The Dawn might not so much be a vehicle as it is a mobile monument to luxury. Rolls-Royce's convertible provides the same sumptuous trimmings as its other cars, but with a folding soft top. While some Rollers let occupants relax behind back-seat curtains, the Dawn puts whoever's in it on display. It was introduced for the 2016 model year and effectively replaced the Phantom Drophead Coupe in Rolls-Royce's lineup.
Unlike some other Rolls-Royce models, the Dawn isn't meant to be a chauffeur-driven vehicle. Instead, it's a grandiose machine built to lavish whoever's behind the wheel.
Part of that is thanks to the V-12 engine, but the Dawn's opulence is multifaceted. Between its buttery ride, plush seats, and incredible quietude the Dawn in some ways feels like a roadgoing yacht. Yet unlike a boat the Dawn handles better than its imposing size might suggest.
It being a Rolls-Royce the Dawn is configurable in a vast range of colors and trims, with deep personalization options offered. Even so it's not the most high-tech or modern vehicle out there. But that's not the point. Instead, the Dawn's intent is to cosset its driver in open-air luxury.
Under the Dawn's long bonnet resides a twin-turbo 6.6-liter V-12 connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. In standard specification it produces 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque, while in sporty Black Badge guise output rises to 593 hp and 619 lb-ft. That should enable a 0-60 mph time of between 4.5 and 4.9 seconds, pretty quick considering this vehicle's tonnage. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 12/18 mpg city/highway.
If you want a sports car there are better choices than a Rolls-Royce. But if you want a sporty Rolls-Royce, you get a Black Badge model. In the case of the Dawn Black Badge the V-12 engine's output rises, and is better heard thanks to a new exhaust system. Chassis and drivetrain changes provide more agility and responsiveness. Carbon fiber and dark metal trim lend a sleek, modern aesthetic, but Dawn Black Badge clients can still configure their cars however they please.
Dawn prices start at $363,000, which puts it among the most expensive convertibles. That sum does not factor the mandatory $2,750 delivery fee and $2,600 gas guzzler tax. Nor does it include any options, which are abundant on any Rolls-Royce model. Custom paints, bespoke trims, and personalized details are among the choices. Or there are special edition packages like the Dawn Silver Bullet or Black Badge Adamas. As we've seen with other Rolls-Royce models, it's easy to add hundreds of thousands of dollars of niceties to the Dawn's base price.
The Dawn is a convertible version of the Wraith, which is a two-door version of the Ghost sedan. Considering that the Ghost was fully redesigned for the 2021 model year, it stands to reason that a new Dawn is in the cards. Like the Ghost it'll likely adopt more chiseled styling, along with a spirited driving demeanor. As before, a folding soft top and V-12 engine are near certainties for the next-generation Dawn, which could arrive for the 2022 or 2023 model year.