Bowing in Frankfurt, the 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn takes open-air motoring to a new level of refined elegance. Although based on the Wraith coupe, Rolls notes the Dawn's unique exterior styling -- only 20 percent of its body panels are common -- merits a unique place in the family lineup. "Our new Rolls-Royce Dawn promises a striking, seductive encounter like no other Rolls-Royce to date, and begins a new age of open-top, super-luxury motoring," stated Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, adding: "Quite simply, it is the sexiest Rolls-Royce ever built."

Drawing its name and inspiration from a limited series of Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn "drophead" models of which only 28 were made between 1950-1954, this new-age iteration maintains classic R-R proportions along with bespoke cues that emphasize horizontal rather than the traditional vertical elements. A bolder front fascia extends further forward while the Dawn's grille insert is recessed in its frame and bordered by new adaptive LED headlamps with anti-glare technology. The car's sleek profile is punctuated by either 20-inch or 21-inch wheel/tire packages while the gently tapering aft quarters recall earlier classic Rolls-Royce boat tail cabriolet models. 

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Crowning the Dawn is a 6-layer power fabric top that can be operated at vehicle speeds of up to 31 mph in 22 seconds as part of what R-R engineers call the "Silent Ballet." That same serenity prevails when the Dawn runs in closed mode, as its maker says the top's external and internal design helps ensure that the cabin is as quiet as the Wraith. The top parks itself under a custom-crafted wood deck that "waterfalls" between the Dawn's individual rear seats that Rolls points out are fully adult-accommodating. 

Sumptuous comfort

Although passenger compartment design basics carry from the Wraith, the Dawn features enhancements to complement its rich leather upholstery, book-matched wood accents and full-length console. Beyond unique polished and matte metal on the instruments and dash and new analog clock, the Dawn boasts an updated version of the firm's Multimedia Interface and Navigation system with a new 10.25-inch high-definition screen, the latest Spirit of Ecstasy rotary controller with a new gesture-sensitive touchpad and a custom version of the Bepoke Audio optimized for Dawn patrol use. Also on hand are GPS-based Satellite Aided Transmission technology that can anticipate upcoming road conditions based on location and driving style. And should the worst occur, a pair of rollover bars pop up from behind the rear headrests. 

Motivation for the 2016 Rolls Royce Dawn comes from the same 6.6-liter twin-turbo used in the Wraith. Here, too, the V12 makes 563 horsepower, 575 lb-ft of torque and drives the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Although at 5,644 pounds, it's roughly 450 pounds heavier than the Wraith, the Dawn can still sprint from 0-62 mph in a claimed 4.9 seconds. Numerous upgrades were made to ensure the integrity of its structure, which Rolls says makes it the most rigid 4-seat convertible available today. The Dawn also benefits from a chassis retune that includes new air springs and active roll bars to help preserve the classic "Magic Carpet" Rolls ride. 

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2015

Pricing has not been released for the 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn, but we've been advised that it's likely to start in the low-$300,000 range. Dealers have already begun taking orders with the first deliveries scheduled in April.

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