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.
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.
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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.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
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.
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.
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