First drive: the Ferrari Roma Spider rekindles la dolce vita

Although its other cars may prove a little intimidating in performance and price, the marque’s latest drop-top finds the sweet spot

Think la dolce vita and, of course, you’ll conjure up images of suave Europeans, sharp suits, Riva boats darting across the Med, and pretty pastel-coloured buildings at sunset in Portofino. But Ferrari would also like you to dream of its latest V8 drop-top.

“The Ferrari Roma Spider brings the concept of the dolce vita into the modern era,” say the marque’s representatives at the car’s launch in sun-drenched Sardinia. As the first canvas soft-top, front-engined Ferrari since the drop-top Daytona was launched more than 50 years ago, the Roma Spider is a “contemporary take on the chic, pleasure-seeking Italian lifestyle of the 1950s and 60s.”

Side profile of Ferrari Roma Spider, pulling out of the coastal driveway

A cosy picture to paint, it’s easy to see how the drop-top Roma takes inspiration from the golden-age of classically styled Ferraris. Sporting a shark nose front end and a fastback profile at the rear, the new Roma Spider references legendary cars from the 1960s, such as the 250 GT California Spyder, which is now one of the most sought-after and valuable classics on the market.

The new drop-top Roma arrives three years after the launch of the coupe – and, despite the threat of the coming winter weather, its timing is unlikely to bother most Ferrari buyers who probably have a handful of properties in warmer climes in which to enjoy it. If not, who doesn’t love a top-down blast on a crisp winter morning?

Back of Ferrari Roma Spider

Packing a punchy front-mid mounted, twin-turbo V8 that produces 612bhp, the Roma Spider can launch from standing to 62mph in 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed just shy of 200mph. Not only impressive on paper, it’s hugely enjoyable on the tight and twisting roads that hug Sardinia’s southern tip, from Cagliari down to Bernardu, on the coast, and up into the hills around Medau Casteddu.

Despite the lack of roof, the Spider benefits from strengthened sills and rear structure, keeping it just as tight through the twists and turns as its coupe counterpart. Handling and performance are exemplary, as you’d expect from a marque with its roots in racing, and that experience is heightened with the roof dropped. With the manettino mounted on the steering wheel switched to sport or race mode, soaking up the pure sound of the mighty V8 burbling out the back is both unavoidable and highly addictive.

Ferrari Roma Spider driving along coastal road
Ferrari Roma Spider driving along road between mountain range to the coast

From the outside, the Roma was already one of the most attractive modern Ferraris on offer, and the Spider is no exception. Although some cars suffer from slightly awkward looks with their roof removed, the Roma Spider suits its topless guise very well. In an age when too many supercar stylists go out of their way to ensure a car shouts about its performance credentials, the Roma’s elegant styling is comparatively reserved.

Ferrari Roma Spider interior
Ferrari Roma Spider roof folding out or away

On the inside, there’s very little change, save for the pop-up wind deflector that ensures that minimal turbulence enters the cabin with the roof dropped, even at high speeds. Ferrari’s dual cockpit layout is present, with a cascading centre console separating driver and passenger, while housing the infotainment touchscreen. And, even though the Roma Spider’s steering wheel still features the same touch-sensitive buttons, which are a little difficult to use on the go, the huge carbonfibre paddles and majestic manettino switch make up for it.

Despite the roof taking up space as it folds into the rear bodywork, miraculously there’s still room for two tiny upright seats in the back. But, be warned, this is no Bentley – so don’t go thinking you’ll manage to cram a child seat in the back.

Ferrari Roma Spider automatic gear box
Ferrari Roma Spider dashboard
Ferrari Roma Spider suade dashboard

With more than enough power on tap, the Roma Spider is a sharp sportscar that can transform into a convertible grand tourer that’s comfortable and compliant. In the never-ending automotive arms race, finding a car with usable performance on the open road is a challenge, but the Roma Spider strikes the balance perfectly, without scaring you witless when you come to push it.

With prices starting from £210,313, it’s easy to close in on the £300,000 mark after indulging in the options list. The car I tested weighed in at £291,861 on the road, sporting close to £82,000 in extras, including a £7,190 ‘glossy carbonfibre rear diffuser’ and a £3,000 F1-style carbonfibre steering wheel with LEDs that light up to guide your gear shifts.

One can get carried away, but that’s par for the course – it’s a Ferrari, after all. Even though the rest of the Prancing Horse’s range might prove a little intimidating in performance and price, its latest drop-top, with little doubt, occupies a sweet spot.

Want more motoring content? Read our review of Toyota’s new, retro-styled Land Cruiser…

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