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2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn is the hot rod of Rollers

The rear deck of a 37-metre super yacht might seem like a strange place to launch a new car - there's precious little room to test its cornering ability for a start - but when it's the Rolls-Royce Dawn you're talking about, it makes sense.

Super yachts like Sydney's Tango - yours for a cool $5250 an hour, if you're interested - are the sort of place Rolls-Royce owners feel at home, and many of them probably own one.

Parking the new Dawn - which several Australians have already ordered, without test driving, for a cool $749,000 on the road - in front of, or indeed on top of, the backdrop of Sydney Harbour also allowed us to fully appreciate its beautiful lines, apparently.

Rolls-Royce has had itself all in a lather over this new luxury drop top for months, describing it as "the sexiest" car they've ever made, and global product manager for Dawn, Jonathan Shears, seemed almost overcome by the "erotic tingle on the skin, awakening the senses and passions as the day begins" that his car allegedly evokes.

During a detailed walk around of the car - which is what you get when you're not allowed to drive one - he said that while we were probably expecting a convertible version of the Wraith, we were wrong.

"This is not a drop head Wraith, she stands very uniquely apart from all our other cars, but she deserves her place," he enthused, before going on to describe the car's admittedly beautiful design as "dynamic, seductive, alluring and powerful".

The side-on view, with its coach line rising and falling from front to rear, "gives it a low-slung stance, and almost a hot-rod type of feel".

So, an erotic, sexy, hot rod Rolls-Royce? Clearly, this is not your typical Roller, and sure enough the company says it is aiming for a different kind of customer, which is paying off with a high level of interest from "affluent yet younger customers who are new to the brand".

The Dawn's real party piece, of course, is its six-layer fabric roof, which is truly wraith like in the way that it performs its piece of engineering ballet in almost complete silence, and just 21 seconds. Rolls' engineers claim it is the quietest folding roof in the world, and that getting it to work at speeds of up to 50km/h was one of the greatest engineering challenges they've ever mastered.

A car like Dawn is not about numbers but more about the kind of magic carpet ride

Once it's down, the beautiful interior really does sparkle as brightly as the Harbour, with a "waterfall panel" of timber running from the yacht-like rear deck, between the passengers and all the way to the dash.

As usual, the carpets are so lush and soft it will be tempting to drive it only in bare foot, or perhaps thongs. Or to lie down on the floor and nap.

While Shears was keen to enforce the idea that a car like Dawn is not about numbers but more about the kind of magic carpet ride experience that only a Rolls can provide, with its satellite-aided transmission pre-selecting gears before hills or corners arrive, its figures are impressive.

The Dawn will be powered by a 6.6-litre turbocharged V12 with a whopping 420kW and 780Nm, which will hurl its impressive bulk to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds.

Rolls likes to claim that the Dawn is a proper four-seater, rather than a two-plus-two like most luxury convertibles, and this might be the one point at which they're actually exaggerating, because rear leg room is more adequate than commodious.

In every other way, though, and particularly the price - you can get a Ghost for $595,000 or a Wraith for $645,000 - the new Dawn really is as impressive as we'd been led to believe. Almost as impressive as a super yacht, even.

Given a choice, would you Dawn, Wraith or Ghost? Tell us in the comments below.

Stephen Corby
Contributing Journalist
Stephen Corby stumbled into writing about cars after being knocked off the motorcycle he’d been writing about by a mob of angry and malicious kangaroos. Or that’s what he says, anyway. Back in the early 1990s, Stephen was working at The Canberra Times, writing about everything from politics to exciting Canberra night life, but for fun he wrote about motorcycles. After crashing a bike he’d borrowed, he made up a colourful series of excuses, which got the attention of the motoring editor, who went on to encourage him to write about cars instead. The rest, as they say, is his story. Reviewing and occasionally poo-pooing cars has taken him around the world and into such unexpected jobs as editing TopGear Australia magazine and then the very venerable Wheels magazine, albeit briefly. When that mag moved to Melbourne and Stephen refused to leave Sydney he became a freelancer, and has stayed that way ever since, which allows him to contribute, happily, to CarsGuide.
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