Why is the new Ferrari Roma Spider the biggest challenge for the famous Italian supercar manufacturer? Because this car is meant to represent the spirit of La Dolce Vita. And capturing the spirit of a 1960s film in a car is hard. You can’t just add more power or more grip. You need to tap into people’s emotions. You need to bottle lightning – or at least trap it in the glovebox.
Of course, Ferrari has done it in the past with cars like the 250 California and Daytona Spider. But somehow capturing soul and spirit seems increasingly difficult with modern cars. Nonetheless, a return to a fabric roof rather than the hard top of the Portofino is a good start, because it instantly seems more glamorous. It will also furl and unfurl in just 13.5 seconds and at speeds of up to 37mph.
That’s not to say that the Roma Spider is all style and no speed, because with a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8, putting out 611bhp through a twin-clutch gearbox, it is capable of 0–62mph in 3.4 seconds. The steering has the familiar Ferrari sharpness to it and the chassis, despite a 30 percent reduction in stiffness compared to the coupe, remains very capable when you’re on a good piece of road. And we certainly found a good piece of road on Sardinia; quiet and sinuous, with a feeling of being up in the mountains yet within sight of the sea, it was pretty magical. Come along for the ride.