Hopefully, it's not gone long.
Most Rolls-Royce models are best enjoyed from the isolated rear seat, but the Dawn is different. With its convertible roof, the Dawn isn't meant for hiding from the outside world but rather basking in its glory from a rolling throne. It's an experience unlike any other; less brash than a convertible supercar yet more dazzling than a Rolls-Royce sedan. Sadly, we received some unfortunate news earlier this year that the 2021 Rolls-Royce Dawn (and the Wraith coupe) would be discontinued in the United States.
With the sun literally setting on the Dawn, CarBuzz had one last opportunity to drive one. If you can still place an order for a Dawn, we highly urge you to do so now. After experiencing (nearly) the entire Rolls-Royce lineup, we think the Dawn is the ultimate expression of what this company can achieve.
Let's address the brightly colored elephant in the room; our Dawn Black Badge tester was delivered wearing an unmissable shade of orange called Saint Tropez. Named after the vibrant town on the French Riviera, this hue attracted more stares than any vehicle we've ever reviewed. A yellow Lamborghini may as well be a taxi cab parked next to this. So many owners opt for boring shades such as black, white, or silver when unique colors like this are available F.O.C (free of charge) from Rolls-Royce. That's right; this awesome color doesn't cost a dime!
The orange perfectly suits the character of the Dawn, to stand out in a reserved way. Unlike a supercar, the Dawn doesn't shout at its own arrival with a loud exhaust pop and the lifting of a vertical door opening; it silently pulls up and lets its sheer presence do the talking. With the roof down, the driver and their occupants are exposed to the outside world, so they can better observe the smiles on people's faces as the Dawn passes by.
The Dawn gives its occupants a chance to bask in the sun's warm glow while riding on a cloud. Typical of any Rolls-Royce, the Dawn's chairs are magnificent, akin to an expensive leather recliner. Every button and knob in the cabin feels fastidiously designed to provide a top-notch experience. Something so pedestrian as adjusting the volume on a song feels special when you do it using a leather-wrapped knob. Our Dawn tester was lined with Shelby Gray leather, accented with bold orange leather to match the exterior. Rolls-Royce allows owners to customize nearly anything about their vehicle but we can't think of anything we'd do to change how this one was optioned.
Unlike most drop-top vehicles, the Dawn can comfortably be enjoyed by four adults. Rolls-Royce claims it designed this car to accommodate a six-foot-tall driver plus three of their six-foot-tall friends. Driver's who'd prefer to reserve their companionship to a single passenger can opt for the aero cowling roof, which turns the Dawn into a two-seater with a stylish roofline.
Rolls-Royce doesn't build "sports models," but the Black Badge line is the next-closest thing. This more exclusive sub-brand within Rolls-Royce offers more power, devilish black accents, and slightly more aggressive tuning. Of all the models in the Rolls-Royce range, the Dawn seems most apt for Black Badge treatment. In standard form, the Dawn's creamy V12 serves out 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque. In the Dawn Black Badge, those numbers climb to 602 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque.
The twin-turbo V12 remains silent during most occasions, but it transforms from Mozart to Osbourne when you lay into the throttle. It's not an overpowering noise, but it provides enough growl to remind you twelve cylinders are firing under the hood. 60 mph is dealt with in 4.6 seconds, and the Dawn will cruise silently at 155 mph. With the top raised, this is the quietest convertible we've ever tested.
Rolls-Royce hasn't seen a drop in demand for the Dawn, but it wants to keep its model lineup exclusive, which means pruning certain vehicles in specific markets. While newer models like the Ghost, Phantom, and Cullinan all ride on the company's latest Architecture of Luxury, the Dawn (and the Wraith) still ride on the outgoing F01 platform, which was loosely shared with the BMW 7 Series.
Trust us, the Dawn drives nothing like any BMW model, but some of its technology feels out of date. The user interface in this car is less advanced than Rolls-Royce's newer vehicles, but it still boasts wireless Apple CarPlay. This was the last Rolls-Royce to feature analog gauges, which we prefer to the newer digital units, and it's also the last to send power only to the rear wheels. Without an all-wheel-drive option, we can see why the Dawn has a less limited appeal for owners who want to drive their cars year-round.
Whether it continues under the Dawn nameplate or something Rolls-Royce's illustrious past, we hope the UK automaker replaces this car with great haste. The Rolls-Royce lineup will feel empty without a convertible, offering a vastly different experience than the Ghost or Phantom sedans and Cullinan SUV. As evidenced by the coachbuilt Boat Tail, the Architecture of Luxury can support a convertible, meaning we could see a spiritual successor in the future. Until then, we bid the Rolls-Royce Dawn a sad farewell.