Somewhere along the line, fast cars lost their elegance. Dial back the clock and the world’s quickest machines were always as beautiful as they were rapid. Grand tourers in the ’60s were long and slender, with the Jaguar E-Type being hailed as ‘the most beautiful car ever made’ by Enzo Ferrari. Supercars of their day, like the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40, prioritised speed above all else, but its low-slung, efficient design looked as good as it drove. Ferrari’s own creations were always known as much for their elegance as their glorious V12 engine notes. But as the 20th century came to an end, car designers forgot curves and replaced them with harsh lines, aggressive vents and active aerodynamics. Today, most performance cars are designed purely for lap times, which often means large rear wings, race car diffusers and angry front ends.
This is where the Ferrari Roma is different. It is not a car that cares about how quick it can navigate the Nürburgring. It looks out of place on track day, or even a drag-race off the lights. It is far too elegant for that. The Roma is more about evoking the feeling of the Riviera, of wind-in-the-hair, cross-country jaunts to the coast where comfort and style are just as important as outright speed. This new Spider variation only furthers the “la dolce vita” attitude of this entry-level Ferrari. It is how the Roma should have originally left the factory when the original coupe was announced in 2020. Unlike some cars, which look bloated and unfinished when the roof is removed, the Roma’s sleek, long bonnet and smooth, curvaceous lines are only improved by going topless.
There is something about a soft top. Many new convertibles favour the hard-top option, with a large clamshell roof giving protection from the rain and wind in place of the traditional canvas. Ferrari’s recent models have gone this route, with the Roma Spider being the first soft top since the F430 was discontinued in 2010. Whereas hard-top convertibles try to mask the top-down look, the Roma Spider embraces it, the canvas roof leaving no doubt that this is a car designed to be driven in the sun. And it’s much improved as a result. Clients can select their roof from a number of different materials, including a denim-like twill weave that mimics high-end Japanese cotton, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of the classic black or tan finish. However you spec it, it can be put up and retracted at the press of a button, in just over 13 seconds and at speeds of up to 35mph, should you get caught in a downpour.
You’ll want to keep the roof down though, if only for the noise. The Roma’s same 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 is present, but the exhaust note has been tweaked to benefit from the open-air driving position. Accelerate with the roof down and enjoy the eight cylinders roaring to a 7,500rpm crescendo, while gear changes pop and bang with an addictive irregularity. The naturally aspirated Ferrari V8 will always be missed, but it’s hard to imagine a turbo version sounding much better.
It’s not possible to picture a better-looking car on sale today. On a test-drive through the winding coastal roads of Sardinia, the Roma is right at home, its long nose happy looking out towards the Mediterranean mid-apex. But it’s equally in its element in the small villages and enclaves that occupy the southern part of the island. The locals smile and wave as it passes through, clearly appreciating the looks of this Celeste Metallic blue model. The Roma Spider has that kind of appeal. It has more pace than you’d ever need with 620hp. But in not chasing record-breaking numbers, and with its softer, 1960s-inspired looks, it’s all the better for it. Could it be improved? This writer would love to see the reintroduction of buttons and analogue dials over haptic touch and interior screens. In a dream world it would have a smaller footprint and the option of a manual gearbox. For now, the Roma Spider might be the entry-level Ferrari, but its movie-star looks, effortless speed and impressive comfort also make it the most desirable.