– Sardinia, Italy
As much as the world needs aero-cheating, record-beating supercars, gobsmackingly gorgeous new Ferraris had seemingly gone extinct until the Roma was unveiled in late 2019. The Flavio Manzoni–designed coupe debuted in – you guessed it – the Eternal City, introducing sleek surfaces and evocative curves to the Ferrari lineup. A convertible was supposed to follow shortly, but the pandemic postponed the ragtop version until it finally broke cover earlier this year.
Framed against Sardinia’s stunning backdrop of sea, sand, and towering natural terrain, the 2024 Ferrari Roma Spider certainly looks the part of a pretty Ferrari convertible. But is it a satisfying driver or does it lean too heavily on the lifestyle angle of sunshine and island vibes? I tackled miles of coastal and mountain roads in search of the answer.
|2024 Ferrari Roma Spider
|Twin-Turbocharged 3.9-Litre V8
|612 BHP / 561 Pound-Feet
Swift And Stunning
First off, the Roma’s underpinnings offer a solid foundation to build upon. It may be the "entry" Ferrari once the Portofino goes the way of the dinosaur, but there’s little to complain about here. Under the snooty bonnet is a twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 that pumps a stout 612 bhp and 561 pound-feet of torque. Notably, 80 percent of that twist is available below 1,900 rpm – more on that later. Aiding balance is an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s positioned at the rear, helping the 7,500 rpm V8 more effectively lay down power to the road.
Because open-air cars inherently lose torsional rigidity, the Roma Spider was slapped with reinforcement in order to keep its structure as stiff as possible. Among the additions that boost the curb weight by 185 pounds are a retractable wind deflector and two hidden, pop-up rollbars behind the rear "seats." The quotations are added because no normal-sized human could squeeze into the petite perches, which is why Ferrari calls this a "2+," not a 2+2.
The top is a five-layer fabric sandwich that can fold in 13.5 seconds at speeds up to 37 miles per hour. The wind deflector deploys over the rear seats by pushing a button, reducing in-cabin turbulence. Speeders beware: Once it’s in place, the deflector works even at maximum velocity, but it can’t be actuated or stowed above 105 mph. Ferrari estimates that the deflector reduces turbulence by around 30 percent, which seems consistent with my impressions.
The Roma fires up with the controversially non-tactile Start "button" on the steering wheel, which operates haptically. Big paddles flank the wheel, which in the case of this tester were finished in glossy carbon fibre. There’s a deep, satisfying thrum from the smallish V8 that quells much of the criticism folks lob at forced induction engines. For a twin-turbo setup, this is pretty sonorous.
Gone is the Roma coupe’s steering wheel, whose overly sensitive haptic sensors have been replaced with a more user-friendly helm from the Purosangue. There are still a few ergonomic quirks to the convertible, including difficult-to-negotiate mirror adjustments, quirky steering wheel controls, and interruptions to the navigation screen when adjusting the climate.
However, the Manettino switch remains a well-executed way to manage vehicle dynamics settings including traction, stability control, and suspension damping settings. The switch clicks into one of four fixed positions with positive engagement, and a nicely damped spring action to switch the ESC off. While I would have preferred individualised control over the performance parameters, the one-stop-shopping interface seems to suit the Roma’s low-key personality.
For a twin-turbo setup, this is pretty sonorous.
Tap the paddle into first gear, and the Roma Spider slips the clutch smoothly into a prodigious powerband that pulls strongly all the way up to the 7,500-rpm redline. You’re unlikely to reach those heights in automatic mode, regardless of the Manettino setting; this (mostly) smooth-shifting eight-speed tends to upshift early, which likely has something to do with its rather reasonable fuel economy numbers. Though the ragtop hasn’t yet been officially rated, the coupe comes in with a combined fuel economy figure of 19 miles per gallon.
The V8’s a honey of an engine with loads of torque that devours most roads and virtually all straightaways in short order, pulling from low revs and pushing hard until the next gear. When the top is down, the faint whine of turbochargers can be heard when revs build up. While the Spider hasn’t received official acceleration figures from the factory, the coupe achieves 62 mph in a scant 3.4 seconds; the ragtop feels similarly swift.
Overriding automatic mode and tapping the left paddle for a downshift requires upshifts before redline in all settings from Comfort and up. I’d personally prefer the transmission to upshift automatically at redline in Comfort mode, but Ferrari saw it differently; at least the upper registers are easy to monitor thanks to Ferrari’s signature shift lights embedded at 12 o’clock on the steering wheel.
That wheel links to the chassis and tires in wonderfully intuitive ways, enabling turn-in that’s crisp but not abrupt, stable but not stodgy. Roma Spider negotiates corners with finesse, managing an outstanding balance between smooth ride quality and controlled handling.
Thanks to the mass centralised mid-front engine/rear transaxle setup, the Ferrari Roma Spider drives smaller and meaner than its exterior proportions might suggest; despite its expansive footprint, the Spider can negotiate corners with surprising sharpness. Beyond the high-end hardware, the Roma Spider feels like it was tuned to deliver a punch that defies its elegance, and a sense of composure that suggests there’s more behind its starting price of £210,313 than merely a prancing horse logo and the promise of heightened social esteem. This is a ragtop that commands road presence while delivering giggles and grins when the road gets kinky.
The Roma Spider is not without its quirks, the most prominent of which are some lingering ergonomic nuisances and limitations that might irk drivers seeking more control over its dynamic settings. Quibbles aside, the Roma Spider manages to feel special because it embodies two seemingly disparate forces: natural-born style and oodles of athletic capability, with the added bonus of being comfortable enough for long-distance drives. This lovely ragtop is a much-needed dose of functional beauty that the Ferrari lineup, and the world, could use right about now.
Gallery: 2024 Ferrari Roma Spider First Drive Review
2024 Ferrari Roma Spider