Rolls-Royce Dawn

Not so much a test drive this week as an occasion. The Dawn is a convertible of epic proportions, be it the price (£264,000 before you even add on a hand-stitched, RR monogram to the seat, or a set of lambs wool floor mats), or the tech spec of the engine (V12, 563bhp and 20mpg combined). Everything about this four-seat convertible is above and beyond. In fact, the only downside for German autobahn users might be a limited top speed of 155mph. It’s smaller than a Phantom (thank goodness) but looks better proportioned too. Join us for a long weekend of outrageous opulence…

Difficult name but otherwise the Rolls-Royce Dawn is charming

It’s not Rolls-Royce’s fault they called it the Dawn. How were they to know I once had a ‘difficult’ girlfriend with the same name.

And just like the naming of your new puppy, you won’t give it a moniker that reminds you of somebody you don’t like. Which rules out quite afew names, actually.

So, a weekend with the Dawn. Relaxed, comfortable driving sat on a well plumped pillow. Serenely peaceful in the cabin – apart from a glovebox that pops open on harsh bumps. Why is that?

I’ve actually been tootalling around at about 55mph. Not to save fuel (17.9mpg so far) but because you just don’t need to travel any father.

And it’s a car that commands respect too – until anything from Porsche or BMW.  Provided you don’t drive it like a knob, people seem to part out of your way. Lovely.

It may be the smaller Roller but it’s still mighty big to handle around town. Rerversing can be a nightmare with restricted visibility. I ended up relying totally on the cameras.

A lovely car for wafting about in. And about as British a feeling as you can get in any car these days …

Rolls-Royce Dawn. More an ocassion than a car

Nobody has managed to pass the Dawn on my driveway without making a comment. Not one person. Everyone, from the local squire to the village idiot has had their say.

And surprisingly, most of those comments have been good. I mention that because driving a car this ‘in-yer-face’ often brings out the worst in people. Little do they know I couldn’t afford a new set of wheels for a Dawn, not without a bank loan.

A smaller sibling of the Phantom, the Dawn is still bloody huge. I’ve already discovered it’s a nightmare for three-point turns and don’t even think about squeezing into a tight parking space.

But then it’s quite a wondrous thing to just stand back and admire too. Long drive up the M6 tomorrow when I can report back more…

The Rolls-Royce Ghost is the car everybody loves to hate it seems

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After five days in the Rolls-Royce Ghost, my friends and I have decided that what the company really needs to build is a mini version – something you can actually use on British roads without offending people.

Sadly, the Ghost is simply too large to be a practical tool in the UK. This is a car that is best used on the wide open expanses of the Middle East and the USA.

Just parking the thing is a nightmare. It’s too long for British parking spaces – and God help you if you hold people up in the manoeuvre too. This is the car everybody loves to hate.

And that really is the one major drawback about the Rolls that you won’t find in many car reviews or brochures – you have to have a very thick skin to drive it.

An acoustic exhaust system? No, no, no! Not on a Rolls-Royce

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Silence is golden? Well, not if you are designing a luxurious modern car. These days, pretty much every expensive motor I test is equipped with a button that opens the ports on the exhaust to let a roar out.

And if there’s no button, like in an Aston Martin, then the exhaust has been tweaked to produce a suitably atmospheric grumble. There’s one fitted to my Porsche 911 S but to be honest, it’s pretty tiresome if you are trying to listen to the radio or touring.

So what an unexpected joy it is to slip into the Ghost and discover there is no such vulgarity. It really is true what they say, you can only hear the clock ticking in a Rolls (actually you can’t because even the clock is silent these days).

In fact, my only major cock-up in the Ghost has been pressing the start button twice. The V12 is so quiet you can’t hear the thing start. Try that in a Maserati…

The bling is on the inside of the Rolls-Royce Ghost II

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I’m just getting used to feeling unloved driving the Ghost. It’s quite the maddest sensation when a woman in a £100,000 Range Rover snarls at you – especially as I could barely afford to fuel her car on a daily basis.

Driving a Rolls-Royce obviously means I’m successful. And we Brits just love to knock a success story at every available opportunity.

And that means if I make the slightest driving cock-up at the wheel, it’s open season on the posh bloke in the driving seat!

At least I am cocooned in a cabin of luxurious bling. My favourite feature thus far? Forget the grunt from that V12, the armchair seats and the whisper quiet engine, it’s the fairy lights.

Yep, the Ghost has an interior headlining covered in hundreds of star-like twinklers when you get in at night. It’s quite lovely and reassures me that even Rolls-Royce has a sense of humour.

Unlike the Cotswold lady in the Range Rover.

What’s it like to own a Rolls-Royce? Join us for a bit of Ghost writing

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Nobody else on the road is going to love you in a Rolls-Royce. To most people it’s as vulgar as a real fur coat. Statement cars don’t get any more verbal than this – or much more expensive.

For the price of a detached house in Leeds you can ponce around in the equivalent of an Englishman’s castle on wheels – cocooned in your own little world of hope and glory.

I sat in a hotel on Park Lane last week and saw a steady stream of Rolls-Royces passing by. They’re everywhere in the West End but a rarer sight in the West Country, where I’m going to be steering it for the next seven days.

So what’s it actually like to own a Rolls-Royce – to pop to the shops, do the daily commute and squeeze in to a normal sized parking space?

Well, I’m about to find out in the Ghost II. Join us for daily updates from the back and front seats of the Rolls to find out…