Dawn of a New Age – Rolls-Royce Dawn
Its name an homage to a famed Rolls-Royce drophead of the postwar era, the Dawn seamlessly blends the utmost in 21st-century technology with the utmost in traditional, bespoke craftsmanship, for an incomparable open-air driving experience.
In the Rolls-Royce lexicon, the name Dawn harkens to 1949, and to a Britain emerging from the darkness of the Second World War into a new era of cultural and economic possibility. The first car to carry the name, the 1949 Silver Dawn, was the first Rolls-Royce with a factory-built body. Rolls-Royce offered a convertible version of the Silver Dawn, although it was an exclusively coach-built affair, a nod to the rarefied tastes of its owners, who totalled just 28 in all.
Two summers ago, Rolls-Royce announced it was reviving the spirit of its storied convertible, abbreviating its name simply to Dawn. Since last January, when the first car off the production line sold at auction in the U.S. for $750,000, the Dawn has won accolades from virtually every major authority, from Top Gear to The Daily Telegraph. This year, the Dawn reaffirmed its status when it was declared Best Luxury Car in the 2017 UK Car of the Year Awards.
The Dawn is exceptional in several respects. It is the world’s only true four-seater super-luxury drophead coupé. It’s the quietest convertible in the world — as quiet as a Wraith, in fact, due to the advanced acoustic properties of a cloth top that stows itself away in a mere 22 seconds, a choreographed routine the automaker calls “the silent ballet.” And while the construction of its chassis makes it the stiffest four-seat convertible ever built, its exquisitely tuned suspension still delivers the same “magic carpet ride” for which Rolls-Royce is famous.
Engine: Twin-turbo 6.6-L V-12
Horsepower (hp): 563
Torque (lb-ft): 605
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.6 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph (electronically governed)
Base Price: $400,000
Though imposingly big, the Dawn is seductively sleek, its svelte lines inviting you — via power-assisted reverse-opening doors — into a cabin outfitted with luscious hides and expanses of hand-finished hardwood veneer. In classic Rolls-Royce fashion, the dash and console are refreshingly spare and restrained, a rare zone of tranquility in an age of digital distractions. At the press of a button, even the navigation screen disappears behind a book-matched cut of Tudor oak — or teak, rosewood or any other one of a forest of exotic alternatives.
For those who prefer a darker shade of daybreak, Rolls-Royce recently unveiled the Dawn Black Badge, distinguished by blackened chrome, a darker, more menacing interior bedecked in a stealth-fighter-like composite of aircraft-grade aluminum thread and carbon fibre, and an optional exterior paint that the automaker calls “the deepest, darkest and most intense black to ever grace a production car surface.”
The twin-turbo 6.6-litre V-12 idles with a low whisper that belies its output: 563 brake horsepower and 605 lb-ft of torque, the latter fully accessible from a mere 1,600 rpm. Under hard acceleration, the torque unspools in a seamless rush that Rolls-Royce aptly describes as the impression of “one infinite gear.” The Dawn’s handling is just as superb, utterly adroit in every eventuality in spite of its 2.5-ton weight.
In the twists and turns, the Dawn is always, uncannily, in precisely the right gear — silkily downshifting on the entry for greater control, and just as silkily upshifting as the asphalt straightens on the exit, as if it somehow sees the road ahead. In fact, it can, thanks to Satellite Aided Transmission, an innovative drivetrain technology that made its production car debut in the Dawn’s stablemate, the Rolls-Royce Wraith.
Top down, cruising the coast at highway speed, there’s barely a hint of the wind whipping by. Just the sun and the sky up above, the engine’s endless thrust, and a waking dream that goes on and on, mile after delectable mile.
photos courtesy of Rolls-Royce