Soaking in the last of the Sardinian summer sun in the new 200mph soft-top Ferrari Roma Spider was wind in the hair motoring at its finest.
The sound of the suitably throaty twin exhausts around the Italian island resulted in admiring looks wherever I went.
And so it should with prices starting from £210,313 – enough to buy you a studio flat in the less fashionable areas of outer London, a two bed flat in Bristol, a terrace in Sheffield, or a three-bed detached in parts of Newcastle.
That base price is a £30,000 uplift on the current hard-topped Roma coupe which starts from £182,675.
Full throttle: Our man Ray Massey took the new Ferrari Roma Spider out for a spin around Sardinia
But few, if any buyers, will pay the base price, given the array of temping ‘extras’ on offer in a 20-page price and options list – pushing the actual expended spend to closer to a quarter of a million pounds, or more.
– Magneride magnetic dual mode suspension dampers are a £3,390 option – but every car coming to the UK has them, perhaps to cope with the potholes;
– Carbon fibre on virtually everything from £7,190 for a rear diffuser, to £3,595 for boot trim and £5,341 for an under-door cover;
– £8,731 for an airbrushed logo badge;
– £2,054 for a neck warmer;
– £5,136 for a two-tone leather interior.
Ferrari says it is the first time for 54 years that there has been a soft-top front-engined prancing horse – since the 1969 365 GTS4.
And with a vast choice of colours – from a basic 18 options to special, classic and historical colours as a £7,601 option, plus hundreds of bespoke and personalised shades – you won’t be lost for choice.
La Dolce Vita looks
The car looks gorgeous – whether with the roof up or down – but especially when exposed to the open air.
Ferrari says the simplified front with its overhanging shark-nose is designed to look as if were sculpted from single block of metal.
From the back, the Spider’s long rear overhang echoes Ferraris of the 1950s and 60s but with low, compact axle-hugging proportions and a slim tail-light assembly.
New era: Ferrari says it is the first time for 54 years that there has been a soft-top front-engined prancing horse
There are 18 basic colour options along with special, classic and historical colours as a £7,601 option, plus hundreds of bespoke and personalised shades
A clever combination of design and tech creates a ‘protective bubble’ for the driver and front occupant even when open to the elements.
Ferrari believes the Roma Spider is the epitome of a new ‘Dolce Vita’ or sweet life.
Officially it plays down its attraction for women drivers, though a promotional film for it significantly features several glamorous stars of the Italian screen including Anita Ekberg (from the 1960s Fellini movie La Dolce Vita), Sophia Loren and James Bond star Monica Bellucci, though Marcello Mastroianni was among those representing male icons.
Slicing off the Roma coupe’s metal roof creates engineering challenges to keep the soft-top Spider version sufficiently stiff and robust.
So the extra structural support for the all-aluminium chassis means the cabriolet weights around 84kg more than its hard-topped sibling – about the weight of the average man.
Sweet life: Ferrari believes the Roma Spider is the epitome of a new Dolce Vita
Top speed is 199mph-plus – let’s call that 200mph with a fair wind
Power with responsibility
Driving performance is exciting and agile but not at all intimidating – as I found snaking with delight and confidence around tight Sardinian coastal and mountain roads.
Powered by a sprightly 620 horse-power 3855cc twin-turbo V8 petrol engine linked to an even sharper 8-speed F1 DCT automatic gearbox with manual paddle-shift over-ride, the Spider accelerates with super-fast throttle response from rest to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds and to 124mph, where legal or on a track, in 9.7 seconds.
Top speed is 199mph-plus (320 km/h plus) – so let’s call that 200mph with a fair wind.
But while it’s good to know the full power is there if you want or need it, you don’t actually have to exploit it all to enjoy driving this car.
Having had fun tackling serpentine bends with vigour and grip, I was perfectly happy cruising calmly on open roads and feeling the breeze.
It has good manners in towns and villages where slower speeds are rightly demanded. And the locals clearly liked it judging by the waves – and even one gentleman’s salute…
There are five driving modes which you can choose by twisting a small red dial – which Ferrari calls a ‘manettino’ or ‘small lever’ – on the steering wheel: comfort, sport, wet, race or the more extreme ‘ESC off’ which removes electronic stability controls – and is for the most experienced and professional drivers only.
Running on 20-inch wheels, a trick of design makes the back wheels beneath the rear haunches look bigger.
A rear aerodynamic spoiler is managed completely by the car, deploying into three different positions – for low drag, medium and high downforce – and retracting when necessary.
A compact aerodynamic diffuser incorporates the four twin-exhaust tailpipes.
