The brilliant coupé is a hard act for a heavier, less rigid convertible to follow, even when it looks as attractive as this. And yet…

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Whenever a new mid-engined Ferrari coupé is launched, you can set your watch to the inevitable launch of the convertible version. But the front-engined V8 Ferrari Roma appeared in 2020, and then… nothing.

In some ways, that made sense. The Roma was positioned as the keen driver’s alternative to the Ferrari Portofino. It was a coupé with a more focused suspension tune, but also styling that was more subtly elegant, less shouty and more of a personal pleasure.

The convertible roof can be raised and lowered in 13.5sec and at speeds up to 60kph (37mph)

Anyway, you can forget most of that, because in comes the Ferrari Roma Spider, making the Portofino largely redundant. It’s a good thing that the latter is going off sale soon. You’d almost think Ferrari planned it like this.

Mind you, the drop-top Roma is still a slightly different proposition from the Portofino. The headline change is that Ferrari has abandoned the bulky, heavy, folding metal hard-top and gone back to a canvas roof.

Like Mercedes has with the latest Mercedes-AMG SL, Ferrari can do this because modern soft-tops are a far cry from the leaky tent you would have found on your Triumph Spitfire in the 1970s. The Roma’s is made from eight layers in total, has a glass rear window and folds up and down in a mere 13.5sec at vehicle speeds of up to 37mph. It’s available in six colours, including a special technical weave.



02 Ferrari Roma Spider FD 2023 oversteer front

The engineers say that cloth roofs present some engineering challenges they have not grappled with for a while, because fabric has a mind of its own when it folds. And despite the lighter roof construction, the Roma Spider has still gained a fair few kilograms from its extra strengthening. Increased material in the sills, the rear structure, the hood mounting points and the A-pillar have added 84kg compared with the coupé. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s actually 11kg heavier than the Portofino M.

Nevertheless, the packaging benefits have given the designers an easier time. While the Spider loses some of the coupé’s elegance, this is still a stunningly beautiful car, and although the whole rear end has been redesigned, it follows the coupé’s lines remarkably closely. The roof has been designed to do the same, successfully rendering any pram comparisons inappropriate.

Bridgestone developed a version of its Potenza Sport tyres specifically for the Roma, whereas the Michelin and Pirelli that are also available and which the Coupé launched with, were carried over from the Portofino.


09 Ferrari Roma Spider FD 2023 dashboard interior

In practice, the Roma doesn’t lose much in the way of refinement, whether roof up or roof down. In the latter case, that’s thanks to the clever new wind deflector (see separate story), which makes the Roma one of the most serene four-seat convertibles at speed, even with all the windows down.

The rest of the interior is largely the same as in the coupé, cocooning you with its lovely materials and high centre console topped by an infotainment system best described as ‘acceptable’ and ‘having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto’.


The capacitive steering buttons on the steering wheel now have ridges to guide your thumbs. They still don’t work particularly well.

That phone mirroring used to be displayed in the gauge cluster, but has now – very sensibly – moved to the centre screen. The menus in the gauge cluster can still be confusing and frustrating to navigate due to the capacitive buttons on the steering wheel – think Volkswagen Golf. They now have ridges to guide your thumbs but still don't work particularly well.

The Roma Spider retains the Coupé's rear seats, though they now have a very acute backrest angle. Like in many 2+2 coupes, they're more useful for storage than carrying people, but the good thing is that in a pinch, you can.

The boot only loses 17 litres of volume, reducing to 255 litres. However, that is with the roof up. To put the roof down, you need to put down a divider which makes it a much lower space. The photographer's camera bag had to travel in the back seats and so might your luggage if you're planning a two-up weekend away.

Shooting the breeze in a Ferrari

12 Ferrari roma spider fd 2023 rear seats wind deflector 0

When you’re hired as an aerodynamicist at Ferrari, you probably dream of designing high-downforce wings and splitters for the SF90 XX. Kudos to the selfless souls who instead applied themselves to design the wind deflector on the Roma Spider.

Four-seat convertibles can suffer from bad turbulence and buffeting with the roof open, so most come with an awkward tent-like contraption that needs to be manhandled into place. Instead, in the Roma, the backrest of the rear seat pops up at the press of a button and can be easily pushed back with one hand.

It looks slightly dopey – as though you’ve left some storage lid open – and like it shouldn’t work, but it really does. It largely seals off the rear seats, but the portal sucks a bit of air down, to gently mix it with the air in the cabin instead of letting it run wild.



18 Ferrari Roma Spider FD 2023 long lens performance

With no turbulence pestering your ears thanks to the wind deflector, you can hear the engine better, which isn’t always a good thing. Let’s get this out of the way first: although we’re glad that the Roma remains unburdened by hybrid gubbins, the way this engine sounds is the least impressive or engrossing part of the Roma – spider or otherwise.

