Saying the words ‘Rolls Royce’ makes an image appear in the mind which defies adequate description.
The word isn’t ‘class’ – that’s too obvious, and it isn’t ‘understated’ – because if we’re being honest it isn’t always. But one word which never, ever, comes to mind is ‘garish’ – until now I’m afraid.
The Rolls Royce Dawn was released to the world in March, and the quarter-of-a-million pound drophead has enjoyed rave reviews, but I can’t help but think it looks like the kind of car a Lotto jackpot winner would go for.
Don’t roll your eyes. This isn’t a case of sour grapes because I was not one of those journalists able to go for a test drive. I lust after and rave about plenty of cars I’ll never get to own (or drive), Jaguar’s fairly new F-Type being one of them.
This is very much a case of reading information and trying not to vomit. I had such an experience this weekend when flicking through the Sunday Times and finding out customers can specify the Spirit of Ecstasy bonnet mascot with a light, so it glows when the car is unlocked at night.
It reminds of the time I read about the new Mustang’s logo being projected onto the footwell when you open the driver’s door. It’s just all a bit like booking a pink limo for a night out.
If you ignore this, and the fact the Dawn looks horrible in the picture you see on this page, there are still reasons to be turned off, despite the fact only a fortnight ago it was awarded Design of the Year by Robb Report in its Cars of the Year awards.
I get the fact travelling in a Rolls Royce is about luxury and it always has been, but there is enough wood finishing in the back to put Noah’s Ark to shame.
Rolls Royce describe the deck as “an amazing work of modern craftsmanship”.
Customers can choose the wood to suit their taste (though if they had any and had that much to spend on a car they’d look for a Silver Ghost) and it flows down what they call the ‘waterfall’ between the rear seats and around the cabin, including the door panels.
You will, of course, know this is a drophead as well and not a convertible, and you will know that because this a Rolls Royce that means you don’t get a two plus two but a proper four-seater. And reviews suggest there is enough room in the back to stand and disembark rather than climb out, in true Rolls Royce fashion. They’ve even raised the Spirit of Ecstasy on the bonnet so it can be seen from the back – just in case you’d forgotten what it looks like from when you unlocked the car.
There is also a way to drown out the silence of the Dawn thanks to its audio system that boasts 16 individually-tuned speakers, with both theatre and studio setting.
Two bass speakers sit in the boot with seven tweeters meticulously placed throughout the cabin. The system utilises a sensitive microphone to constantly monitor ambient exterior noise, subtly adjusting the volume and tone settings accordingly. I bet most DJs don’t have anything like that in their arsenal.
And on the road the eight-speed automatic gearbox is helped by Satellite Aided Transmission, which uses GPS data to select the right ratio for any given situation. The good bit is the 6.6 litre twin-turbo engine which can shift the hulking two-and-a-half tonne car from 0-62mph in five seconds and to a top speed of 155mph.
As you’d expect, you won’t get fuel economy, with figures reported around the 20 mpg mark. And not that you’d be concerned if you could afford to buy one, but tax for the first year would set you back £1,100 and £505 per year thereafter.
Rolls Royce has always gone for perfection, and a lot of the time it has been very close. But this time, until I drive one, I’d have to argue they’ve tried to hard. Give me £265,000 to spend on cars and I’d buy 100 Ladas. I honestly would.
Come on MG, be good sports!
When MG announce a new car it always makes me look-up to see if there’s any progress on their next sports car.
In 2014, it was reported the company were working on a successor to the TF, and it would be available by the end of the decade.
MG has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence lately with the MG3, a little hatchback not too dissimilar to a Volkswagen Polo or a Vauxhall Corsa.
But it’s believed the likelihood of a new sports car, what most of us associate the octagon with, hinges on the success of two more models.
A Ford Focus-rivalling MG5 is in the pipeline, but last week at the London Motor Show, they unveiled the MG GS – its first compact SUV.
To look at, the MG GS looks like a Nissan Qashqai or a Ford Kuga or insert another deliberately misspelt name here.
In other words, nobody tootling around in a B is going to be persuaded to go modern with these because of the badge.
There doesn’t look to be a lot to be excited about in that it will be carried by a 1.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine and it looks like what it is, a cheap school run car.
But, with the possibility of a sports car on the horizon, it might be worth crossing your fingers for this one to become popular.
The Mazda MX5 has proved how good modern sports cars which aren’t too out of this world to think about can be – and don’t forget the Mazda was essentially what a modern MGB should have looked like. Imagine if they came up with something worth shouting about in their return to the open-top sports car market – something that wouldn’t rust when it’s too wet to take the B out, or something that wouldn’t go bang on the motorway if you want to drive somewhere that’s too far to go in a Midget.
So if you see anyone looking at buying a family car with some funny spelling, direct them to an MG so we can have our sports car.