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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Like all contemporary Ferraris, the Roma Spider does things that would have seemed space-age back in the day. The engine is a singularly impressive achievement, but always evolving. As on the coupe, the 3.9-litre twin turbo V8 has different cams, a revised catalytic converter and gas particulate filter. A reworked exhaust uses an oval-shaped flap rather than a traditional silencer, and there are more aggressive valve lift profiles on intake and exhaust. The oil pump also receives an upgrade for the Roma Spider, for smoother cold starts.

Thermal efficiency is improved, but it also sounds more soulful here than ever. Ferrari has worked hard to reduce boominess at speed, an issue that can afflict convertibles. It’s not as sonorous as some classic Ferrari V8s, but then few things are.

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How windswept will my hair get with the roof down?

The wind deflector in the +2 area pops into position by pressing a button on the centre tunnel (but has to be pushed back into place manually, imagine that). Ferrari says it ran a lot of CFD and wind tunnel sessions to optimise it. It reduces turbulence in the cabin noticeably, adding to the ‘bubble’ effect Ferrari claims for the car overall. A 5mm spoiler on the windscreen header rail helps here, too.

Hardware and software are perfectly matched. Variable Boost Management adjusts torque delivery to suit whichever gear you’re in, and the Roma Spider punches hard even in sixth or seventh gear. Throttle response is instant, the chassis largely unflappable. Drive modes span Wet, Comfort, Sport, Race and ESC-Off, in the now well-established Ferrari manner. This is backed up by the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer – which adjusts brake pressure on whichever wheel needs it and works only in Race mode – alongside the regular stability system and V6.0 of side slip control.

And what happens if I, er, deactivate the assistance?

Turn everything off and the Roma Spider is as slidey as you’d expect a rear drive car with north of 600bhp to be, but amusing rather than sketchy on the limit. In the dry, at least, on warm tarmac. Top speed is 198mph, 62mph takes 3.4 seconds, 124mph 9.7s. It’s fast.

The gearbox is derived from the eight-speed dual-shift one in the SF90 Stradale. It’s improved in every measure from the previous incarnation: it’s lighter, faster, more efficient, has a more powerful ECU, and is better integrated with the engine software. It also gains a conventional reverse gear. There are longer ratios in seventh and eighth to reduce fuel consumption, emissions and to give the Spider a longer-legged, more GT-appropriate gait. It’s a truly world-class set-up, and the large shifting paddles on the column mean you’re always on top of things even with some lock applied.

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You mentioned the Spider was less fraught than the Coupe…

The steering is linear and less frenetic than on other Ferraris, the ride quality supple and compliant. Although it feels a little soft initially, body control is terrific and the Spider is always interactive and entertaining. Subtle alterations to its suspension kinematics have resulted in a car with even more bandwidth than the Coupe.

The brakes use 390mm diameter discs upfront; they’re potent but we’d like more feel in the initial phase. Our car was wearing bespoke Bridgestones, and this is another Ferrari whose character is notably altered by the rubber it’s wearing. It’s likely to feel pointier on Michelins, especially on British tarmac. It’s amazing how differently these cars can behave on our, erm, challenging road surfaces. It pays to monitor tyre temp and pressures properly.

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