The 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 is the same as in the coupé, just with some different exhaust tuning to compensate for the way vibrations resonate differently through the altered rear end of the spider. Owing to the V8’s flat-plane crank (where one cylinder on one bank always fires simultaneously with one on the other), it just ends up sounding like two angry four-cylinders – all farty exhaust noise, including plenty of contrived crackling at low speeds. The noise tightens and hardens at high revs, with more of a sense of a free-revving high-performance engine shining through, but there’s no question the powerplants inthe Mercedes SL or Lexus LC have more charisma.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re Toyota or Ferrari, a speed limit warning system is now a legal requirement. The difference is that in the Roma Spider, there’s one button on the steering wheel to turn off the ADAS systems that you don’t want and keep the ones that you do.


There’s certainly no knocking the way it performs. With 612bhp and a 0-62mph time of 3.4sec (the same as the coupé), it’s hard to imagine how anyone could need or want hybrid augmentation, other than perhaps for on-paper bragging rights. As in previous applications of this engine, the electronics limit torque in the lower gears to give it a more progressive character. As a result, it doesn’t feel as instantly explosive as some. Use all of the nearly 8000rpm at your disposal and there’s no question this is a seriously accelerative car, though.

The rear tyres – a Bridgestone Potenza Sport specifically developed for the Roma, unlike the Pirelli and Michelin the coupé launched with – take the power staggeringly well. This should be quite a lairy car, but it absolutely isn’t. On the warm, dry roads of our Sardinia test route, at least. As I worked my way through the manettino settings, I wondered when the 285-section rears would start to struggle.


19 Ferrari Roma Spider FD 2023 front cornering sea

Comfort is the everyday baseline, and unlike what you might expect from the archetypal sports car manufacturer, the Roma Spider really is comfortable. The seats are firm, initially making them slightly uninviting, but they’re adjustable in every which way, and at the end of a long day I found myself far less achy than in many an SUV.

The ride likewise. All the suspension hardware is carried over from the coupé, with only the settings of the magnetorheological dampers tuned to gel better with the slightly floppier body and cruiser brief of a convertible. The roads in Sardinia are bafflingly well kept, so didn’t ask very many questions of the suspension. Even so, after a few miles, I realised I just wasn’t thinking about the ride: it’s simply so well controlled and harmonious.

Talking of the loss in rigidity, you’d be hard-pressed to notice it. The engineers say the spider loses 30% of static rigidity, the sort of naked measurement you’d get if you welded the car to a jig and tried to pretzel it. However, it ought to be pretty much the same where it matters. And I’m minded to believe them, because apart from the slightest bit of random harshness and shimmying over the worst road repairs, there’s very little about how the Roma drives that suggests its structure is compromised.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Toyota or a Ferrari, a speed limit warning system is now a legal requirement. The difference is that in the Roma Spider, there’s one button on the steering wheel to turn off the ADAS systems you don’t want and keep the ones you do.


The eight-speed dual-clutch ’box even likes mooching in auto mode – maybe a bit too much, as it’s very reluctant to kick down. Better to take control with the paddles, the response to which is instant.

Drive a bit harder and you quickly run into the conservative traction control setting of Comfort mode. Moving up to Sport isn’t the jump I expected – slightly firmer, a bit more noise, but the car’s character remains fundamentally the same.

Race is where things get exciting. You get more noise (noise is the word – let’s not go there again) and the gearbox thumps home upshifts (unnecessarily uncouth, but many people seem to like that kind of theatre). More interesting is that the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer kicks in. It’s effectively a combination of torque vectoring by braking and a more permissive stability control setting.

The Roma lacks the CT-off mode of some spicier Ferraris that lets you take some sideways angle, but Race is still very well suited to the road, allowing the car to tighten its line on the throttle without ever letting things get so wild that it requires great skill to keep the car on the road.

00122 Ferrari roma spider fd 2023

The steering has the same ratio as in the coupé, but the engineers say the softer suspension and body mean it’s slowed down in practice. It’s still Ferrari steering, so you wouldn’t call it anything other than quick, but it doesn’t require the familiarisation that we noted with the coupé. While it’s not fizzing with feedback, there’s enough to combine with the unburstable front grip and a small but perfectly checked amount of body roll to tell what’s happening and give you massive confidence in the car.

Enough to go all the way and twist the manettino to the end, which disengages the ESC and releases the Roma’s balance. There’s still massive traction, and when it’s breached, the car rotates fairly quickly, but the quick steering gives you the tools to catch the oversteer, making it exciting rather than scary.


20 Ferrari Roma Spider FD 2023 rear static

The Roma Spider is a brilliant sports car that almost happens to be a convertible. You make very few sacrifices in terms of comfort or dynamics. Ferrari charges an entry-level MX-5-worth extra for the spider, but that’s probably neither here nor there in this segment. The Roma might just have gained something by becoming very slightly softer.

Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.