Rolls-Royce Dawn – the sexiest Rolls ever built?

Rolls-Royce Dawn

With the Rolls-Royce Dawn, the famous British marque claims this classy convertible is the ‘sexiest Rolls ever built’ and, with its stylish cabin, seductive lines and smooth ride quality, it lives up to the promise, writes Tiff Needell

While some might begrudge Britain’s mighty Rolls-Royce marque now lying under German ownership, there is no doubt BMW has both revived a dying breed and honoured its great pedigree.

Nearly 70 years after the first Rolls-Royce Dawn was launched, a new Dawn has arrived. The original Silver Dawn was the first Rolls-Royce offered with the option of a complete factory-built body as the golden era of specialist coachbuilders drew to a close.

While the new model may not be a first, it is still only the third convertible Rolls-Royce has produced, following the 1966 Corniche and the Phantom Drophead Coupé, available since 2007. It’s based on the platform of the Ghost-based Wraith, but Rolls-Royce insists the Dawn is in no way a Wraith Drophead, with 80 per cent of exterior panels new to the design.

The company also heralds the Dawn as the “sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built” – I’ll leave you to be the judge of that. What we have, though, is an unquestionably elegant car – with six layers of fabric – and one that is just as quiet as its coupé sibling with the roof up.

But it is not quite as sprightly; the extra strengthening for a more complex roof has added 200kg on top of an already mighty 2.4 tonnes. Perhaps to hide its inevitable slowing effect, Rolls-Royce has inserted a milder 570 horsepower version of its fabled 6.6-litre twin-turbo, leaving it 62hp shy and 0.3 seconds slower in reaching 62mph.

But that won’t worry Dawn buyers because all they want to do is to cruise gracefully across continents, slowing to 30mph when entering towns – and let two almost inaudible electric motors peel back the roof in just 22 seconds.

Now all the world can see the deluxe leather hide of the seats, the lambswool carpets, the wood and polished metal touches around the dashboard – all ooze the quality you would expect from this grand marque. Four individual seats offer comfort for all and the huge rear-hinged doors allow rear passengers a graceful exit. Indeed, with the roof down they can stand up and leave the car as if stepping off a yacht.

Despite its size and weight, the Dawn retains an unruffled stance with the air springs soaking up any imperfections the road throws at it – not that it’s not a car that encourages you to hustle round every corner.

With supercar prices becoming ever more ridiculous, the £264,000 price tag doesn’t even sound that outrageous. So, if you want what Rolls-Royce proudly claims is “the most uncompromised open-top motoring experience in the world”, you should wake up to the Dawn.

Rolls-Royce Dawn

Top speed 155mph limited
Acceleration 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds

Engine 6.6-litre twin-turbo petrol generating 570 horsepower
Gearbox 8-speed automatic

Economy 19.9mpg
Price £264,000

Performance 8/10
Handling 7/10

Economy 7/10
Comfort 9/10

Quality 10/10
Desirability 9/10

Rolls-Royce Dawn gallery and more

Watch the Rolls-Royce Dawn unveiling

About author

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell

Tiff Needell is a former Grand Prix driver who spent most of his professional career racing in the World Sportscar Championship including 14 Le Mans 24 Hour races where he had a best result of third in 1990. He is however perhaps better known as a former presenter of Top Gear throughout the nineties and then helped to create ‘Fifth Gear’ which enters its 14th year in 2015. Tiff recently wrote his autobiography Tiff Gear, is Director magazine’s columnist, races whenever the opportunity arises and has now rejoined Clarkson, co-presenting at Top Gear Live.

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