The Dawn’s bodywork is 80% new compared with the Wraith on which it is based. Rolls says the cabin has room for four adults to sit in comfort. The only carryover exterior parts from the Wraith are the doors and the grille surround.
Rolls says it has worked hard to ensure that the Dawn is as smooth and quiet as other Rolls-Royce models despite the absence of a fixed roof, delivering on the firm’s famed ‘magic carpet’ ride.
The firm says the Dawn is as quiet as the Wraith with the roof up, and as such is the quietest convertible on the market. The roof retracts in 21 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph.
The company’s design chief, Giles Taylor, set out to create a car that was as beautiful with the roof up as it was down, with the intention of producing “two cars in one”. The firm looked to the 1952 Silver Dawn Drophead, the last coachbuilt Rolls, for inspiration.
Rolls claims the Dawn is the most rigid-bodied four-seat convertible on the market, something in part achieved by a new suspension system with new air springs and revised anti-roll bars. Rolls is also talking up the agility of the Dawn thanks to this suspension system. The rear track is 24mm wider than that of the Ghost.
Powering the Dawn is the same twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 used by the Ghost. The engine produces 563bhp at 5250rpm and 575lb ft at 1500rpm and drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which links with the sat-nav to automatically pre-select the next appropriate gear. The Dawn can get from 0-62mph in 4.9sec and reach a limited 155mph. Combined fuel economy is 19.9mpg and CO2 emissions are 330g/km.
The Dawn is 5285mm long, 1947mm wide, 1502mm high and has a wheelbase of 3112mm, dimensions broadly in line with those of the Wraith. It weighs 2560kg, some 200kg more than the Wraith. It is set to go on sale early next year, priced at about £250,000.
Q&A with Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce Design Director
Is this a Rolls to drive or be driven in?
“To drive. It’s modern, has cool values and a real sexiness. It’s a seminal moment for us, putting a car to the world that celebrates La Dolce Vita.”
Has the Wraith attracted new customers?
“Yes. People are taking it seriously as a young person’s car. The average buyer age has come down to 45. People no longer see us as stiff and formal. I have no sense of restraint in trying to keep the brand as a certain something; I’m curating it to the buyers and responding to the market.”
Will this less formal look be reflected across the range?
“The Phantom has to have gravitas. But the greater flow of this design, the more relaxed look is something we’ll look to do more of. The new front end is a contemporary expression of a Rolls-Royce. We’re lowering the formality.”