This is the new Ferrari Roma Spider, and it looks quite tasty. #Understatement. On Thursday it was shown to an exclusive crop of Ferrari customers in El Badi Palace in Marrakesh - here are the pictures. Its maker points out that this is its first front-engined soft top since the 365 GTS4 Daytona 54 years ago. The hood opens and closes in 13.5 seconds at speeds up to 37mph, and, as you can see, the company's moved away from the folding metal roof design of the Portofino, which helps the looks and the kerbweight. Mind you, don't expect it to be noisy as a result. The Roma Spider’s roof has five layers to insulate its occupants from the outside world when it's up. It also uses a new material with a two-tone weave on the outside that's available in an optional iridescent red finish.
The Spider mirrors the interior theme of the coupé, separating driver and passenger into their own compartments with the high-set centre console that swoops down from the middle of the dashboard. The driver’s instrumentation is all digital with various graphics to choose from, you can add an optional screen for the passenger to use, and in the middle is the 8.4-inch infotainment screen that handles the climate controls. The one interior difference between coupé and Spider is the steering wheel. It still has the much-derided touch buttons on the left-hand spoke and the trackpad on the right, but there are indentations that make it easier to feel what you’re pressing. Presumably, this design will eventually appear on other Ferraris.
There are no change to the mighty turbocharged flat-plane crank 3.9-litre V8 though; it still produces 620hp and 561lb ft – both considerable amounts. The difference is you’ll hear it more clearly howling away at 7,500rpm when the hood is down, through an exhaust system that ditches the rear silencers entirely and controls the sound via bypass valves. Actually, there is one change to the engine. A new oil pump. Only Ferrari would mention that in a model announcement and point out that it ‘reduces time-to-pressure in cold starts by 70 per cent, as well as increasing the flow rate at medium revs.’ It also said that the Roma coupé gets the modification now, too.
The Spider has the same active rear wing as the coupé that deploys automatically in three stages depending on the aero loads required. Now, you can absolutely guarantee that Ferrari would’ve mentioned if the Spider maintained the same level of downforce as the fixed head car, but the fact that it says the Spider’s downforce is ‘comparable with the Ferrari Roma’ coupé means, clearly, it hasn’t. Does that really matter? Probably not. The main thing is that the aero remains balanced front to rear, which apparently at all times it is.
Arguably, the most important aerodynamic property for a convertible is not to mess up your hair, and on that score, there are a couple of different solutions that help. One is a 5mm nolder along the top of the windscreen rail – and a nolder, I learned on the 296 GTS launch, is something that breaks the flow of air but it's essentially a little ridge. The second is an electrically deployable wind deflector, which as far as I can tell is the back seats. Yes, you read that correctly; the rear-seat backrests rotate to a horizontal position behind the front occupants’ heads. Presumably, this feature doubles as a useful ejector seat if the kids won’t stop arguing in the back.
There’s a lot of talk in the press release about how the wind deflector works on fluid dynamics level but, truthfully, I didn’t really understand any of that. The crux is that the turbulence is down ‘30% compared to previous 2+ spider applications.’ Let’s assume that refers to the Portofino and not the Daytona – I don’t imagine they bothered much about the buffeting 50-odd years ago.
As you’d expect, the Spider has gained some weight over the coupé thanks to the extra structural components in the chassis. Most notably that's in the sills and A-pillars, and the rear section of the car was ‘inspired by the solution used on the Ferrari Portofino M.’ The overall increase is 84kg. Is it practical? Well, there’s 255 litres of boot space with the hood up, which is more than a DB11 Volante offers, but if you want proper practicality from your swanky convertible there’s always the Bentley Continental GTC.
Ferrari won't reveal the model mix it's expecting of coupés versus convertibles, but it's going to be relatively high we would suspect. Price? It won't tell us that, either, but the difference between a 296 GTB and GTS is £36,950, so don't bank on any change from £200,000 for a Roma Spider. And first deliveries? It did tell us that, sort of. For left-hand drive markets it's Q4 of this year, but when it comes to right-hand drive variants it's 'sometime after'. With those looks, it's worth waiting for - almost regardless of how long it takes.
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