Rolls-Royce Dawn revealed: new droptop Rolls in pictures and on video

Published: 09 September 2015

► Rolls-Royce Dawn revealed
► Wraith-based four-seater soft-top
► First official pictures and video

Could this be the most glamorous convertible you’ll see this year? This is the Rolls-Royce Dawn, revealed in full for the first time this afternoon.

Ah, yes. This is the drophead version of the Wraith isn’t it?

Shh. Don’t let Rolls-Royce hear you say that. The Goodwood firm insists the Dawn is emphatically not a convertible version of the Wraith coupe, pointing out that 80% of the exterior body panels are new and that it should be considered a separate model line in its own right. But you won’t need to dig too far beneath the surface to find that much of the car’s underlying roots are shared with the Wraith – not a bad thing, by any means.

The Dawn gets its own suspension configuration, with new air springs and active roll bars and promises to offer the Rolls’ famed ‘magic carpet’ ride, even though it sits on 20in run-flats. What’s more, Rolls-Royce claims the Dawn is the most torsionally rigid four-seater convertible available today.

What’s powering the Rolls-Royce Dawn?

Same twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 as the Wraith, a behemoth of an engine that in the Dawn churns out 563bhp and 575lb ft of torque. So the Dawn won’t be slow, despite weighing more than 2.5 tonnes. It’s coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s GPS aided – in other words, the car’s satellite navigation system can prioritise lower or higher gears if particularly twisty or hilly terrain lies ahead.

How come it’s a fabric roof, not a metal one?

Partly because it’s so big – at more than 5.2m long, the Dawn is a very long car – and partly for reasons of refinement. Rolls-Royce boldly claims that the Dawn is the quietest open-top car ever made, with no more cabin noise than a Wraith when the roof’s up (see picture below).

Roof up: the Rolls-Royce Dawn

What’s more, in the company’s own words, ‘the only choice for a Rolls-Royce was a fabric roof for reasons of aesthetics, romance and brand appropriateness. There is nothing more romantic than driving a convertible in the rain at night and hearing the drops pattering on the roof.’ Erm, quite.

The Dawn’s electrically operated soft-top takes 22 seconds to raise and retract, while the car is travelling at up to 32mph.

Remind me why Rolls has called its new car Dawn?

It’s an oldie from the Rolls-Royce back catalogue, first appearing on the Silver Dawn, a glamorous drophead produced in tiny numbers in the early 1950s.

Is it a proper four-seater?

According to Rolls-Royce, very much so. Unlike most 2+2 convertibles where you could perhaps squeeze two small children in the back if you don’t mind driving with your knees around your shoulders, the Dawn claims to be a true four-seater with enough leg room for a full quota of adult occupants.

‘The idea of creating a car like Dawn that can be used in comfort by only two adults on a day to day basis is anathema,’ says Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor. ‘In creating Dawn we have accepted no compromise to the comfort and luxury of four adults who want to travel together.’

Rolls-Royce is in bolshy mood at the car’s unveil; the company describes the Dawn as ‘quite simply, the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built.’ Seems the brand’s clientele agree. According to CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös, ‘we already have quite a nice order book on our hands’ – despite an asking price expected to exceed £250,000.

Click on the video below to view today’s Rolls-Royce Dawn presentation.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer