Rolls-Royce Dawn convertible
“The Rolls-Royce Dawn is incomparable to any other convertible in its luxury and extravagance”
- Every Dawn is unique
- Supremely luxurious
- Effortlessly fast
- Small boot
- Hard to park
- High running costs
The Rolls-Royce Dawn is arguably the world’s ultimate four-seat convertible, with luxury, style and performance on a different level to most other models. Sadly, and predictably, this also means it’s one of the most expensive, with running costs to match. Still, this will be of little concern to the few who can afford one.
In reality, the car’s price is only a starting point for the final cost, because every Rolls-Royce is unique when it leaves the Goodwood factory. Almost every facet of the Dawn can be personalised with a seemingly endless palette of colours and materials, all meeting the most stringent quality standards.
With the roof up, four adults can sit in comfort, and the six layers of fabric making up the roof have been engineered to deliver refinement as close to the Rolls-Royce Wraith Coupe as possible.
Nestled under the vast bonnet is a 6.6-litre V12 with 563bhp and 820Nm of pulling power, which is enough to propel the Dawn from 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds, before reaching a restricted top speed of 155mph.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn sells in small numbers, so hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but does come with a full suite of airbags and electronic safety technology. BMW’s ownership of Rolls-Royce is reassuring here, with almost all of its recent models scoring five-stars for safety.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Built without considerations such as fuel economy, the Dawn doesn’t just cost more than the average house to buy, it’s also one of the least economical cars on sale. Gulping fuel at an average rate of 19.6mpg, your best chance of seeing a Dawn up close is probably at a petrol station. Needless to say, it costs the top £450 in annual road tax and sits in the highest 37% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band for company-car drivers - or company owners as is more likely the case here.
These costs could pale in comparison to maintenance and replacement parts, however. We wince at the thought of replacing all four tyres on those 21-inch wheels - or, perish the thought, curbing the alloy wheels themselves. Servicing and replacement parts are also likely to be very expensive.
Engines, drive & performance
While we can imagine a Dawn owner saying the Rolls has “just enough” power to get from A to B, this two-and-a-half tonne convertible can quietly dispatch most sports cars. Its 6.6-litre V12 isn’t tuned for outright power (but still makes 563bhp), because its headline figure is its 820Nm of torque, which is available from just 1,600rpm. The engine has been designed this way in order to make the Dawn feel as effortlessly fast as possible, with a tidal wave of acceleration instead of the crescendo you get in a supercar.
There are no driving modes here, just a ‘low’ setting for the smooth eight-speed gearbox, which keeps the revs higher for more spirited driving. Given the weight and size of the Dawn, its engineers have worked miracles with the suspension, which successfully keeps body lean under control in corners and provides the driver with keen steering.
Despite this, the Dawn is always comfortable, and is clearly designed to be enjoyed at a gentler pace, as indicated by a lack of paddle gear shifters behind the broad steering wheel and the very supple ride quality.
Interior & comfort
Given the size of the 21-inch tyres and the open top design, refinement is so good it’s uncanny, with occupants treated to near silence thanks to careful filtering out of road, wind and engine noise. Even under acceleration, the V12 is barely audible, as is the Rolls-Royce way.
Arrive at your destination, and you might not want to get out of the car. The hand-stitched leather is of the finest quality the metal and wood on show is the best you’ll see in a car. In the case of the Dawn’s wooden veneers, they’re even matched so the grain is symmetrical around the interior.
The infotainment system sits behind the dashboard trim when not in use, and is based on BMW technology, with Rolls-Royce providing its own version of the iDrive controller for quick operation from the centre console.
Practicality & boot space
Measuring almost 5.3-metres in length, the Dawn is one of the largest convertibles in production, and despite having a long enough bonnet to accommodate its huge engine, there’s still room inside for adults to sit in tandem. Front occupants are treated to abundant space, while rear passengers have adequate legroom and may be better off in this respect than in the Rolls-Royce Wraith Coupe, thanks to a higher roofline and the lack of rear window pillars.
Unfortunately some sacrifices have had to be made, and in the Dawn’s case, the main one is luggage space. There’s only 295-litres in the boot with the roof up, which is about the same as a Renault Clio, but with a less accessible opening. To make matters worse, this shrinks when the roof is down. Most if not all Dawn owners will have at least one other car in their garage, which means they can always send their luggage ahead anyway. It’s also worth noting that the Dawn’s dimensions - it’s longer than a Mercedes S-Class or Range Rover - can make it difficult to maneuver in tight streets or car parks.
Reliability & safety
The rarefied nature of the Dawn and the small number, which are handbuilt, means it has never been crash tested by Euro NCAP and doesn’t appear in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
Despite this, the fact its safety technology is largely adopted from parent company BMW, means the Dawn should be a very safe car. A roster of airbags and advanced safety electronics are included as standard, along with features like adaptive radar cruise control.
It’s a similar story with reliability, where the Dawn benefits from using a number of tried and tested parts, including its V12 engine. We haven’t heard of any significant issues, and you can expect any customer experiencing issues to be well looked after by Rolls-Royce.
Price, value for money & options
There are very few people able to spend more than £265,000 on a convertible, but those who can buy a Dawn spend an average of £60,000 on personalising the car and adding optional extras.
Almost everything can be customised, but some off-the-shelf options in the model configurator include a television tuner, a 16-speaker stereo system with ‘Studio’ and ‘Theatre’ settings, a head-up display, night vision, active cruise control, illuminated door sills and lambswool floormats with a leather insert beneath the pedals. Exterior options include a solid silver, illuminated or gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy mounted on the bonnet.