Before we get into the details of the Rolls-Royce Dawn, you need to understand something. You do not see a Dawn, you do not climb into a Dawn — you have an encounter with a Dawn.
Yes, we know, it is all a bit hoity-toity, but that is how the designers refer to it. What they do not refer to the Dawn as is a Wraith convertible — or drophead, to use another Rolls term — although technically it is.
I get the encounter thing though. Everywhere I went people showed the Dawn respect. I have said it before, but for some reason no-one ever looks at you when you are driving a Rolls with a look of contempt in their eyes. Instead people wave, applaud and show you respect. One chap even blew me a kiss while I was sitting in traffic in lllovo.
Like other Rolls models, the Dawn represents the ultimate in handcrafted luxury. Yes there are a few elements that have come out of a BMW warehouse, but apart from the infotainment system, you will struggle to find them. They are mostly beneath all that craftsmanship that takes hours to create.
From the elegant Spirit of Ecstasy on the top of the grille to the sumptuous leather and that folding roof that creates an occasion on its own, the Dawn is about presence. It is also about a sense of wonder.
My three-year-old wanted to sleep in the back. Not in the seats mind you, she wanted to sleep in those deep carpets in the footwell which she was astonished to find her hands could almost disappear into.
Then she discovered the perfectly crafted button that releases the umbrella from inside the front wing. I am not sure she had a grown-up level of respect for the Dawn but she was fascinated with it.
I found more people who were in awe of the Roller when I took it for a drive to Boksburg. It might not seem like the first place you would take a Rolls to, but I took it to meet some other British products when I went to the UK Emporium.
I had run out of PG Tips tea, so what better motor to take to restock than the Dawn.
As it turned out, it was an insightful trip. While chatting to a member of the team it transpired that one of the guys used to work in the paintshop at Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England. He knew everything about the car and the numerous craftspeople who assembled it.
I came away with more than just a few pyramid tea bags. Not much more though, the exchange rate might have improved but I was not about to fill up the decent sized boot with stuff I might have wanted but undoubtedly didn’t need.
Improvements in the exchange rate have improved the price of the Dawn though, quiet substantially in fact, but you can still expect to be paying quite a few millions if you want regular encounters with it.
Driving around Joburg, the Dawn takes you into another world. The V12 might produce 420kW and 780Nm of torque but you are rarely going to make use of it. Instead you cruise as though you have reached some higher state of consciousness.
It is all effortless and I can imagine that a Rolls has to be at the top of the list for vehicles destined to be enhanced by autonomous driving technology.
Except the Dawn is all about being social. It is designed for four people to sit in comfort and enjoy the drive. It is all about turning the journey into as much of an occasion as the destination itself. I might only have had a brief encounter with the Dawn, but it was one to remember.