Not all six-figure, two-door cars are designed to break the sound barrier. Some are built to do the opposite, and be whisper quiet. The Rolls-Royce Dawn is one such vehicle. Powered by a mammoth 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 engine, the Dawn is what Rolls-Royce calls its "sexiest" offering. It has an impressive level of performance, with the powerplant producing up to 593 horsepower and 620 lb-ft of torque - but that's not the focus. The Dawn is about being spirited from one extravagant location to the next in sublime comfort and style - the fact that you can do so at 155 mph is simply a bonus. Is it enough of a bonus to justify its $350,000 price tag? Probably not, but perhaps the lambswool floor mats are.
The Dawn carries over from 2019 with no changes other than a new dark brushed metal interior trim option that is added to the catalog.
Instantly recognizable, the Dawn is a genuine Rolls-Royce. The front end is characterized by an imposing vaned grille, either side of which LED headlights reside. On the hood, the trademark Spirit of Ecstasy figurine rises to prominence. Along the profile, a large chromed door handle runs from the front fender, allowing access via the rear-hinged suicide doors. 20-inch wheels are standard, with 21s optional. Chrome brightwork features all over the car, including the rear, where a pair of exhaust tips are the subtle but perfect addition to a posterior that is simple but not bland.
There is no such thing as a small Rolls-Royce, and the Dawn is no exception. Despite only having two doors, the thing measures 208.5 inches from nose to tail, with a wheelbase of 122.5 inches. Width is 76.7 inches, yet the proportions appear perfectly balanced. Height measures 59.1 inches, ensuring headroom is generous. Naturally, a lot of expensive materials and a huge engine add considerable weight, so the Dawn has a base curb weight of up to 5,644 pounds.
There are over 44,000 color options available for every Rolls-Royce. Let that sink in for a second. No matter what your favorite color, Rolls-Royce likely already has a palette that includes a hue matching what you're fond of to a T. Various collections of colors are available, and duo-tone finishes are available along with a hand-painted stripe in whatever color you choose. While we don't have the kind of bank account that allows us to browse colors for days on end, the ones that stand out from the online configurator are Dark Indigo, Crystal over Salamanca Blue, Iced Selby Grey, and Arctic White. If none of the colors suit you, absolutely anything can be submitted as a sample for their paint engineers to perfectly match.
Rolls-Royce has never been a brand obsessed with going faster than everyone else, but they do still cater for the oil barons who require a little more zing from their luxury land-yacht. Thus, the Black Badge variant of the Dawn is offered. The 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 remains, but instead of the 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque in the supposedly underpowered regular Dawn, the Black Badge turns things up to 11 with 593 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque. Despite its tremendous weight and rear-wheel-drive layout, this variant can get from 0-60 in just under five seconds. Top speed is shared by both models, with the limit achieved at 155 mph. Regardless of the figures, the reputation of the Rolls-Royce brand hangs on the smoothness, tranquility, and serenity of the drive, and these are the defining characteristics of the way the Dawn delivers its performance. It's more of a continuous but clean wave that you're barely aware of riding, rather than a vertical drop from the crest of a tsunami.
Those accustomed to the RR way of doing things will be aware of how all their products are excellent at soaking up bumps and corrugations, making it feel like you're driving on a cloud of comfort. The road ahead is scanned and the adaptive self-leveling air suspension adjusts accordingly, pre-setting the suspension before the bump is even hit. The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox is similarly pre-emptive, using data from the navigation system to choose the right gear for optimal smoothness and grace through corners. Thus, the settings of the throttle and the transmission encourage smoothness, displaying an imperceptible transition from one gear to the next. This means that hard acceleration is barely felt, as the Dawn is so quiet - thanks in part to its six-layer soft-top - that you are highly likely to look down at the speedometer and realize that you're on the verge of catching up with your private jet. The weight is difficult to overcome from the line, but the moment the Dawn starts rolling, a surge of effortless power wafts you from county to county.
Despite such an otherworldly and obsessive focus on ultimate comfort, the Dawn is surprisingly enjoyable to drive through the bends, with accurate and eager steering that is light enough to operate with one finger. It's not the type of enjoyment you get from driving a Porsche 911, and the Dawn cannot hide its weight, but it brings a smile to your face nonetheless. Naturally, there's a fair amount of body roll, but smooth driving is rewarded. The brakes are capable of slowing the hefty vehicle quickly, too, but retain easy modulation so that the supermodel next to you doesn't spill her Dom Perignon. In the Black Badge variant, the steering rack is quicker, the brakes bigger, and the transmission and throttle sharpened slightly, but you can still smash most bumps without much noticeable effect on ride comfort. At the end of the day, the Dawn, whichever variant you opt for, will coddle and cosset you, but if you want something similarly luxurious yet agile and sporty, the people at Bentley will be happy to take an order for a Continental.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn's fuel economy comes dangerously close to single digits in the city, but that's to be expected when you have a 6.6-liter V12 pulling over 5,500 lbs around. Official EPA figures estimate that the Dawn will achieve 12/18/14 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. The gas tank has a capacity of 21.7 gallons, and should, therefore, return a range of around 303 miles with mixed driving.
