2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Drophead Coupe Test Drive

Jerry Reynolds | September 19, 2017
2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Drophead Coupe Test Drive

This week I bring you the amazing 2017 Dawn Drophead coupe.  FYI, Drophead is the British word for convertible.  The Dawn debuted in 2016 and is manufactured by Rolls-Royce’s parent company, BMW.  The Dawn is the only convertible in the Rolls lineup since the Phantom Drophead coupe was eliminated shortly after we reviewed it last year.

It is important to note that every Rolls-Royce is handmade, there is no assembly line, and it takes a minimum of two months to assemble one in Great Britain. There are no two alike, especially when you consider there are 44,000 different exterior and interior colors choices available.


Let’s start under the very long hood where you find a 6.6-liter 12-cylinder twin-turbo engine putting out 563-horses.  It comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission.  Top speed is limited to 155 miles per hour.

Looking at the exterior, the Dawn has distinctive lines, is long in the front and short in the back and has the unmistakable Rolls-Royce grill.  This vehicle has 10-spoke, 21’’ wheels.   As you walk around this car, you see the familiar RR emblems on the grill, on the front fenders, and on the rear, where you’ll find dual exhaust.  The Dawn is a foot shorter than the Phantom convertible it replaced.     

Just a side note on the wheels, the $1050 body-colored Rolls-Royce wheel center caps remain stationary even when moving and when you stop, they line themselves up perfectly so they are always straight and readable.

The cloth convertible top has six layers for extreme cabin quietness.  It will silently lower itself in 20 seconds, and you can raise or lower the top up to speeds of 31-miles per hour.

Take a look at the pinstripe that runs down the side of the car.  This was hand-painted at the factory and the craftsman who did the painting did not use a template of any kind, it was all done freehand.

I have to tell you about the deployable Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament. You can raise it or lower it for going through car washes, and it lowers when you turn the car off.  You can get a lit crystal version for only $4125.   

True Rolls-Royce enthusiasts will tell you that it is the interior of these cars that they love the most, and this car is no exception.  Open the rear-hinged power-closing doors and you’ll find the most distinctive interior you’ll ever see.  Elegant, yet at the same time, not overcomplicated. 

Open the rear-hinged power-closing doors and you’ll find the most distinctive interior you’ll ever see.  

While you have those huge doors open, push a button and pull out one of two built-in umbrellas, just in case it rains.  FYI, the Dawn pumps warm air into the umbrella wells to make sure no mold develops on your umbrellas.

Since the door is so long, many people cannot reach it, so Rolls gave us all a button to close the doors automatically.  You can close either door from the driver’s seat.

Once seated behind the huge leather steering wheel with controls, you see a big simple dashboard.  A large speedometer sits right in the middle, fuel and temp gauges to the right, and a gauge on the left to show the power reserve instead of a tachometer.

In the center of the console is the Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary controller.  This operates the 10.3.” screen and let’s you dial through settings for the radio, multimedia, phone, navigation, vehicle info, settings, office, and apps.  You can scribe on top of the controller to enter information to the navigation system, for instance. 

The Dawn does not offer Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay or Android auto, but it does have Bluetooth for your phone, and it has voice recognition.   All functions are operated from the controller; there is no touchscreen option to avoid fingerprints on the screen.  The Rolls-Royce analog timepiece sits to the right of the screen.

I want to call your attention to the massive amount of wood that completely surrounds the cabin.  My test vehicle features all Canadel wood and it all comes from the same log for consistency.  The Canadel wood package comes at a cost of $21,275.

Attention to detail is what a Rolls-Royce is all about. All interior wood runs the same direction.

Attention to detail is what a Rolls-Royce is all about.  For instance, stand behind the car and you’ll see the wood between the back seats aligns exactly the same as the wood on the dash.  All interior wood runs the same direction.

The back seats are split with a large center console making the Dawn a 4-passenger convertible with plenty of room for any size adult.  The front seats slide forward and with the door configuration, getting out of the back seat is a breeze.  You can actually stand up to exit when the top is down.

All four of the headrests have the Rolls-Royce logo embroidered on them, but you can have anything you wish.  For instance, if I wanted the Despreporno logo instead, that is not a problem.  This Dawn has the $5000 bespoke interior that features navy blue accents on the white air conditioned seats.

The gear shifter is located on a stalk to the right of the steering wheel, which frees up space on the center console.

A couple of other cool features on the Dawn are a very colorful head-up display that is easy to read, and also heat-seeking night vision that will allow you to see people and animals at night from a distance.

You can read War and Peace faster than you can read the list of standard features and options.

This car drives great, it floats down the road, yet is easy to drive in spite of its size and almost 3-ton weight.  The big V-12 has amazing acceleration. When you step hard on the gas, the front end raises and it just goes, but you get no engine noise inside.

Not that owners of this car care, but fuel economy is 12 in town and 19 on the highway, and frankly, I’m not getting even close to that.

You can read War and Peace faster than you can read the list of standard features and options.  Other than the Canadel wood, the most expensive option is the Dawn package, which is $27,000 and includes active cruise control, the embroidered headrests, the night vision, tread plates, and an upgraded sound system.

Base price of the car is $341,000 and equipped like this one, the total retail price is $431,980 including the $2,600 gas-guzzler tax.   

The Rolls-Royce Dawn is an amazing car with an unbelievable combination of exquisite design and detail.

2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Drophead Coupe

  • What I liked most:  Interior and exterior appearance, the driving experience. 
  • What I would change:  Add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two great features.     
  • MSRP: Base price $341,760. As equipped $431,980.
  • Fuel Economy:  12-city/19-highway, 14 combined.   
  • Odometer reading when tested: 400 miles.
  • Official Color: Royal Blue
  • Weight:  5792 Pounds.
  • Length-Width-Height:  208.5” long/76.7” wide/59.1” high.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.7 gallons with filler on the passenger side.
  • Towing Capacity: N/A.
  • Spare Tire:  Full-sized spare
  • Final Assembly Point:  Chichester, Germany.  
  • 2017 Dawn in a few words:  Amazing convertible, uncompromising luxury, and you’ll never see another one just like yours. 
  • Warranty:  4-year/unlimited mileage bumper-to-bumper warranty with all maintenance and roadside assistance.
  • Manufacturer’s website:    

Special thanks to Malcolm Gage and the Park Place Premier Collection in Dallas for use of this beautiful automobile.


Tags: 2017, dawn, rolls royce
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