The Ferrari mystique is a complex blend of emotions. For the fortunate few, it’s a golden ticket to an exclusive ownership club or a bold declaration of affluence. For the rest, it represents extravagant excess. But for true car aficionados, that iconic prancing horse badge signifies pure automotive ecstasy—a beacon of hope on even the gloomiest days. The uninitiated, however, often find themselves wondering what all the fuss is about.
Even the most indifferent car enthusiast cannot help but be captivated by the raw appeal of the new Ferrari Roma Spider. This convertible iteration of Ferrari’s current front-engined GT car was unveiled in the spring of 2023. Crafted in-house at the Ferrari Styling Centre, the Roma Spider effortlessly claims its place as one of today’s most stunning automobiles.
This declaration will surely quicken the heartbeats of Ferrari’s leadership. The Roma was conceived as a heartfelt homage to “La Dolce Vita,” the golden age of the 1950s and 1960s when Italy was synonymous with style, luxury, and life’s pleasures—across fashion, architecture, design, cuisine, and culture, in addition to automotive design. During this era, Ferrari was a driving force in shaping this cultural renaissance, under the visionary leadership of Enzo Ferrari. It marked an era of unparalleled racing dominance and the embodiment of the ultimate luxury sports car on the open road. Ferraris of that time came in a myriad of styles, designed by various carrozzeria firms vying for Enzo’s attention.
Constructed from five layers of acoustic fabric with a real glass rear panel, the Roma’s roof can be lowered at speeds of up to 60km/h, folding away in just 13.5 seconds. The trunk space remains relatively unburdened, perfect for a weekend getaway, while the sound insulation creates a serene atmosphere. You have the option of choosing from four colors, including an optional “iridescent weave” that lends the closed top a reflective, slightly glossy surface. Contrast stitching and various customizations are also available.
It’s hard to fathom how Ferrari will manage to electrify an experience rooted in the explosive power of traditional combustion. Despite the Roma Spider’s advanced systems, from traction control to active aerodynamics, there are moments when technology clashes with raw emotion.
For instance, the Roma includes lane-keeping assist and an emergency braking system, both making their debut in a Ferrari. These features are driven by the need for high safety ratings but have garnered mixed reactions from purists.
As a testament to Ferrari’s commitment to driving purity, one of the first things Ferrari’s representative did was turn both systems off.
The concept of an “affordable Ferrari” is a thing of the past. Nevertheless, the Roma Spider’s fusion of nostalgia, breathtaking beauty, and driving pleasure doesn’t guarantee it a spot in the supercar collector’s garage. New money may be hesitant to embrace the Roma’s unapologetic commitment to traditional combustion. Some may find the front-engined design lacking in visual drama compared to more extreme supercars.
The Roma is an object of undeniable beauty that, ironically, might struggle to win universal affection.
Ferrari Roma Spider, starting at €242 350, as tested €331 .592
One notable aspect that transports the Roma Spider to that halcyon era is the classic canvas convertible roof, a departure from modern folding hardtops. According to Ferrari, it’s the first time a traditional fabric roof has been combined with a front-engined car in over half a century, a feat last accomplished with the 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS4. However, today’s soft tops outshine their 1960s counterparts in terms of sophistication.
A true Spider is meant to be driven with the top down, and the days of being buffeted by the wind are long gone. A cleverly designed wind deflector over the rear seats creates a calm bubble of serenity around the driver and passenger, allowing you to fully enjoy the turbocharged V8 engine up front. This powerplant delivers a commanding 620CV, offering an exhilarating burst of power when you floor the throttle and composed progress when you take it easy.
Driving the Roma Spider on the winding roads of southern Sardinia was an unforgettable experience. The warm autumn weather, light traffic, and smooth roads allowed for an instant connection with a car that proved remarkably easy to drive at high speeds. Unlike many modern GTs, the Spider feels agile and compact. The driver’s seat offers an evocative view of the curvaceous wheel arches, bisected by the engine’s bulge. Corners can be attacked with confidence, overtaking is a breeze, and the power and grip never falter.
The Roma’s ergonomics and electronics are either maddeningly unique or a refreshing departure from the norm, depending on your perspective. The start button is a touch pad on the steering wheel, and the infotainment system can be bewildering to operate while driving. Some of the haptic touch buttons are far from intuitive.
However, driving the Roma daily is entirely feasible. The comfortable seats, rear storage space, and ease of operation at low speeds make it a practical choice. But in the world of Ferrari ownership, such a car typically joins a collection of similar machines and is rarely used for everyday commuting.
Ferrari proudly touts the Roma’s dynamic and sporting capabilities, but it’s equally proud of its “restrained elegance.” Although it’s a car designed for performance, driving the Roma through populated areas may test whether people find the engine’s roar harmonious or menacing. It’s a car for making an entrance and moving on. Enjoying “La Dolce Vita” can be a challenge when you’re passing people whose lives are far from sweet, and no amount of nostalgia or admiration can change that.