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2018 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overview

Like the Wraith and Ghost that preceded it, the 2018 Rolls-Royce Dawn Black Badge offers enhanced performance and conspicuous styling that’s a distinctive departure from its traditional design flair.

On the performance end, the BMW-sourced twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 gets a bump of 30 horsepower and 14.75 pound-feet of torque for an astonishing 593 hp and 619.5 lb-ft—good enough to propel Dawn to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. That’s quite the feat for a 5,600-lb car. Capping off this added performance is an adaptive exhaust system that will add a deep baritone note to its delicious V12 chorus.

Additionally, the steering, transmission, and suspension have all gotten attention to “encourage spirited driving.” The steering ratio is quicker and heavier at speed, and the ZF 8-speed transmission downshifts more readily to allow for quicker shifts and engine braking during deceleration.

Rolls-Royce has never been known for producing cars with exceptional cornering ability; instead, its focus has been on overall driver comfort. For Black Badge vehicles, Rolls-Royce aims to strike a balance between the two. Should the Dawn Black fail in that endeavor, brakes have been enlarged by 1 inch to 15.7 front and 15.6 rear to help bring this behemoth to a safe stop.

While the Dawn is based on the Wraith coupe, itself based largely on the BMW 7 Series, Rolls-Royce claims 80 percent of the body panels themselves are new. Indeed, while rolling on the same wheelbase, the Dawn’s front overhang has been extended by more than 2 inches. And, with the Black Badge edition, a set of custom options has been collected for an imposing, dark profile that the company continually seems to refer to as “sensual.” Still, as each will be individually commissioned and optioned beyond the base configuration, it will be unlikely to see two exactly alike.

For the aesthetics, the Dawn Black is predictably black. From the interior trim and paint to the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, every opportunity to inject some darkness was seized. And, in true Rolls-Royce style, each piece was augmented with special care. The paint, available only in black, is hand polished. Similarly, the roof is solely available in black canvas, and the rear deck comes finished only in black leather.

This is just the start of the black treatments, however. Black chrome is the finish of choice for the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, matching the grille surround, exhaust, trunk lid trim, and air inlet trim. The “Double R” badging gets a color inversion—something the manufacturer hopes signifies the Black edition’s alter ego.

Interior trim pieces get equal attention. Threads of aircraft-grade aluminum only 0.014mm are woven together with carbon fiber—the same process used in the construction of stealth aircraft—and then coated with six layers of lacquer before being hand polished. Even the air vents get a special surfacing treatment called “physical vapor deposition,” used in semiconductor and thin-film solar panel construction, to keep them from discoloring or tarnishing.

The upgraded leather interior is only available in black with orange stitching and highlights. The devilish affair is finished with a final strip of orange encircling the entire cabin that’s intended to evoke a sunset, while Sir Malcolm Campbell’s infinity logo is embroidered into the rear waterfall—a unique touch Rolls-Royce hopes will add an additional air of danger. Rolling on 22-inch matte black wheels, 1 inch larger than the standard Dawn, the Black edition is immediately recognizable inside and out.

Pricing is yet to be determined, but with the standard Dawn starting at $346,300, you can expect the Black to skirt $400,000. Additional available options will allow buyers to push that much higher, but the 2018 Rolls-Royce Dawn—especially the Black edition—offers car buyers a way to stand out from the crowd.


A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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