2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Convertible Review

author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

Rolls-Royce automobiles are known for the way they seclude occupants from the hardships of the roadway. Quiet, effortless and serene, driving a Rolls-Royce is more Bodleian Oxford Library than Wall Street trading floor. The 2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn is no different, but it adds the ability to open its fabric top, allowing driver and passenger alike to bask in the sun, or moonlight, and watch the scenery smoothly whiz by.

You would be mistaken to think the Dawn is just the convertible version of the hardtop two-door Wraith. Although they have similar powertrains, the Wraith has more power (624 horsepower versus 563 hp) and Rolls-Royce says 80 percent of the body is different. Thankfully, Rolls-Royce spent a lot of time and effort to get the undeniable differentiator, the convertible fabric roof, just right. With the roof taking 22 seconds to open or close at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour, Rolls-Royce calls the process a "silent ballet" due to the lack of noise during operation.



what's new

The "Inspired by Fashion" configurations available for part of the 2017 model year feature three distinct exterior color and trim piece schemes.

we recommend

With just one Dawn version to pick from, the only recommendation we could make would involve specific builds. If you're a responsible type who can handle white leather interiors, we recommend one of the new for 2017 Inspired by Fashion configurations. Cobalto Blue, Mandarin and Mugello Red on the seamless fabric top and interior leather combine with white and black leather and piano white lacquered pieces. The piano white pieces take nine days to lacquer, and they are embedded with aluminum particles, giving the pieces a silky effect. Of course, there's also real silk inside the door pockets.

trim levels & features

The Dawn may come in one mechanical specification, which is a two-door, four-seater powered by a turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 engine (563 horsepower, 575 pound-feet of torque) driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. But the owner gets to pick how the rest of the car is built. Thankfully Rolls-Royce made sure the Dawn includes all the technology and customization options that luxury car owners expect. This includes a 16-speaker Bespoke Audio system, a 10.3-inch navigation display based on BMW's familiar iDrive system, and adaptive cruise control. This system was chosen specifically for its ability to provide a button-free aesthetic thanks to voice command and a multitouch compatible pad atop the "Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller" (yes, that's what it's called) that recognizes touch and handwriting inputs. The Dawn lacks touchscreen capability due to the obvious unwanted side effect of fingerprints on the screen. All the better, so you can have more square footage of natural or lacquered-finish wood paneling. Adaptive LED headlights light up the way, and radar cruise control aims to take the edge off of bumper-to-bumper seaside traffic. When you get out on the open road, a clever GPS-based system can fine-tune the engine and transmission for ultimate smoothness by knowing the grade and radius of the road ahead. Finally, the doors hinge from the back, and as is typical with Rolls-Royce, an umbrella is stored in the forward doorjamb in its own vented compartment.

trim tested

Edmunds has not yet driven any version of this vehicle. The following is our first take on what's significant about it and what you can expect.

driving

Rolls-Royce prides itself on creating the smoothest driving experience, and we have no reason to doubt the Dawn will be any different. Don't think of it as a sports car, rather an incredibly smooth and comfortable cruiser.

comfort

Aside from simply being a Rolls-Royce, the Dawn's chief selling point is as a convertible four-seater. Rolls-Royce made sure that four adults could fit in complete comfort, and that the top opens and closes in complete silence.

interior

With about as much leather and wood as a luxury steamship, the Dawn's interior is inviting, warm and comfortable. It's not a jetplane cockpit-like experience, but more a tea room or cigar lounge. Large reverse-hinged doors making entry and exit an event.

utility

Trunk space is deep and perfect for two people's luggage, but unless you travel with light packers, fitting four people's worth of stuff might be tough. You won't have to worry about bringing an umbrella — it's included. Silk-lined door pockets are perfect for holding delicate items.

technology

Though you can't touch the screen on the Dawn, the touch surface on top of the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller features handwriting recognition. Otherwise, luxury-car staples such as night vision and adaptive cruise control are standard.

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.