The Ferrari Roma Spider, the latest model from the Maranello marque, was recently presented to clients at an exclusive event at the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh. This timelessly elegant, high-performance car is a contemporary take on the chic, pleasure-seeking Italian lifestyle of the 1950s and 60s. This spider carries over the proportions, volumes and specifications of the Ferrari Roma’s hugely successful V8 2+ concept, but what makes it so striking is the adoption of a soft top, a solution making a welcome return to the Prancing Horse range on a front-engined car 54 years after the 1969 365 GTS4.
There’s a novel and modern take on the soft-top design that underlines the Ferrari Roma Spider’s exuberant character, with extensive personalisation options that include sophisticated, bespoke fabrics and contrasting stitching. On a functional level, the soft top deploys in just 13.5 seconds and can be actioned at up to 60 km/h. The fact that it is so compact also yields a larger boot and boosts the car’s versatility. A new, patented wind deflector integrated into the backrest of the rear bench can be deployed by a button on the central tunnel, guaranteeing exceptional in-car occupant comfort without taking up any space in the car.
The Ferrari Roma Spider is not just rewardingly easy to drive, it is also extremely dynamic and responsive
The Ferrari Roma Spider retains the Ferrari Roma’s excellent dynamic characteristics: it boasts a best-in-class weight/power ratio thanks not only to its soft top, but also to its all-aluminium chassis and 620 cv V8 from the engine family that was heralded as the International Engine of the Year on four consecutive occasions. The engine is coupled with Ferrari’s universally-acclaimed 8-speed DCT known for its incredibly fast shift times as well as excellent standards of comfort and mechanical efficiency.
The Ferrari Roma Spider is not just rewardingly easy to drive, it is also extremely dynamic and responsive: this makes it the perfect companion on out-of-town weekends and longer journeys alike. Always, of course, with the exhilarating Ferrari V8 soundtrack playing in the background. A number of features are designed to make this car superbly versatile, including a category-topping boot size which includes a hatch via the rear seat backrests to allow larger items to be carried, and standard wireless connectivity by Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay® Wi-Fi. Not forgetting, of course, 18-way-adjustable heated ergonomic seats that are also available with an optional neck warmer for colder days.
Designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre headed by Flavio Manzoni, the Ferrari Roma Spider aims to move the “La Nuova Dolce Vita” concept beyond city limits for elegant, carefree driving ‘en plein air’. This 2+ spider boasts a sophisticated fabric soft top, which is designed not just to maintain, but to enhance the flawless proportions of the coupé on which it is based without modifying that car’s elegantly flowing silhouette.
The steering wheel’s HMI is a further honed and refined version of that seen on the Ferrari Roma
The Ferrari Roma Spider’s cabin has an almost symmetrical layout which produces a more organic distribution of both spaces and functional elements. The result is that the passenger will feel very involved in the driving experience – almost like a co-driver, in fact. The forms have been crafted to create a sculptural volume in which there is a sense of textural continuity between all the various cabin elements.
Created by paring back the volumes and underscored by piping along their edges, the two cockpits are cocooned in a wraparound volume and extend from the dashboard all the way back to the rear seats, organically incorporating the dash, doors, rear bench and tunnel. Thus, the cabin is not designed as a collection of separate sub-assemblies, but defined by elements that develop organically.
The technology adopted is derived from the Ferrari Roma: the digital instrument cluster is integrated with the volumes around it and protected by an anti-glare binnacle which extends out naturally from the dash. The passenger has an optional display that allows them to share the driving information. An 8.4” central display set between the two cockpits and partly floating between the dashboard and tunnel incorporates the other infotainment and climate control functions.
The F1 gearbox controls have been set into a modern metal plate which references the iconic gear lever gate. In the Ferrari Roma Spider, this is in the centre of the tunnel and inclined to make it easier for the driver to reach and see.
The steering wheel’s HMI is a further honed and refined version of that seen on the Ferrari Roma with touch controls on its spokes. The left-hand spoke has indents corresponding to the touch controls to ensure the driver can feel which one to use. The track pad on the right-hand spoke has been improved – there is now an indent that makes it easier to swipe. These solutions help the driver know where the controls are, in line with the “Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” philosophy Ferrari has been adopting for quite some time. The Engine Start button is now also backlit in red to underscore the thrill of the moment the iconic Ferrari twin-turbo springs to life.
Like all Ferraris in the range, the Ferrari Roma Spider delivers instantaneous throttle response
The Ferrari Roma Spider is powered by an engine belonging to the V8 turbo family named “International Engine of the Year” for four consecutive years and also voted “Best Engine of the Last 20 Years” in 2018. The 3,855 cc power unit can punch out 620 cv at 7,500 rpm, the equivalent of 161 cv/l, which it combines with the flexibility of low-end pick-up, thanks to 80% of the torque being available at just 1900 rpm.
