Y’s Digital Editor, Alvin Thomas, treats himself and turns heads in the crème de la crème of convertibles.
The legendary British movie star Michael Caine once remarked that a Rolls-Royce in Beverly Hills was a bit like a Ford anywhere else.
Rolls-Royce’s latest creation – the Dawn – may not seem like a perfect fit on the roads of Muscat.
Our capital city is more used to the marque’s larger and more sedate siblings such as the Ghost, Phantom or even the newly-launched Cullinan.
A six-figure price-tagged soft-top convertible ultra-luxe Rolls-Royce may not seem like an ideal investment in a country as hot as ours but hey, owning one is the marque of success.
It’s that mindset that Rolls-Royce is aiming for i.e the uber-rich with an affinity with affluence and enough hair to be spotted and papped by social media “car experts”.
The Dawn is a wonderful platform to begin with. The Black Badge – RR’s all-new variant –is the brand’s latest take on style, panache and the mystifying presence that is so Rolls-Royce.
Does it work?
Yes. But, there’s more to it than that. On paper, the Dawn Black Badge isn’t any bigger, aesthetically different or even that much of a retake on the car it’s based on.
But, looks can lie because by targeting a younger audience, Rolls-Royce dishes out more power, exclusive badging; and more importantly, a stealthier take on bling that makes the Dawn Black Badge look like the brand’s alter ego.
Rolls-Royce markets their car as the “blackest black” car ever made, and we believe it.
There are just about enough black finishes in several layers of black and lacquer to keep the otherwise chrome trim and infamous ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ badge blacked-out – even on days when the sun shines down hard (blowing out highlights).
Otherwise, the Dawn Black Badge is unmistakeably Rolls-Royce. The thin Rolls-Royce signature LED lights remain and the blacked-out grille is as large as ever.
Our white test model had an alluring presence, with just enough black panels such as those on the badging on the sides. These double up as indicators through the ‘RR’ logo, and there are smoked multi-spoke alloys. The trim on the rear – offering the black treatment – stands out.
The alloys are finished in a carbon composite material. It’s lighter than that found on the regular wheels but the attention-grabbing Rolls-Royce badge and the blacked-out accents won’t be a cheap fix. Do bear that in mind when you hand over your Dawn BB to the parking valet.
The deep blue-coloured soft top on our car was just awe-inspiring. It summoned up flashes from the smartphone lenses of passers-by as we toured the swankier areas of Muscat, such as Shatti al Qurum and the Corniche, which are synonymous with
The interior is where things get real. There’s enough leather here to clad a dozen cows, and carbon-fibre to build a Pagani Huayra hypercar. The Dawn Black badge cuts no corners in its relentless pursuit of younger clients.
Its cabin is unambiguously Rolls-Royce, with everything being picked up straight from the Wraith and Ghost: from the grand-looking steering wheel to the infotainment system, instrument cluster and the control knobs; to the a/c vents, buttons and even the door handles.
Where things get different is in the attention to detail. There are ‘Black Badge’ plaques placed around the cabin to distinguish this from the more plebian variants. Etched on the clock is a logo of the infinity, which is carried over from the plaques.
As expected, the seats are comfy and immaculately crafted in leather – blue in our tester and broken up with red accents – and there’s seating for four if someone removes the wind-breaker cover on the rear.
The infotainment system comes with a bit of theatre: it flips open and closed to a carbon-fibre door with an ‘RR’ badge on it. The user interface is unmistakably BMW-like with reskinned pages – which works out for the best. The result is a quick-witted system that has enough processing power to keep the pages loading promptly unlike the brand’s systems of old.
The open-top Rolls-Royce must be experienced with your friends and family. The British marque still does luxury cruising like no-one else in the business. Bentley should take notes.
It’s an Intense car, this. When your hear rumblings about how the car comes with more power, torque and other thingummyjigs that RR buyers care about, it’s clear that Rolls-Royce is cranking things up a notch.
In all fairness, however, they have reworked the 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 to now pump out a gargantuan 593 horses and 840Nms of twist, making this the most powerful Rolls-Royce on the market.
Whether it’s sporty enough for you is debateable but the silky-smooth engine benefits from enough torque to send the wheels back to its elemental form (i.e. ashes and smoke) every time you slam the pedal to the metal.
Naught to 100kph is reached in 4.9 seconds, and cornering has been improved ever so slightly to maintain composure around corners. If you’re daring (and rich) enough, you can even chuck the cars around corners on a racetrack in a fit of oversteer.
This time around, the brakes are more responsive as well, giving the drop-top enough stopping power before instating ABS. Brake feel is, arguably, a bit mushy but there’s adequate force to keep you and all the 2.5 tonnes
of metal from an expensive crash.
Steering feel is dignified and inputs are quicker than ever before. This helps give the car quick feet but it still isn’t a full-blooded attempt to take down a GT car from, say, Ferrari or Maserati.
But, that’s not the purpose of the Dawn Black Badge. It’s best left to thrive in the wild – and by wild, we mean the highways and the pebbled roads in gated colonies – where it’ll soak up bumps without breaking a sweat, and will attract just enough attention to have you crank up your home security as you pull up to your garage.
Also, we can’t ever imagine one ever being stopped by the cops in this. Imagine being screamed at: “Hey, you! Pull your Rolls-Royce over to the side.”
We can’t blame the bystanders, though. The Dawn Black badge is an incredibly desirable car that’s finished in just the right tones to keep the youth interested.
Lest we say, it’s an Instagram-worthy car. Bring on the likes – but from us here at Y, here’s a big double tap.
• Engine: 6.6-litre ‘twin-turbocharged’ V12
• Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
• Power: 593hp
• Torque: 840Nms
• Top Speed: 250kph (limited)
• Rear-wheel drive
• Sports exhaust system
• Hand-built in Goodwood
• 10.3-inch infotainment screen
• Satellite-guided transmission
• Premium leather upholstery
• Six-layer canvas soft-top
• 22-inch carbon-fibre composite alloy wheels
• Self-righting emblem
• Bespoke 16-speaker Rolls-Royce audio system
• Night view assist