Ferrari unveiled the Roma Spider at an exclusive event at the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh earlier this month. The Maranello marque’s newest convertible possesses similar proportions, volumes and performance specifications as its “2+” GT coupé sibling, but comes with a strikingly beautiful new soft top.
Like the Roma, the Spider combines timelessly elegant design with high performance to deliver a contemporary take on the chic, pleasure-seeking Italian lifestyle of the 1950s and 60s. The Roma Spider is also the first front-engined convertible in 54 years to bear the Prancing Horse, after the 1969 365 GTS4s.
The Ferrari Roma Spider has retained much of the dynamic characteristics of the Ferrari Roma. Despite an increase in weight of 84 kg compared to its sibling, the Spider boasts a weight-to-power ratio of 2.5 kg/cv. The increase in weight has been minimised thanks to the use of lightweight components, which include the soft top mechanism and an all-aluminium chassis.
Like the Coupé, the Roma Spider is not just easy to drive, it is also dynamic and responsive. This makes it an ideal companion for out-of-town weekends and those long road journeys. And there is the added bonus of the exhilarating Ferrari V8 soundtrack playing in the background while the top is down.
Speaking of power, the Spider has the 620 cv V8 from the engine family that was awarded the “International Engine of the Year” on four consecutive occasions. The 3,855 cc power unit can punch out 620 cv at 7,500 rpm, the equivalent of 161 cvpl, which it combines with the flexibility of low-end pick-up, thanks to 80% of the torque being available at just 1900 rpm. This engine is coupled with Ferrari’s acclaimed 8-speed DCT gearbox, known for its incredibly fast shift times and excellent mechanical efficiency.
The Ferrari Roma Spider’s chassis is derived from the Ferrari Roma but features new components. The rear section draws on solutions used on the Ferrari Portofino M. The sill was developed specifically for the Spider, as were some elements required to install the soft top and the windscreen surround.
A number of features are designed to make this car versatile as well. It has a generous boot of 255 litres with the top up. There is a hatch via the rear seat backrests to allow larger items to be carried. Wireless connectivity by Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Wi-Fi comes as standard. The ergonomic seats are 18-way-adjustable and heated, with an optional neck warmer for colder days.
Ferrari Roma Spider’s USP is, of course, its distinctive fabric soft top. It was designed not just to maintain, but to enhance the proportions of the coupé, without modifying that car’s elegantly flowing silhouette. 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. The roof cover appears as a body-colour band running across the base of the roof. It effectively divides the carbon-fibre active spoiler from the roof and rear screen. When the soft top is lowered, the active spoiler visually connects with the rear bench and headrests.
The Ferrari Roma Spider debuts a new technical fabric for its soft-top roof. Developed specifically for this car, it gives the car a sporty yet sophisticated allure, while its innovative two-tone weave also creates a striking iridescent red finish that further enhances the roof’s 3D surface. According to Ferrari, this soft top delivers occupant comfort on par with the retractable hard tops equipping the other spider models. During development, special attention was also paid to reducing the ballooning effect typical of soft tops.
The soft-top mechanism was designed to be light yet resilient with a Z-shaped movement that folds the soft top away in a mere 13.5 seconds. It can operate safely up to a maximum speed of 60 kmph. When stowed, the roof occupies a height of just 220mm, amongst the lowest in the category, and that, in turn, ensures a roomy boot.
A great deal of attention was lavished on aerodynamic comfort on board with the top down. Particular focus was given to minimising both turbulence and wind noise in the cabin. The solutions selected by Ferrari’s engineers were driven by the need to simplify the transition from top-up to top-down driving. This was achieved by introducing automatic movements for the surfaces tasked with creating an aerodynamic ‘bubble’ effect over the cockpit for comfort.
The first of these was the addition of a 5mm nolder on the new windscreen header rail in the area of the flow separation. The second was the development of a patented automatic wind deflector that can be deployed by the driver without any need to stop the car. If the driver wants to deploy the wind deflector, a button is pressed on the tunnel and the backrest of the rear seats, in the absence of rear passengers, will rotate into position behind the front occupants’ heads.
In this configuration, the airflow that would normally be drawn into the cabin from the rear of the car is deflected. Thus, creating an area of relatively still air around the occupants and reducing still further the turbulence around the heads of taller drivers.
The deployable wind stop’s permeability was optimised by a transverse aperture at its centre which, thanks to its calibrated angle, acts as a real aerodynamic duct, while its shape in the plan view is tapered at the sides. These two geometric characteristics combine to deflect the most highly energised flow entering the cabin, well away from the occupants.
The duct at the centre of the wind stop ensures that part of the flow entering the cabin is deflected downwards towards the rear seat, forcing it to mix with a slower flow. This means it loses most of its energy, effectively reducing turbulence in the cabin. The result is an extension of the bubble around the occupants and particularly their heads. The shape, angle and permeability of the deployable wind stop are all crucial to achieving this objective, and were developed thanks to a combination of CFD simulation and many wind tunnel sessions.
The adoption of a fabric soft top and its indirect impact on the car’s bodywork geometries provided the starting point for the car’s aero development. The roof and its curvature had to retain Roma’s low drag, while also generating efficient downforce. The stylistic approach taken for the Spider’s exterior centres around a clean design and a symbiosis between its various elements.
The designers sought to preserve the minimalist elegance of the car’s forms by removing any vents or superfluous decorative features. In fact, the launch configuration does not even include the Scuderia Ferrari side shields. Engine cooling is provided by the perforated surfaces of the grille, which is finished in the same colour as the bodywork. Thus, rendering it seamless with the styling.
The modifications to the Spider’s bodywork also required new mobile spoiler geometry at the rear of the car’s upper body. Similar to the Coupé, the spoiler is designed to extend and retract as a function of the car’s speed, as well as the longitudinal and transverse acceleration. As a result, the Spider has downforce in handling situations and is aerodynamically balanced at high speeds.
The Spider’s long rear overhang, which is a characteristic of the Ferraris of the 1950s and 60s, has been re-proportioned here, resulting in a low, compact volume which hugs the rear axle. The dimensions of the tail light assembly has reduced, and is completed by a compact aerodynamic diffuser that incorporates the fence and exhaust tailpipes.
As in the Roma, the Spider’s cabin embraces the dual cockpit concept, comprising two separate modules that wrap around the driver and passenger. These modules extend from the dashboard all the way back to the rear seats, organically incorporating the dash, doors, rear bench and tunnel. As a result, the cabin has an almost symmetrical layout in which the passenger feels involved in the driving experience.
The steering wheel’s HMI has new features not seen in the Coupé. The left-hand spoke has indents corresponding to the touch controls so the driver can feel which one to use. The trackpad on the right-hand spoke has been improved with 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 when the Ferrari twin-turbo springs to life. With the top down, the Ferrari Roma Spider is set to take the La Nuova Dolce Vita experience to a whole new level.