but the reception has been phenomenal. Initial orders have been very good. There are a few more I heard about today as well so it keeps rolling in.”

Mr Harris said the Dawn could capture a significant portion of overall Rolls sales, at least initially in the early part of its life-cycle.

“As far as the mix goes it would be somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of our total sales in the market per annum. The issue you have with convertible and coupe you tend to get quite a hiatus of demand before it levels off so the first few years it will be that, then it will level off to a more normal level which would be between 25 and 30 per cent, I am guessing.”

While Rolls’ larger sedans – the Ghost and Phantom – are hugely successful in sedan-loving markets such as China, Rolls-Royce Dawn product manager Jonathan Shears said he expects the topless Dawn to be most popular in the United States.

“Undoubtedly the United States, specifically for Dawn,” he told GoAuto. “We see the US as championing convertible cars as maybe the halo product. From a volume point of view, they are going to be number one.”

Powering the Dawn is a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 petrol engine producing a whopping 420kW/780Nm and matched with an eight-speed ZF satellite-aided automatic transmission. The zero to 100km/h sprint is competed in 4.9 seconds.

When asked whether Rolls-Royce could wring more power out of the big V12 for even greater performance, Mr Shears said it was technically possible, but unlikely.

“There are always opportunities to do something, the question is what is the price? And I don’t mean financial price, I mean if I add power and torque, what am I giving up in terms of ride comfort. For us, we could go down the performance direction, but we are unwilling to compromise on ride comfort,” he said.

“And so, while this V12, I am sure with the right engineer, could deliver something different, we are not really willing to encroach on what we believe is our signature hallmark ‘magic carpet’ ride.”

Mr Shears said the company was occasionally asked by customers for more power and performance in their Rolls, but the majority of owners have other vehicles in their garage that fit the performance car bill.

“With the customer having the stable of vehicles that, as a rule they have, if they wanted something to really blow the cobwebs away, they have something in their stable that they can take to a track in order to do that.

“It’s like you don’t wear trainers to a dinner or you don’t wear a tux to the pool. It is having the right tool for the right job for the right conditions.

This isn’t designed for hot laps as much as other cars aren’t designed for long-range comfortable driving.” Rolls-Royce is at pains to point out that the Dawn is more than just a convertible version of the Wraith coupe, with Mr Shears explaining that it carries the DNA of both the Wraith and the Ghost.

“The Rolls-Royce DNA is there and we wouldn’t be Rolls-Royce if we weren’t true to our design lines and those signature themes, which are visible across all our vehicles.

“We wanted to make sure that there was no illusion that this car was designed from the ground up. Sure there is shared componentry, but everything it represents is alongside and complementary to the existing family.

“Wraith very much has those powerful, dramatic lines, much more dynamic orientation. Whereas this one has just been dialed back – it’s the boulevardier, it’s the cruiser.”

Mr Shears said the car-maker moved away from its traditional naming policy when selecting a moniker for the new drop-top.

“Ghost and Wraith and Phantom are all those ethereal names and they sit in the dark and it didn’t feel right for this car to have an ethereal name like Wraith or Ghost Drophead, it just didn’t feel right,” he said.

“This car is a celebration of optimism and we wanted it to stand in the light and Dawn felt like the perfect name that we could also look back to our heritage and revive.”

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