Rolls-Royce Pulls Cover Off Dawn Drophead

The hand-built car will cost $325,000, a conservative estimate from the company since most customers will add thousands of dollars of bespoke options.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

September 8, 2015

4 Min Read
Rolls Royce Dawn Drophead Coupe will make public debut at Frankfurt auto show
Rolls Royce Dawn Drophead Coupe will make public debut at Frankfurt auto show.

Rolls-Royce unveils the Dawn, an all-new 4-passenger drophead coupe the BMW super-luxury subsidiary hopes will attract a younger, more social customer to the 109-year-old British brand.

“We believe it is quite simply the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever made,” CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos  says in a global webcast revealing the car ahead of its launch at next week’s Frankfurt auto show.

Production of the Dawn at Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood, U.K, assembly plant will begin early next year. The hand-built car will cost $325,000, a conservative estimate from the company since most customers will add thousands of dollars of bespoke options. It slots below the $475,000 Phantom Drophead Coupe in the Rolls-Royce lineup and north of the $290,000 Wraith Coupe.

Deliveries of the Wraith began in fourth-quarter 2013. It matched the Bentley Continental in a race by the two brands to offer a more accessibly priced super-luxury car. The Dawn shares the Wraith’s platform, an extensively re-engineered BMW 7-Series architecture using the German automaker’s 563-hp 6.6L twin-turbo V-12. Top speed is 150 mph (240 km/h) and the 5,644-lb. (2,560-kg) car goes 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.9 seconds with combined-cycle fuel economy of 19 mpg (12.4 L/100 km).

But it is more than a Wraith convertible, Rolls-Royce engineering chief Philip Koehn contends.

The Dawn, for example, boasts 18 unique body panels, an exclusive suspension and all-new tires.

“It is not a Wraith convertible,” he says. “It is a car that has a character of its own.”

That includes a fabric convertible roof that folds in 22 seconds and at speeds up to 31 mph (50 km/h). It also will be the industry’s quietest during top-up motoring, Koehn promises.

“When you get in the car, all you can hear is the sound of silence,” he says.

The Dawn harkens back to the line of Silent Dawn Drophead Coupes of 1950s and its lineage is unmistakable. Dressed in Midnight Sapphire, it boasts the traditional long hood and short front overhang of all Rolls-Royce cars. Its shoulders are high, the windshield is raked and a sweeping shoulder line rides over the rear wheels to convey sensuality, or what the automaker calls “the hips of Dawn.” Doors are hinged at the rear.

Rolls-Royce design chief Giles Taylor says the goal was to design a car that looks “superb” with the top up or down, although an emphasis was placed on the latter for obvious reasons.

“You feel like a star and look like a star,” he says.

However, unlike other Rolls-Royce offerings, the grille of the Dawn is slightly recessed and horizontal lines take precedence whereas the brand typically emphasizes vertical lines. The Spirit of Ecstasy sits atop the bonnet and her wing styling suggests the vapor of a jet, which hints to the car’s dynamism.

Giles says there is a “crisp, modern edge” to the exterior that should appeal to “contemporary customers” of the brand.

Open-pore Canadel paneling covers the rear deck and folded top, and the wood “waterfalls” between the rear seats where passengers do not simply step out from the vehicle but rather stand to exit as if disembarking from a watercraft. Hand-stitched Mandarin leather covers surface areas of the interior, where designers sought to create a “social space” for its occupants.

Rolls-Royce hopes the Dawn will attract new customers to the brand, which has been threatened by less expensive offerings from rival Bentley, as well as automakers such as Mercedes pushing up into super-luxury territory.

Although China will be a key market for the Dawn, Muller-Otvos acknowledges the country has seen some weakness lately in the luxury segment.

“It is important to be globally focused,” he says. “But, of course, China is important. The U.S. has been our largest market for years and will continue to be No.1.”

Rolls Royce sold 4,063 vehicles last year and the U.S. accounted for 30% of those deliveries.

Fintan Knight, who heads marketing for Rolls-Royce, says the order book for the Dawn is strong, due partly to a sneak peek the automaker offered ultra-high net-worth individuals at its Summer Studio in Sardinia, Italy.

The Dawn will make it first public appearance at next week’s Frankfurt auto show.

[email protected]

About the Author(s)

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like