2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn

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2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn Test Drive Review: The Last Word In Luxury

There's no shortage of exotic vehicles that cost more than the average US house, but the Rolls-Royce Dawn convertible stands out as a rather special one. Most convertible vehicles in this price range prioritize speed and performance, but the Dawn envelops its occupants with decadent luxury while presenting an elegant face to the outside world.

In the Rolls-Royce lineup, the Dawn is relatively outdated next to models like the Ghost, Cullinan, and Phantom, while compared to its closest rival, the Bentley Continental GT Convertible, it's downright ancient. Newer Rolls vehicles ride on the carmaker's contemporary Architecture of Luxury platform, while the Dawn still uses an older BMW setup shared with the previous-generation BMW 7 Series. Don't let this hold you back from buying one; the Dawn still relies on a silky 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 engine producing up to 603 horsepower and 620 lb-ft of torque in Black Badge guise. It's mated to one of the finest eight-speed transmissions in the world, yielding an effortless driving experience. In the realm of drop-top luxury, the Rolls-Royce Dawn exists in a class of one.

2021 is the Rolls-Royce Dawn's final year in the US, so we spent a week with a Black Badge on review to see if it's still worth purchasing. Spoiler alert: it is.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 9 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 6 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 10 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 Dawn?

There are no upgrades when buying a new Rolls-Royce Dawn for 2021. In fact, there's only bad news. The Dawn and its closed-top sibling Wraith are being axed at the end of the year. The platform that the pair is based on is now causing legislative issues in the USA, resulting in the decision to discontinue. However, the two models will be sold internationally for a further two years.

Best Deals on Dawn

Pros and Cons

  • Arguably the most coveted badge in the industry
  • Beautiful exterior, in the proper configuration
  • Luxurious on a whole different level
  • Endless customization options
  • Possible collector-status in the future
  • No all-wheel-drive option
  • The V12 engine is thirsty
  • Lacking some advanced safety features
  • Trunk space is limited
  • Bad for your bank account

What's the Price of the 2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn?

The Rolls-Royce Dawn has an MSRP of $363,500, excluding the destination and delivery charge of $2,750. The Black Badge model retails for $414,500, but both models are also arty to a gas guzzler tax of $2,600. Those prices are before you even look at the options list. Now the online configurator doesn't supply prices for the various options, but you can get the standard Dawn to over $400,000 without trying too hard, and if you go the bespoke route of tailored paints and trim inlays, we wouldn't be surprised to see the price of the Rolls-Royce Dawn surge to beyond half a million dollars.

2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
6.6L Twin-Turbo V12 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Dawn Black Badge
6.6L Twin-Turbo V12 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

More than any other vehicle in the Rolls-Royce lineup, the Dawn begs to be driven rather than driven in. The steering is the typical Roll-Royce feather-light affair, but there's a genuinely direct connection to the road with no vagueness. There's a slight delay from the throttle, which is likely put there to stop occupants from spilling their sparkling water. It's not meant for performance driving, but the Dawn can get up to speed in a hurry. We enjoyed putting the transmission into its low setting to hear the dignified growl from the turbocharged V12 with the roof down. Stopping it, even with the Black Badge's larger brakes proves to be a bigger challenge, as bringing this much weight to a speedy halt feels like a war with physics.

Speaking of the roof, the Dawn is easily the quietest convertible we've ever been in, and even with the roof lowered and the double-thick windows up, the wind disturbance in the cabin is minimal. Comfortable driving is this car's forte, and it does so with more grace than nearly any other car on the market. Bumps are more or less erased by the pillowy suspension, but you can feel the road a bit more than other Rollers. From the driver's seat, the Dawn is our favorite Rolls-Royce.

Verdict: Is the 2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn A Good car?

Deciding whether or not to purchase a Rolls-Royce Dawn typically doesn't involve cross-shopping any other vehicles. In fact, most customers will compare this to buying a boat or perhaps a pied-à-terre on the French Riviera. With Rolls-Royce ending orders in the US after this model year, time is running out to purchase a Dawn. If you had any hesitation towards getting your order in before the books close, we urge you to leave them behind. The Dawn is a car that feels special and makes you feel special while driving it.

There are other luxury drop-tops on the market, like the Bentley Continental GT cabrio or upcoming Mercedes-AMG SL-Class, but those pale in comparison to the luxury found here. Nothing with a removable roof envelops its occupants in this manner; you'd have to turn towards a sedan or SUV to get close. Much like other Rolls-Royce models, the Dawn feels like it belongs in a class of one; there's nothing else like it on the market and we hope it gets a replacement in the near future. There won't be a new Rolls-Royce Dawn anytime soon, so the time to buy one is now.

What New Rolls-Royce Dawn Model Should I Buy?

The sky's the limit when speccing a Rolls-Royce Dawn, so we'd try to reach as high as possible, especially as it's not long for this world. Go for the Dawn Black Badge with the more powerful engine, starting at $414,500. That's a fair bit more than the base $363,500 MSRP, but at this price, what's another $60 grand? The average Black Badge customer adds another 15-20% in Bespoke content, meaning you might spend over half a million dollars on it. We'd go for a crazy color like the Saint Tropez on our tester, then pair it with a neutral interior with a few color-matched accents. To own the showiest model in the Rolls-Royce lineup, we think it's well worth the cost.

2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn Comparisons

Rolls-Royce Wraith Rolls-Royce
Bentley Continental GT Convertible Bentley

2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn vs Rolls-Royce Wraith

These two are essentially the same car, with the Dawn being the convertible option. The Wraith is marketed as a sporty take on the Rolls-Royce brand, but it will never live with supercars in its price league, nor was it meant to. At its core, it's still a bespoke luxury barge with continent-crushing abilities. It does, however, get stronger specs from the V12, generating up to 624 hp and 627 lb-ft and dropping the 0-60 sprint to 4.3 seconds in Black Badge format. Considering it's $25,500 cheaper than the Dawn, it presents itself as exceptional value for money, all things considered.

So, which is better? It boils down to personal preference. Some people just don't like convertibles, and in that case, you should buy a Wraith. Heck, in this price range, you can likely afford to get both and choose which one to use depending on the weather. When it's sunny out, the Dawn will be perfect, but the starlight headliner in the Wraith's roof is ideal for nights when the sky is overcast. Since driving a Rolls-Royce is more about the journey than the destination, we'd go with the convertible. It adds that extra layer of pomp and circumstance.

See Rolls-Royce Wraith Review

2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn vs Bentley Continental GT Convertible

We believe the Conti GT Convertible is the real reason Rolls-Royce no longer wants to compete in this segment. Bentley built an absolute beauty of a car that does everything the Rolls does and more. It, too, can do the luxury cruising thing, but it has a sporty persona as well. And, if anything, it looks even better. Bentley isn't scared of using modern technology, and its cars are all the better for it. Rolls-Royce uses a twin-turbo V12 to create 563 hp, while Bentley only needs a twin-turbo V8 to get 542 hp. And what a V8 it is. With the roof down, you can bask in the magnificence of the dirty, dirty noise it makes. Then there's an available W12 for when, well, more is more. The Bentley is also more efficient, which means a cruising range that's 200 miles more than the Rolls. All that, and the Bentley is a whole Mercedes-Benz S-Class cheaper than the Dawn. Of course, some might argue it doesn't feel as special, and there might be some credence to this argument, but objectively speaking, we'd have the Bentley. Subjectively, we'd have both.

See Bentley Continental GT Convertible Review

2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn Popular Comparisons

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