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Frankfurt show: New Dawn for Rolls-Royce

Hermes scarf optional: The drop-top Rolls-Royce Dawn is based on the Wraith, but uses the V12 engine from the Ghost.

Rolls-Royce reaches back to the 1950s to name its new four-seater soft-top


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9 Sep 2015

ROLLS-ROYCE is set to target a younger, more socially connected clientele with its new four-seater drop-top dubbed the Dawn, which is named after a limited run of 28 Silver Dawn dropheads built by the company in 1952.

While the Dawn will be on display at the Frankfurt show, the car’s ‘launch’ is being held this week, with a large emphasis on social media and without the usual journalist drive component.

In terms of its Australian timing, the Dawn will have a local launch in November, with customer deliveries kicking off in the second quarter of next year. Pricing will be confirmed at a later date.

While its underpinnings are shared with the Wraith coupe – the fastest and most powerful car Rolls-Royce has ever made – the Dawn has been given a bespoke body treatment as befitting a car that will likely cost more than the $645,000 (driveaway) asking price of the related Wraith coupe. Eighty per cent of its body panels are unique to the Dawn.

Its 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 engine is more closely aligned with the Ghost than the performance-orientated Wraith, and will produce 420kW and 780Nm of torque.

The Dawn will do the dash to 100km/h – if one so desires – in 4.9 seconds, before topping out at an electronically limited 250km/h. Claimed fuel consumption is 14.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

The roof mechanism – christened the ‘silent ballet’ by Rolls-Royce engineers – can be operated at speeds of up to 50km/h, and takes 22 seconds to raise or lower. Thanks to a smoothed top surface, Rolls-Royce claims that the Dawn is as quiet as the Wraith.

It also claims that the Dawn is the brand’s “most powerful full four-seat drophead motor car to date,” and takes a thinly veiled swipe at its competitors (including Bentley and Mercedes-Benz) in the space, claiming the Dawn is “lighter and more fuel-efficient than the majority of compromised 2+2 convertibles in the market.”

Despite the lack of a roof, Rolls has kept the rearward-hinged coach door design for the Dawn. Four individual bucket seats are surround by 16 custom speakers, while the Wraith-spec dash has been refinished.

A highly featured infotainment system is operated by something Rolls calls its Spirit of Ecstasy controller, which can recognise hand gestures in Latin, Mandarin and Arabic, as well as English.

Chassis-wise, the Dawn receives a revised air suspension system and additional reinforcements to eliminate scuttle shake. Compared with the Wraith, Rolls has lowered the Dawn’s centre of gravity and reduced the amount of aerodynamic lift over the front end of the car, as well as redesigning the air springs and active anti-roll bars to suit.

The Dawn also uses the Wraith’s GPS-optimised eight-speed ZF transmission, which reads the terrain ahead and adjusts the shift map to suit. A smart cruise control system uses cameras to allow the Dawn to move with traffic without throttle or brake input from the driver, while a revised throttle map has sharpened medium throttle response by a claimed 30 per cent.

Safety-wise, a roll-over protection system behind the rear seat rests and around the windscreen will deploy in the event of a crash.

The Dawn measures 5285mm long and 1947mm wide and stands 1502mm high.

Rolls-Royce claims the Dawn weighs 2560kg. It rides on 20-inch rims as standard.

Rolls-Royce has sold 21 cars in Australia so far in 2015, against 28 for the same time last year. It sold 4063 cars worldwide in 2014, with more than half of those selling into China.

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