Used 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn Review
Those looking for the luxury and presence of a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe but with more power would do well with the Dawn.
If you are the sort of person who loads your vehicle onto your private cargo jet for a fun weekend along the French Riviera or just to visit your banker in Grand Cayman, chances are you want to do it in style. We can't think of a better way than in the resplendent luxury of the exceptional 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn.
Although Rolls-Royce is quick to point out that 80 percent of the Dawn's body panels are unique, for all intents and purposes the Dawn is a convertible version of the Wraith coupe (which is itself a two-door version of the Ghost). There are differences, of course. The Dawn's headlights are of a different design, for instance, and the front bumper has extra horizontal breaks to make it appear slightly smaller than its sibling. With its fabric roof deployed, Rolls-Royce claims that the Dawn is as quiet as the Wraith. If true, that would make it one of the quietest convertibles we've ever driven.
Under its hood beats the same twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 as the Wraith and Ghost. Power output matches the Ghost's 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque rather than the Wraith's 624 hp and 590 lb-ft. The Dawn also borrows the satellite-aided, eight-speed automatic transmission. Using GPS data, it selects the most appropriate gear for existing and expected road and traffic conditions. As with many Rolls-Royces, there are details that have yet to be dreamed of in other vehicles. The wood veneers that constitute the perimeter of the cabin and cover the center console are flawlessly book-matched, so the design is perfectly mirrored down the middle. The umbrellas located in the rear-hinged doors are customizable down to the handle type and bead color.
There are few true rivals to the four-passenger Dawn super-convertible. The most obvious is Rolls' own Phantom Drophead Coupe, which is larger and somehow has an even more spectacular cabin, although it is considerably less powerful. Other four-seat luxury convertibles, including the Bentley Continental GTC and Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet, undercut the Dawn by a significant amount but are less prestigious. If you're looking to take in the glittering Mediterranean with three friends, the Dawn is peerless.
trim levels & features
Standard features highlights for the 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn include 20-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive LED headlights, a self-adjusting air suspension, keyless ignition and entry, power-closing rear-hinged "coach" doors, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic wipers, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control with upcoming curve detection, leather upholstery and trim, wood accents, eight-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and four-way power lumbar adjustment, and driver-seat memory settings.
Also standard are a surround-view camera system, four-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, a 10.3-inch center display screen, a navigation system, voice controls, concierge services and an 18-speaker sound system with a CD/DVD player, satellite and HD radio, digital music storage, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.
There are two optional equipment groups for the Dawn: Driver's Assistance Systems One and Three. Driver's Assistance System One includes a lane departure warning system, automatic high-beam control, and a head-up display with vehicle speed and navigation instructions. To this, the Driver's Assistance Systems Three adds an infrared night-vision display and adaptive cruise control.
Many items within the Dawn's grouped packages are available as stand-alone options. Other individual options include ventilated and/or massaging front seats, hands-free trunk opening and closing, and a plethora of interior personalization options for trim, doorsills, stitching, surface materials and inlays. Exterior option highlights include two-tone paint schemes, paint-matched center caps for the wheels, and a gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament that may be bottom lit or illuminated from within if a polycarbonate figurine is selected.
Naturally, if anything else can be imagined, Rolls-Royce will likely fulfill a buyer's request, for a price.
performance & mpg
The rear-wheel-drive Rolls-Royce Dawn is propelled by a turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 engine that produces 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. It is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Rolls-Royce estimates that the Dawn will sprint from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, a very impressive result considering the car weighs more than 2.5 tons.
The 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn comes with top-, side- and rearview cameras, stability and traction control, antilock brakes, active front head restraints, front-seat knee and side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags.
The Driver's Assistance Systems One package includes lane departure warning, automatic high beams and a head-up display. The Driver's Assistance Systems Three package further adds a night-vision camera (with pedestrian and animal detection and color-coded warning) and adaptive cruise control (with stop-and-go capability).
We haven't driven a Dawn yet, but we don't expect it to be much different from its fixed-roof cousin, the Wraith. That car combines an endlessly powerful V12 with a ride so sublime that anything else feels like a Lotus Elise traversing a dry creek bed. The Wraith makes even your Bentley-owning friends marvel at the pin-drop quiet inside the cabin. The only thing you'll hear is the omnipresent 18-speaker Bespoke Audio system that massages your eardrums as Franz Liszt gently coaxes you onward.
The 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn is one of the most exquisitely detailed vehicles we've ever seen. The stunning wood trim that wraps around the entirety of the cabin (as well as the cover that hides the retracted soft top) is also used straight down the center, so the detailing in each half of the cabin is perfectly mirrored on the other side. The butter-soft leather seating surfaces and rich lambswool floormats are magnificent indulgences that are befitting a car of this price.
Because of the company's association with BMW, much of the infotainment and navigation electronics are derivative of the generally impressive and user-friendly iDrive interface. However, in the Dawn, the substantial glass central controller, fittingly adorned with a Spirit of Ecstasy inlay, effectively operates through a uniquely British interpretation of this now-familiar system including multilevel menus and a high-resolution display. Even the car's reminder chime has been replaced with the sound of a harp strum.
Compared to Rolls-Royce's sedan offerings, Dawn buyers are more likely to drive themselves than be chauffeured. Even so, Rolls designed its new convertible with rear occupants in mind, claiming that there's enough room to sit four adults comfortably. You might also appreciate the fact that the front seat belts are integrated directly into the seats themselves. Not only does this allow the leather and wood door trim to continue uninterrupted through the cabin, but rear passengers don't have to crawl under an impeding seat belt to exit the Dawn gracefully. A casualty of this passenger-centric design is trunk space, which has shrunk from 16.6 cubic feet in the Wraith to 10.4 cubic feet in the Dawn (or 8.8 cubes with the top lowered). Since you're driving them in style, your passengers will have to do you the favor of packing light.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.