Nifty extras: The 18-way-adjustable heated seats are also available with an optional neck warmer for colder days
Driving performance is exciting and agile but not at all intimidating, says Ray
Described as a ‘two-plus’, it is in reality a sumptuous two-seater with a couple of barely-there half seats in the rear – big enough to squeeze in a couple of children up to 1.5m tall and the occasional adult for emergencies only.
But the rear space will be mainly used for overflow extra luggage, such as a soft bag.
That could be critical if the 255 litres in the boot (with the roof in place) isn’t enough – or when that space is reduced significantly when you put the roof down.
However, a hatch via the rear seat backrests allows larger items to be carried.
Designed as a dual-cockpit – with separate spaces for driver and front passenger – the wrap-around trim extends, integrates, and rises behind the two rear seats.
Ferrari says the idea has its roots deep in the marque’s history with cars from the 1970s.
Steering wheel controls have been refined with improved touch controls on the spokes.
The engine start button is now backlit in red and the track pad on the right-hand spoke has been improved to make it easier to swipe.
The 18-way-adjustable heated seats are also available with an optional neck warmer for colder days.
Roof: The clever soft-top Z-shaped folding mechanism retracts in 13.5 seconds when stopped or on the move at speeds of up to up to 37mph
Will it fit in my garage?
Price: from £210,313
On sale: Now
Length 4,656 mm
Width 1,974 mm
Height 1,306 mm
Wheelbase 2,670 mm
Dry weight: 1,556 kg
Weight distribution 48% front/ 52% rear
Soft-top opening: 13.5 seconds at up to 37mph (60 km/h)
Soft-top composition: 5 layers for sound suppression.
Engine: 3855cc V8 twin turbo
Power: 620 horse-power
Transmission: 8-speed F1 DCT automatic with manual paddle-shift
Top speed: 199mph-plus (320 km/h plus)
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
0-124mph 9.7 seconds
Fuel consumption: circa 25mpg (11.4 l/100 km)
CO2 Emissions: 258 g/km
Braking distance 124mph to 0: 130m
Braking distance 62mph to 0: 32m
Fuel tank capacity 80 litres
Maximum boot capacity 255 litres (with roof up and in place)
Raising the roof
The Roma Spider’s smart low-slung roof comprises five layers of fabric and acoustic insulation which blocks out irritating exterior sounds when driving with it in place.
I did actually put the roof up for a short period.
And very snug it was, too. But let’s face it, you buy a cabriolet with a view to having he roof down as often as possible.
The clever soft-top Z-shaped folding mechanism retracts in 13.5 seconds when stopped or on the move at speeds of up to up to 37mph (60 km/h).
Ferrari says that redesigning the coupé’s tapering, fastback roofline meant modifying the rear screen to incorporate it into the soft top so that it can fold below the tonneau cover when open.
When the soft top is lowered, the active spoiler visually connects with the rear bench and head rests.
For the fabric roof, special weaves were selected in colour combinations designed to highlight the car’s ‘twin souls’ of elegance and sporty performance. The bespoke finish with a two-tone weave draws on a palette of four colours.
An optional ‘technical fabric’ developed specifically for the Roma Spider gives it a shimmering sporty lustre and allure thanks to an innovative weave which creates a striking iridescent red finish designed to further enhance the roof’s 3D surface.
Ferrari said: ‘The automatic fabric soft top guarantees occupant comfort on a par with the retractable hard top system equipping the other spider models in the range.
‘The five-layer fabric dampens wind and road noise, making it quiet even at high speeds.’
Designed to be light yet resilient, when stowed, the roof occupies a height of 220mm, which Ferrari says is the lowest in its category.
An optional ‘technical fabric’ developed specifically for the Roma Spider gives it a shimmering sporty lustre
The car looks gorgeous – whether with the roof up or down – but especially when exposed to the open air, says Ray
Taming the wild wind
One particularly clever element is a patented wind-deflector that pops out from the back of the two rear seats at the press of a dashboard button at speeds of up to 105mph (170km/h). And it works a treat at any speed.
I first drove the car with the roof and all windows down. At a suitably swift speed I pressed the button. Up popped the deflector – comprising the padded back-rest of the rear seats – and rotated into position behind my head.
And hey presto – instant calm as it tamed the previously wild inner-cabin air-flow. Ferrari reckons it reduces turbulence around the heads of taller drivers by around 30 per cent.
After your drive you simply push it back into place manually. The downside is that you can’t deploy the deflector if there are people sitting in the back. But that’s likely to be a rare occurrence.
Now all we need is some more sunshine – that, and a hefty bank balance.
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