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Rolls-Royce enters new Dawn

Breaking Dawn: Rolls-Royce Dawn product manager Jonathan Shears with the new drop-top at the official Melbourne launch.

Drop-top Rolls-Royce Dawn arrives in Australia ahead of April 2016 deliveries

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Rolls-Royce logo26 Nov 2015

THE Rolls-Royce Dawn drop-top has touched down on Australian soil priced from $749,000 driveaway, representing a $104,000 premium over the hard-top Wraith coupe with which it shares much of its underpinnings.

While this makes it one of the most expensive convertibles available in Australia, it undercuts the likes of the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster that ranges from $761,500 to $916,150 plus on-roads, and its Phantom Drophead Coupe stablemate that costs $1,075,000 driveaway.

Other options for the well-heeled buyer looking for wind in their expensively-coiffed hair include the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet ($466,500), the Ferrari 488 Spider ($526,888) and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet, pricing of which is yet to be confirmed.

However, cashed-up Australian buyers may face a significant wait before getting behind the wheel of one of the world's most exclusive cars.

While production of demonstrator Dawns will start in February or March next year at the BMW-owned brand's Goodwood facility, full production versions won’t start rolling off the line until April.

According to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Asia Pacific regional director Paul Harris, there could, however, be more than a year's wait for some buyers, adding that the company is “beyond capacity in terms of an annual supply”.

“If you were to place an order now, I think the earliest production you are going to get is the very end of next year, if not the beginning of the year after,” he told GoAuto at the Melbourne launch of the Dawn.

The launch at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Buildings coincided with the official announcement of Zagame Automotive as the new Rolls-Royce dealer in Victoria, following the group's acquisition of the Trivett Classic outlet from Inchcape, as reported by GoAuto.

Mr Harris praised Zagame managing director and new Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Melbourne dealer principal Bobby Zagame, adding that he was “respected and admired by many clients”, and describing him as the “ideal Rolls-Royce business partner”.

While the current Southbank location will continue to be the home to Rolls-Royce Melbourne for the time being, Mr Harris said the car-maker is in negotiations with Mr Zagame to find a new location, possibly close to other Zagame showrooms.

“At the moment we are looking at the Richmond area for him in a facility that is much more focussed on the customer from the point of view of selling and service under the one roof, because it makes more sense to do that.”

A company executive told GoAuto that about 70 per cent of serious potential customers for the Dawn are new to the Rolls-Royce brand. Sixty per cent of Wraith buyers have come from other brands, according to the executive.

Rolls-Royce Dawn product manager Jonathan Shears told GoAuto that the response to the convertible in Australia had been encouraging, and added that it is bringing a new type of buyer to the brand.

“The reactions we have been having at customer events has been really strong and it is very much people who have maybe found Rolls-Royce not so approachable,” he said at the launch event. “This car kind of washes away that formality. Customers say 'I can see myself driving this'. Customers' children say 'I can see myself driving this'.

“Wraith introduced a whole new group of customers that were drawn in by the design and the styling and then discovered Rolls-Royce and all of the virtues that that brings, and I think Dawn is going to do an element of that. It’s a great addition to the family.”

Mr Shears said while demand for Dawn is strong, it will likely be an additional car for a lot of owners.

“I think with cars like this, as a rule they are going to be an addition to a garage. And we see our customers building portfolios of cars, stables of vehicles for every usage,” he said.

“Demand is already as strong on this as it was on Wraith. We have met Wraith customers, Ghost customers, Phantom customers who want to add this car to their collection, and they will use different cars for different things.”

The Dawn was revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in September after a lengthy teaser campaign, and the company is at pains to distance it from its Wraith and Ghost stablemates, pointing out that it features 80 per cent unique body panels.

The 2+2 seater is, according to Rolls, “the quietest open-top car every made”, and the fabric roof, which features a French seam, can be lowered or closed in about 22 seconds at speeds of up to 50km/h.

Under the long chunky bonnet is a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 petrol engine – that is more closely aligned with the unit that powers the Ghost four-door sedan than the one in the more performance-oriented Wraith – delivering 420kW at 5250rpm and 780Nm at 1500rpm and matched with an eight-speed ZF satellite-aided transmission.

It is enough to push the 5285mm-long, 2560kg Dawn from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds and onto an electronically governed top speed of 250km/h. Fuel consumption is rated at 14.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle and the Dawn emits 330g/km of CO2.

The Dawn features a bespoke 16-speaker audio system that, according to Rolls, “is the most exhaustively designed automotive hi-fi system ever developed,” providing acoustic balance performance whether the roof is open or closed.

Rolls engineers focussed on ensuring maximum torsional rigidity, while a newly designed suspension set-up ensures the company's famous 'magic carpet' ride is present.

It rides on 20-inch 10-spoke wheels with run-flat tyres – 21-inch hoops are optional – while inside, the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller allows access to media and infotainment, and can be used as a touch pad for users to write letters with their fingers as well as pull and pinch motions.

A 10.25-inch high-definition screen shows navigation and other multimedia functions, while the Dawn also has adaptive cruise control and a concealed roll-over protection system hidden behind the rear head restraints that deploys in a fraction of a second if required.

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