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Driven: Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.

Driven: Rolls-Royce Dawn
Youíll have to convince yourself that the Dawn is somehow inferior to the more modern Rollers, because itís remarkable.


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Rolls-Royce Dawn

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: no other four-seat soft-top comes close to the Dawn's sense of occasion and reward

Not so good: no other four-seat soft-top comes close to the Dawn's price tag and size

Key Facts

Model tested: Rolls-Royce Dawn
Price: Dawn from £227,700 (excluding local taxes); car as tested £292,850 (excluding local taxes - approx. £351,420)
Engine: 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door hyper-luxury four-seat convertible
CO2 emissions: 326g/km (VED Band Over 255: £2,135 in year one, then £465 years per annum years two to six of ownership, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 19.8mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Power: 571hp at 5,250rpm
Torque: 820Nm at 1,600rpm
Boot space: 295 litres

Our view:

The 'Architecture of Luxury'. Three words which sound reasonably simple, but which somehow manage to immediately date the Rolls-Royce Dawn and its tin-topped relation, the Wraith, because it's the AoL which underpins the Phantom VIII and Cullinan products which have superseded the BMW-derived Dawn, Wraith and Ghost models.

Thing is, you kind of have to work very hard to attempt to convince yourself that the Dawn, which only launched in 2016, is somehow a step down from a Phantom. There's a hierarchy at Rolls-Royce, as there is at every other car manufacturer of course, but when you think about it the Dawn and the Wraith are - ostensibly - the most grandiose motor cars the brand makes, because they're a convertible and a coupe, compared to saloons (Phantom, Ghost) and an SUV (Cullinan). And certainly, when you experience the Dawn's exceptional blend of attributes, you'll not fail to be utterly seduced by it.

Trying to judge the thing even vaguely rationally, it's enormous in size, it costs £350,000 in a customised spec (something all owners will do), it doesn't handle particularly sharply and you'll find it odd having to keep going to almost the base of the windscreen just to get into the car - this is because the Dawn, like the Wraith, features coach doors which are hinged at the rear, not the front.

But, as you can probably tell from this list of observations, we're looking for tiny flaws in what is otherwise clearly a diamond of a car. The size and the cost do not matter: this is the automotive equivalent of a house in Sandbanks - the latter keeps the rain off you and is somewhere to sleep, but you'll pay a heck of a lot more for it than you would for a semi-detached in Rochdale for the most obvious of obvious reasons. The handling is also not a concern, because the Roller is. . . well, a roller; it's supposed to be supremely comfortable and refined, wafting you through the day in ultimate luxury and relaxation, not something you hurl around the corners at Cadwell Park. And you get used to those doors. Well, we assume you do; we were on the verge of handing the Dawn back to Rolls-Royce after a few days of being its custodians and we were still standing next to the back of the door like puddings, wondering where the handle had gone.

Otherwise, the Dawn is as majestic on every front as you would imagine and it's many, many, many cuts above anything even remotely comparable i.e., fitted with four seats and a folding fabric roof. The drivetrain is silky beyond compare, whisking you hither and thither without any shunting or histrionics. It'll also move the 2,560kg mass of the Dawn with serious alacrity if you need it to, the noise when it's working hard(er) as decently sporty as Rolls-Royce's decorum will allow, and yet it can return up to 18.6mpg when you're on a country A-road. . . don't scoff, that's not bad for a massive car with a petrol V12 that's designed for the super-rich! And the ride is what you've always heard about Rolls-Royces of the past: magic-carpet smooth, or - if you prefer a slightly less cliched analogy - sailing around serenely like a proper land-yacht (and we mean that in the nicest possible way). Pop the roof up and it's as quiet within as any fixed-roof Roller, which is a quite extraordinary achievement for a convertible.

To drive the Dawn, with its hood up or down, is a thoroughly special experience. Every journey, every mile is a moment to be savoured. At some point in the future, it - and the other two models not on the AoL chassis - will migrate over to the spaceframe platform and that will only make the very best even better. Until then, this Rolls-Royce Dawn is the undisputed premier open-top vehicle in the world. It really is that simple.


Bentley Continental GTC: we'll be driving the new drop-top Conti GTC soon, but safe to say - as wonderful as the Bentley coupe is and the convertible will undoubtedly be, it won't be quite as majestic as the Dawn.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet: not often you can call the S-Class the 'bargain' alternative, but a nice S 560 will waft (sort of) like the Dawn and cost about a third as much. Is it as special as the Roller? No. No, it isn't.

Rolls-Royce Wraith: about your only real alternative to the Dawn is picking the same car but with a fixed roof. Not only that, but the Wraith is a bit more powerful, too. If that kind of thing floats your Rolls-Royce boat.

Matt Robinson - 7 Mar 2019    - Rolls-Royce road tests
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- Dawn images

2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.

2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn. Image by Rolls-Royce UK.


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