by Roger Biermann
Few things offer the opulence of a Rolls-Royce, even more so when it's the drop-top Rolls-Royce Dawn. The four-seat convertible bearing the Spirit of Ecstasy is largely based on the Wraith coupe, which itself shares a platform with the previous generation BMW 7 Series. But this is no mere re-shelled Bimmer sedan; this is class, opulence, and the definition of sumptuousness. According to Rolls, this is the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever – and we agree. The epitome of elegance sits nearly in a class of one though; this isn't the kind of car you drive in, you waft along with it.
6.6-liter Twin-Turbo V12 Gas
Inside the Rolls-Royce Dawn, you'll be hard pressed to find anything but luxuriant leathers and real forestry in the rich wooden veneers that adorn most surfaces. The analog instrument gauges, with chrome center buttons, openly defy the digital trend many manufacturers are following. The same can't be said of the infotainment system, which aside from revised fonts and color schemes is merely a re-clothed BMW iDrive system. The system works exceptionally, and can be hidden behind a wooden veneer for when minimalism is the ultimate sophistication.
With the roof up, the Dawn offers more headroom in the cabin than the coupe sibling Wraith. The soft-top raised, cabin insulation is impeccable, barely a whisper of engine or wind noise making it inside. The four occupants each get their own zone of climate control, but at the touch of a button, climate is dependant entirely on Mother Nature.
One doesn't drive a Rolls-Royce, one gets driven. The Dawn is no different – built to be chauffeur driven in supreme comfort. Aladdin had a magic carpet, but in a Dawn you have a cloud. Air suspension seemingly removes any and all bumps from the road, defining comfort in a vehicle of this size. But, a ride this comfortable doesn't come without compromise – and in this case body roll is incredibly pronounced. Heavy braking sees the nose dip and dive too – but drive the Dawn gently, and she responds in kind. The lightness with which it moves translates into the steering too – the large diameter wheel lacks feel but responds to the lightest of touches, responding to inputs made by a single finger. The front end follows inputs deftly, but without sharp eagerness. This is no driver's machine – this is just mere comfort.
Beneath the lengthy hood of the Rolls-Royce Dawn lays the 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 from the Wraith, but detuned to produce 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a GPS-orientated 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox, without a manual shift function that uses GPS to detect optimal shift points based on the landscape. The shifts are tuned to be slushy and imperceptible, and the engine's responses dulled as to not upset the gentle wafting of the Dawn – yet when power arrives, the surge of speed is brutal.
Though there are innumerable ways to customize and option your Dawn, there's also a substantial amount of standard kit aboard. You get power-closing rear-hinged coach doors, self-adjusting suspension, adaptive LED headlights, cruise control with curve detection, and a surround camera. Standard safety features include stability control and ABS brakes. There are two additional safety packages – Driver Assistance System One and Three. One includes lane departure warning, automatic high-beams, and a heads-up display. Drive Assistance System Three includes all features from One, and it adds to that an infrared night vision display, and adaptive cruise control.
The sexiest Rolls-Royce ever made is also one of the most opulent you can dream of. Luxuriant and exclusive, driving or being chauffeured in a Rolls-Royce Dawn is one of the most comfortable experiences you can have on four wheels – your very own personal cloud awaits.