Believe it or not, the summer has already come to an end. With Halloween just around the corner, Rolls-Royce (RR) has dropped off a spooky gift for fans of its brand.
There’s a new ‘Ghost’ in town.
The devilishly good looking all-new sedan marks a new era for Rolls, and is fully-redesigned using a modern aluminum space frame, a new “planar” suspension system — but still using that monstrous V-12 engine.
Although it’s the ‘cheapest’ Rolls you can own, it’s not exactly for bargain-hunters out there, with the car starting at around $332,500.
While the new Ghost is great, my personal take is the best Rolls is one that lets you experience the absolute luxury that is the brand, in the open air and that means a grand touring convertible. If I were able to get a Rolls-Royce (and in this dream world I have Jeff Bezos’ money), it would be the Dawn. Furthermore, it would not just be the regular Dawn, I would splash out for the Black Badge version.
Think of Black Badge not as a sub-brand for Rolls-Royce, but as a special designation for its current offerings. Rolls says Black Badge cars will come with more power, finer-tuned suspension for more dynamic handling, and include custom colorways and black accents, to give the cars a more modern look.
Not exactly what you normally envision for the brand, but one thing that it does do is bring in younger buyers into the fold. Rolls Royce acknowledges that’s exactly what Black Badge cars are doing.
A new ‘Dawn’ with Black Badge
Before the pandemic hit, Rolls invited a few journalists for a drive around Miami and the surrounding areas (most notably the Wynwood Arts District) to test the range of offerings under the Black Badge label. I went for the Dawn, and had it to myself for one glorious day.
The Black Badge Dawn came in a stunning — and I mean stunning — “Magma Red” color with enhanced Black Badge accents, like dark chrome waterfall grill and ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ hood ornament, and black carbon-fiber composite wheel rims.
The Black Badge Dawn may be sporty, but is still huge — with almost yacht-like proportions. Admittedly Rolls can’t go too far here on the sporty end, as they still have a legacy brand image to uphold.
So while the car looks a little sporty, even a bit more spry, it’s still a Rolls through and through and that continues inside. You open the wide coach doors and sit yourself down in one of the most comfortable seats in the automotive world today. Plus your feet rest comfortably on those famous super-plush lambswool floormats. Believe me when I tell you it’s hard getting out of this car.
Surrounding you on the dash, door, and center console is more black leather, contrasted with a sporty secondary color in what Rolls calls “Mugello Red,” named after the famed racetrack in the Tuscany region of Italy. In place of traditional wood veneers in the dash are some panels made with what Rolls is calling “Black Badge Technical Fibre,” which appear to be a high-end carbon fiber or composite of some sort. It’s sporty, and contemporary, just the vibe Rolls has in mind here.
Getting behind the wheel and slotting the column mounted shifter into drive, the Dawn scoots off in a regal, serene way, though you do note some light stiffness in the otherwise soft ‘magic carpet ride’ as Rolls calls it.
There’s a little less roll in the corners too, and I think this is a good thing. Rolls has captured just enough of the sportiness that you want, but still keeping that ultra-plush nature of what driving a Rolls-Royce is all about. It’s a grand tourer in the highest order, but not a luxurious couch on wheels that drives like a land yacht either.
The monstrous 6.6 liter V-12 that powers the Dawn takes you around town, and on the highway, in a supremely confident way. There is no lack of power even in a car this big, when you have 593 hp (almost 30 more than the standard Dawn), along with 605 lb-ft of torque.
With Rolls being a BMW (BMWYY) portfolio company, you get all the high-end safety and convenience features that you would expect at this price point — including driver assistance tech like heads-up display, night-vision, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control with stop & go.
You also get dynamic stability control, dynamic traction control, and cornering brake control (which I believe is similar to torque-vectoring that allows for more aggressive cornering).
All that is great, but that’s not why you own this car. The Dawn is all about cruising down the Wynwood district in Miami, or Ocean Drive in South Beach, with the top down, at boulevard speed with the car almost floating down the lane. It’s absolute comfort, and really the most luxury one can find in a car today.
And with Black Badge, Rolls-Royce is taking the Dawn from the English countryside to the city streets, without skipping a beat. It’s really hard not to love this kind of motoring.
The Rolls-Royce Dawn Black Badge edition starts at $356,500, and as tested came in at $458,875.