A Lesson In Luxury – Rolls Royce Dawn Black Badge


A few weeks ago Rolls Royce Motor Cars ended production of the Dawn, but not before I spent a few days with the Black Badge edition.

Since the introduction of the Phantom VII back in 2003, the style and stature of these wonderful cars have developed like an artisanal baker mastering their craft. The Phantom was a striking and bold new design unlike any other car from the manufacturer, and then we got the Phantom Drop Head, which is still quite possibly the best-looking convertible ever built. As stunning as the Drop Head and Drop Head Coupe were, like the Phantom they were based on, they needed refreshing and refining. Enter the Wraith and Dawn.

Veteran readers will know that this isn’t my first time in the Dawn – I did drive a “standard” Dawn, whatever that may be, on track at Goodwood’s fabulous historic circuit but this was to be my first time experiencing the car in the real world on the road. And what an experience it has been.

Photograph courtesy of Sprite Photography

To put it into context I had moved into my new house just two weeks prior to the Dawn being delivered, so to say it caused a bit of a stir with the new neighbours would be an understatement. Finished in silky-smooth “Selby Grey” – A paint that as you get closer gets better and better due to the crystal finish – over Selby Grey leather with Black and Charles Blue piping and Rolls Royce’s very own Black Badge “Technical Fibre” trim that I fell in love with in the Cullinan Black Badge I tested a few years ago. It’s not exactly a spec I would put together on those quiet nights spent exploring the online configurator, but in the metal, it looked superb.

From the outside, the Dawn Black Badge is as elegant as it is grand, like a superyacht in a marina full of fishing boats. Despite being smaller than the Phantom Drop Head, it’s still a big barge with a sweeping bonnet and this long rear deck resembling a Riva Aquarama. And because of its vast proportions, the 21″ carbon alloy composite wheels look modest in the smooth flared arches. Being the Black Badge model, the Pantheon grill, beltline, and tail light surrounds are all finished in gloss black instead of the usual chrome and I think it pulls the car together beautifully. The tailpipes are also finished in black and hide not four, but six(!) exhaust tips. A sure sign of what is hiding under that intriguingly long bonnet…

Photograph courtesy of Sprite Photography

As one can expect, with this being the Black Badge, it is the most powerful iteration of the Dawn. The six-litre V12 powerplant churns out an eye-watering 600PS that can move this drop-top cruiser from 0-60mph in just 4.8 seconds. But it’s not the time that is actually the impressive bit, but more the way the power is delivered. There’s no punch or jerky kickback, instead, you have this effortless surge of power that makes it feel more like the earth is moving backwards beneath the wheels. It all feels so civilised and calm as it charges forward.

Now, I wouldn’t say the driving experience is particularly “dynamic” or “agile”, as that is not what this car is about, but it certainly is impressive. And how it manages to do all this whilst remaining flat and quiet is nothing short of magic. The suspension soaks up the road ahead like every road was a fresh new European motorway, a particularly nice change of scenery given the current state of the roads around me. Despite the sheer vastness of this car, it is incredibly easy to live with due to its four-wheel steering and 360-degree cameras, it is as manoeuvrable as a Fiat 500 around town and it feels like a car half its length on twistier roads.

Photograph courtesy of Sprite Photography

Inside the Dawn, it is exactly what you would want and expect from the most luxurious automotive manufacturer in the world. Soft, sumptuous leather seats that are not only heated and cooled but also massaging to ensure every drive is the most relaxing drive you’ve been on despite the weapons-grade V12 engine pushing you along with incredible pace. Even though the car is a soft-top convertible, Rolls Royce have spared no expense with sound deadening and exterior noise cancellation to make the cabin as calm and peaceful as the Dawn’s hard-top siblings.

There are many familiar luxuries in the Dawn, such as the custom umbrellas in the doors, the metal air vents and organ pull controls, and those gorgeous art deco touches in the door handles and interior lights that we all fell in love with in the Phantom. The fact that they have kept traditional HVAC controls and decided to steer clear of touchscreens is probably the biggest selling point for me as it shows you can have CarPlay and all these other wonderful features without having to use another laggy and infuriating touchscreen. The BMW-based system works wonderfully with the centre console-mounted selecter wheel and I really do wish all modern cars worked like this. However, unlike the non-convertible vehicles, there is no constellation sky roof lining available and you’ll have to make do with a cashmere roof, but I think the call more than makes up for it when you lower the top and you can then have a real star-filled sky…

The Dawn Black Badge is everything you would expect from Rolls Royce’s most powerful open-top tourer, and a whole lot more. The way it delivers all that power from that glorious V12 is simply astonishing. I am certain that when Rolls Royce does launch the EV replacement, it will be even better in every way if the new Spectre is anything to go by but I cannot stress how much I will miss this powertrain. Not that it matters hugely, as at £350,000 as tested, I am about as far from the target audience as I can possibly get, but you never know. If my numbers ever came in, the first number I would call would be my local Rolls Royce dealer as they really are in a league of their own.

Photography for this article was provided by Rick Noel of Sprite Photography – you can see his various work on his Instagram HERE, Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE

Thank you to Rolls Royce Motor Cars UK for the supply of this vehicle and the ongoing support for Well Driven.