2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn: Don’t Dare Call It a Convertible
There’s no other automaker in the world quite like Rolls-Royce, and when it gets around to releasing a new model, it does it in a way that no competitor, or really, any other company in the world could ever hope to get away with. Case in point: This week, England’s BMW-owned finest unveiled the Dawn, a drophead – Rolls doesn’t simply do “convertibles” – based on its Wraith coupe. But this isn’t some half-assed version of the coupe with its roof chopped off. No, this is the Dawn, a unique model deserving of its own nameplate, and as such deserves a little fanfare to break the ice. According company CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes:
Quite simply, it is the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built.
The name ‘Dawn’ perfectly suggests the fresh opportunities that every new day holds – an awakening, an opening up of one’s senses and a burst of sunshine. In its tentative, inchoate, anticipatory state, dawn is the world coming to light from the ethereal dark of the night. The early-day chill of dawn provides an erotic tingle on the skin, awakening the senses and passions as the day begins.
So if you’re in the market for a luxury car that offers the same effortless blend of luxury, exclusivity, and power as the Wraith, but also want something that provides that extra, um, “erotic tingle,” fear not: You no longer have to settle for that Buick Cascada. The Dawn is the car for you.
If you have a hard time spotting the differences between the Wraith and the Dawn, you’re not alone. Rolls is quick to point out that 80% of the Dawn’s bodywork is unique, but the devil truly is in the details. The company says “the grille is recessed by approximately 45mm whilst the lower front bumper has been extended 53mm compared to Wraith.” A higher beltline, windshield set at a steeper rake, and wheelbase that’s 180 millimeters shorter also set the car apart from its hardtop sibling.
Under the unique bodywork, the Dawn is built on the same platform as the Wraith and Ghost sedan, which in itself is derived from the BMW 7 Series. The drophead gets its 6.6 liter V12 from the sedan, which makes 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. In all, that should be enough to keep the 5,644 pound car’s zero-to-60 time at under five seconds. The only available transmission is a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic, which in true Rolls fashion is geared to make shifting nearly imperceptible.
And speaking of imperceptible, the Dawn eschews the retractible hardtops of lesser range-topping droptops for a six-ply canvas top, because according to Rolls: “There is nothing more romantic than driving a convertible in the rain at night and hearing the drops pattering on the roof.” The result is an elegant roof line with no visible seams that creates no wind noise, and retracts in 22 seconds behind a horseshoe-shaped Canadel wood panel in what the company dubbed the “Silent Ballet.”
Inside will be familiar to any of the blue-bloods, sheiks, or corporate raiders that have spent time inside a Wraith or Ghost. The familiar suicide doors of the coupe carry over to the drophead, as does the surprising amount of rear legroom despite a tight-looking 2+2 profile. Other goodies that only Rolls-Royce could come up with include a satellite-aided transmission that used GPS to adjust to road conditions, and tellingly, an infotainment system’s rotary touchpad sports a writing feature that allows the car to read Mandarin and Arabic, a nod to Rolls’ fastest-growing markets.
Taken as a whole, Rolls says that the Dawn “is a contemporary take on the ‘Casino’ lifestyle.” We didn’t know there was a casino lifestyle, but if you happen to live it, then this is the car for you. The introduction of the Dawn – like any Rolls-Royce rollout – has been a bombastic, ostentatious, and completely unrealistic spectacle that’s impossible for over 99% of human beings on this planet to relate to. But that’s always been the allure of Rolls-Royce. No one, not even the most over-the-top supercar builders could get away with copy like this, but Rolls still refers to its products as “Motorcars,” and the incredible, unattainable luxury of its cars is the stuff that dreams are made of for over a century. As long as Rolls-Royce keeps building dream machines like the Dawn, it can say whatever it wants.
Follow Derek on Twitter @CS_DerekS
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