The Ferrari Roma Spider also sees the introduction of an important evolution of the oil pump which reduces time-to-pressure in cold starts by 70%, as well as increasing the flow rate at medium revs. The same modification has also been introduced on the Ferrari Roma, demonstrating the company’s commitment to continual research and development.
Like all Ferraris in the range, the Ferrari Roma Spider delivers instantaneous throttle response. This is the direct result of the adoption of specific solutions, such as a flat-plane crankshaft, which is more compact in size with lower rotating masses to improve fluid-dynamics; compact turbines which have a lower moment of inertia; twin-scroll technology that directs the exhaust gases from each cylinder through separate scrolls and increases the pressure of the exhaust pulses for maximum power; and a single-piece, cast exhaust manifold with equal length pipes to optimise pressure waves in the turbine and reduce losses.
The Ferrari Roma Spider boasts Variable Boost Management, a control software developed by Ferrari that adjusts torque delivery to suit the gear selected, delivering increasingly powerful pick-up as revs rise, whilst optimising fuel consumption. As the car goes up through the gears, the amount of torque delivered by the engine increases, continuing all the way up to 760 Nm in 7th and 8th gear. This allowed the use of longer gear ratios in the higher gears, which helps keep fuel consumption and emissions down, while adopting a steeper torque curve through the rev range in the lower gears for a feeling of smooth, consistent pick-up.
The gearbox is based on a dual-clutch oil bath architecture and is derived from the 8-speed gearbox first introduced on the SF90 Stradale. The main modifications made with respect to the latter are longer gear ratios and the introduction of a reverse gear. The new layout and component integration thus optimised the gearbox’s size and its installation in the car.
Every single Ferrari engine has its own particular soundtrack that makes it unique and, of course, the Ferrari Roma Spider is no exception to that rule. In addition to the flat-plane crankshaft, which synchronises engine firing, and equal-length exhaust headers, which equalise the sound, the spider adopted the Ferrari Roma’s entire exhaust line that eliminated the two rear silencers in favour of new geometry for the by-pass valves. The continuous and progressive by-pass valve control underscores the engine sound and performance depending on the driving situation.
The Side Slip Control concept
The goal of the Ferrari Roma Spider’s vehicle dynamics development was to deliver superior driving thrills and handling precision on a par with the Ferrari Roma, thanks to the Side Slip Control concept which uses an algorithm developed by Ferrari that provides an instantaneous estimate of side slip to all the various on-board control systems. This data is then used to coordinate and implement interventions in a rapid, timely and accurate manner.
The Side Slip Control System (SSC), version 6.0 of which is used here, integrates all the car’s vehicle dynamics systems, most notably the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer, active solely in the Manettino’s ‘Race’ position. The FDE is a lateral dynamics control system that rapidly adjusts the hydraulic brake pressure at the callipers on all four wheels consistent with the dynamic situation requiring control. It is designed to make the evolution of the car’s lateral dynamics more predictable through and exiting corners, ensuring the driver’s control of the steering wheel and throttle are simpler and more intuitive. The system flanks the traditional Electronic Stability Control system.
Like the Ferrari Roma, the Ferrari Roma Spider’s Manettino has five positions to make its handling and traction performance even more accessible with the introduction of the Race position. Supported by the introduction of the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer, this position is designed to boost fun behind the wheel.
The soft-top mechanism for the new Ferrari Roma Spider was designed to be light yet resilient
The Ferrari Roma Spider’s chassis is derived from the Ferrari Roma, but features new components, with the rear section inspired by the solution used on the Ferrari Portofino M. The sill, a fundamentally important structural element, was developed specifically for the Ferrari Roma Spider, as were some elements required to install the soft top, and the A-pillar/windscreen surround.
The bodyshell retains the fundamental elements of the Ferrari Roma’s design: the modifications made focused mainly on the rear and on harmonising the Ferrari Roma Spider’s lines so that they retain their elegance with the top down. Exceptional torsional rigidity and beam stiffness figures for the bodyshell and chassis have been achieved despite an increase in weight of just 84 kg for a weight/power ratio of 2.5 kg/cv, which remains at the very top of the high-performance 2+ spider category. This impressive result also ensures that the Ferrari Roma Spider benefits from the same excellent handling and performance as the Ferrari Roma.
This increase was due in part to two factors. Firstly, the addition of the unique integrated wind deflector, which significantly improves occupant comfort. Secondly, the addition of headrests for the rear seats that visually integrate into the tonneau cover design.
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 large rear glass screen is fully integrated into the soft-top geometry. The five-layer fabric dampens wind and road noise, making it quiet even at high speeds. During development, special attention was also paid to reducing the ballooning effect typical of soft tops. The technical solutions adopted by Ferrari’s engineers have thus guaranteed class-leading performance in these areas.
The soft-top mechanism was designed to be light yet resilient: it pushes technical performance limits to new heights thanks to a Z-shaped movement that folds the soft top away in a mere 13.5 seconds and up to a maximum speed of 60 km/h.