As is always the case with every Rolls-Royce product, opening the door is like stepping into a palatial smoking parlor, where only the finest wood and the richest leather adorns every surface. Leather and wood are used by numerous manufacturers, but there's an instantaneous realization that this is something special, something different. The fact that you can have lambswool floor mats is just the cherry on top of the cake of opulence. Naturally, the interior is spacious and elegantly styled, with an obsessive level of perfection applied to every stitch, seam, and fitting. However, this isn't a two-door Phantom, and the back seats are not as spacious as the press material would have you believe.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn is a four-seater, but not in the traditional Rolls sense. This car is not designed for those in the back seat to be the center of attention. Instead, the Dawn is a Rolls meant for driving. Thus, the back seats are big enough for a pair of six-footers if the roof is down and if the trip won't be an extended one. Rear seat legroom and headroom are not the greatest, but at least the large doors make climbing in and out a bit easier. In the front, the standard power-adjustable seats are far more accommodating. The driver has a clear view out in all directions, and it's far easier to get comfortable in one of the front seats. As expected, the seats are luxuriant and offer good support, with the focus being more on lounging behind the wheel than being pressed into place.
The interior finishings of the Rolls-Royce Dawn are completely free of cheap materials and plastic. A sea of leather is balanced by cascading wood that is as symmetrical as one can expect from a naturally occurring material. As with the paint, the choices here are practically limitless, with even colored carbon fiber available. Various types of wood include Walnut Burr, Smoked Chestnut, Mahogany, and Black Stained Ash. A new metal fascia is also available in a dark brushed finish and even the trunk floor can be finished in wood. The leather is also available in a variety of colors, including Dark Spice, Navy Blue, Consort Red, and Moccasin. Regardless of your choice, the ambiance is reminiscent of that of a luxury superyacht.
Considering the huge emphasis on luxury and comfort, you would expect the Dawn to be a capable grand tourer, but the trunk only offers 9.2 cubic feet of volume - enough for a pair of suitcases and not much else.
In the cabin, the door pockets are capacious enough for wallets while a glovebox and center console storage for both front and rear passengers provide additional space. A spot for your smartphone is also included.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn is not the best car on the market for number of features, but the ones that are fitted are impressive. These include a surround-view camera, keyless entry, a hands-free trunk, quad-zone automatic climate control, self-adjusting adaptive air suspension, adaptive LED headlights, cruise control with curve detection, heated seats, heated mirrors, parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers. The Black Badge builds on this with ventilated front seats and a dual-mode exhaust. Options include massaging front seats, a head-up display, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, a night vision camera, and adaptive cruise control.
Since parent company BMW has an excellent infotainment system with the iDrive setup, the Dawn borrows the software and a 10.25-inch touchscreen display that can be hidden behind a trim panel. Overall, the system is brilliant with quick responses and an easy to understand navigation interface, but although the graphics are new, they are too similar to what you find in a BMW product, thus watering down the appeal slightly. Nevertheless, you have almost everything you could want, with voice-activated navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, a USB port, and Apple CarPlay. Android Auto is not offered, but the standard 19-speaker sound system with a 600W amplifier should help you get over it. If that's not enough, an upgraded system with the same speaker count goes by the name Rolls-Royce Bespoke Audio and brings with it a 1,300W amplifier. A TV tuner and a 3G Wi-Fi hotspot are also available.
Thus far, the Rolls-Royce Dawn has been completely free of recalls - a testament to the quality and workmanship put into the car.
In the event of any issues, a fully comprehensive warranty covers the Dawn for the first four years. Roadside assistance and complimentary scheduled maintenance are also offered for the same period, with none of the warranties restricted by mileage limits. A six-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty is also included.
The Dawn is far too expensive for crash tests, and neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has tested the car. However, an extensive array of available safety features are likely to keep all occupants safe.
As standard, the Dawn is equipped with a surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive LED headlights, and rain-sensing wipers. The options list offers more protection, with a night vision camera, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning. Included on every Dawn is a suite of airbags too, with dual-stage frontal, knee, and side-impact airbags.
At the outset, we questioned if the Dawn was worthy of its exceptionally lofty price tag. What we failed to mention was that the car is not fully equipped from the factory, and the price tag for a fully comprehensive package is even higher. Nevertheless, at this stratospheric level of opulence and luxury, such pedestrian concerns like money are of no concern. Even if you do want to justify where the money goes, the impeccable finishings, exceedingly brilliant ride, and effortlessly powerful engine are evidence that your money would be well spent here. The only foibles we have are with the infotainment system, which could use a unique stylization interface, and the handling, which is slightly wallowy with aggressive driving. In all other respects, the Dawn is excellent. Besides, who cares when a land yacht intentionally handles like one? Not the people who can afford to park on the Monaco waterfront.
Base pricing is listed at $346,300, before a destination charge of $2,750. Opting for the Black Badge variant will set you back an additional $50,000 or so, and fully loaded, it's not inconceivable to pay close to half a million dollars for a truly custom Rolls-Royce Dawn.
The 2020 Dawn is available in two variants: Dawn and Dawn Black Badge. Both utilize an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission with predictive gearing and a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 that sends all its output to the rear tires.
The "regular" Dawn, if there is such a thing, produces 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. It rides on 20-inch wheels and features an exquisite leather interior with a cascading wood contrast featuring throughout the cabin as standard. Furthermore, you get a 10.25-inch BMW-sourced touchscreen infotainment system and an 18-speaker surround-sound audio system. You also get adaptive LED headlights, cruise control with curve detection, heated seats all-round, voice-activated navigation, parking sensors, keyless entry, and adaptive air suspension.
The Black Badge version is Rolls-Royce's idea of a performance model, yet one that still maintains the brand's reputation for luxury and serenity. The suspension is slightly firmer and the steering rack is quicker. The gearbox and throttle response settings have been retuned for a more engaging drive, too, and a dual-mode sports exhaust system (who would've thought you'd hear those words when referring to a Rolls?) is included as well. The big news for this model, however, is that you get more power, with 593 horses and 620 lb-ft of twist. Ventilated front seats are also included here.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn is a well-equipped vehicle, but further convenience and comfort add-ons can be specified at your request. These include ventilated and massaging front seats, A TV Tuner, an upgraded sound system, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Three safety-focused packages are available too, with Driver Assistance 1 adding a head-up display, auto high beams, and lane departure warning. Driver Assistance 2 adds to this with a night vision camera, while Driver Assistance 3 features the contents of the first two packages along with adaptive cruise control.
If you can afford to buy a Rolls-Royce Dawn, you likely have an idea of what you'd like it to look like and what features you'd want. More importantly, you can afford to add expensive options to the car. Thus, we'd recommend going all out and splurging on lambswool floor mats, plus ventilated and massaging seats to complement the standard quad-zone climate control. We'd also opt for the uprated sound system to truly drown out any wind noise with the top down. Finally, we'd elect to make our Dawn as safe and as convenient as possible by equipping all available driver aids.
The Dawn is essentially a drop-top version of the Wraith, a car that was widely hailed as an impressively sporty Rolls, and a bit of a departure from regular form for the Goodwood-based brand. So which one should you get? Although money is no object at this level, it's worth noting that the Wraith is around $25,000 more affordable than the Dawn. In addition, it has a marginally bigger gas tank, a much larger trunk (16.6 cubic feet to be exact), and even more power. The Wraith produces more power than even the Black Badge version of the Dawn, with 624 hp. In addition, because you have a proper roof, handling is improved and you get a man-made constellation of stars in the headliner. That last feature is worth the buy alone.
Not everyone wants a whisper-quiet ride and suspension so soft that it feels like you're floating. That's where something like the Bentley Continental GT Convertible comes in, or GTC as it is more commonly known. Bentley has a colorful racing heritage, and they reflect that with capable and sharp sports cars that are still exceedingly luxurious and over-engineered. In the unlikely event that you can only afford to choose one of these, the Bentley is far more budget-friendly, with a base price of $222,700. Despite being smaller, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 in the Continental GTC is barely behind the output of the Rolls, managing 542 hp. However, the real reason you'd choose the Bentley has nothing to do with numbers, but everything to do with how it drives. The Bentley is far sharper and more engaging, and in our books, it's prettier too. That said, ultimate luxury has been perfected by the people at Rolls-Royce, so it depends on what you're after.
Check out some informative Rolls-Royce Dawn video reviews below.