Cars > Encounter

My first dance with a Ferrari

The Roma Spider is the author’s first-ever Prancing Horse experience

Driving a Ferrari is on the bucket list of car enthusiasts. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

As a car-crazy kid, I never really understood the mystique around Ferrari. I was aware of its über-successful Formula 1 campaign and the ultra-desirable road cars it churned out. But I viewed them as something unobtainable, knowing I’d never be able to drive one (or even sit in one).

Yet here I was, standing in front of a sleek, silver Roma Spider.

The author was speechless the moment he saw the car. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

I was at a loss for words as I stared at the gorgeous soft-top convertible. I was feeling all sorts of emotions: elation, confusion, and fear. For a moment, I forgot I was here to cover the car—meaning, I had to take photos and get behind the wheel.

Just a ballpark figure: This car is priced at P29.5 million. Everything in the car has to be paid for, and additional features (like Apple CarPlay connectivity) don’t come cheap. If you wanted something similar to this demo, be prepared to cough up a princely P34.5 million.


Almost everything you see on this car can be customized. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

I usually do research in advance, but this was one car that deserves to be experienced blind.

The moment I was confused by the (electronic) door latches, I knew I was in for a wild ride. This isn’t your traditional sports car.

Ferrari never fails to reference its motorsports roots in its road cars. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

There’s the steering wheel. The motorsport-inspired layout of having everything at a finger’s reach without taking your hands off may look complicated, but trust me, it makes sense ergonomically.

No stalks exist for the turn signals, the high beams, or the wipers. Instead, they’re operated by paddles and toggles all around the tiller, with oversized column-mounted paddle shifters behind it all.

There's something so satisfying about flicking that mode dial switch. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Then, the iconic Manettino switch for controlling the drive modes is prominently featured on the bottom right. It’s very satisfying to use, unlike the engine start/stop “button” found dead center.

Are touch-sensitive controls on a Ferrari a sin? PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

It’s a capacitive switch with only an audible “click” to confirm you’ve hit it. You have to hold it down; otherwise, you’ll put the car in accessory mode. There are also several finicky touch controls, and these control the laggy digital driver’s display and other slightly less important features, like the mirrors and the lights.

Who wouldn't get goosebumps from hearing a Ferrari engine? PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

This killed the mood for me. That is, until I heard the 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 roar to life.


In an instant, all my gripes about how complicated the car was disappeared as I heard that crackly eight-cylinder symphony. The engine was already warm, so I decided to rev it a bit.

No rev limiter. Oh, joy!

Feeling that I might have attracted a little too much attention, it was time to head out.

The gear shifter isn't as simple as it seems. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

But before I could do that, I had to deal with another Ferrari-ism of the Roma. One does not simply drive off in a Ferrari.

The gear selector that resembles a gated shifter on the center console only does four things: Reverse, Auto, Manual, and Launch Control. Much like a race car, you have to go through the gears to get moving. Hold both paddles to engage Neutral. The car will automatically engage Park for you.

Contrary to what you might think, the Roma is a very easy car to drive. Just don't think about how much it costs. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

If you haven’t driven a dual-clutch automatic before, the car doesn’t creep forward like a regular automatic does. You’re supposed to give it some gas to get going.

Under these circumstances, things were a little different. With 611hp and 760Nm all going to the rear wheels, I had to be extra gentle. Granted, we were on the quiet roads of the Sta. Elena golf course instead of chaotic city roads, but I didn’t want to damage a car that would put me and my descendants in debt.

But once I got moving, I was genuinely surprised by how easy it was to drive. With a 360° camera, an ADAS suite, and a generous ground clearance (for its class), leaving the parking area was straightforward.

You'll look good either way with the top up or down. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

I was presented with a smooth and effortless ride from the suspension and with the transmission in Comfort mode as I cruised up and down the back roads of Laguna. With pleasant overcast conditions and the soft top down, it was nothing like the stressful supercar I imagined it to be.

Of course, I could just stick it in Race mode and unleash the true Ferrari underneath, but the 60km/h speed limit wasn’t going to let me do anything more than a quarter throttle. A missed opportunity, but it was time for a driver switch.

There's not much room for activities. Just enjoy the ride. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

Experiencing it as a passenger was just as nice. The anxiety of being a driver disappeared, giving me a chance to admire the gorgeous leather-adorned cabin. If you don’t like this, it’s easy to configure it to your liking, provided your pockets are deep enough.

Apart from the main 8.4-inch touchscreen and another one in front of the passenger seat, there isn’t much to do other than just relax and enjoy the ride.

In fact, those rear “seats” at the back are merely a suggestion, and they become useless with the wind deflector up. And the tiny 255L trunk limits what you can put in, so it truly is a car for two.

A gorgeous car with the top up or down. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

As I returned the Roma, it made me realize a few things.

In this, your worries about the next meeting or the fuel efficiency are blown away by the gentle breeze that’s let into the cabin. With a car this beautiful, your presence will be felt wherever you go. Want to drive fast? It will comply. I guess this is the carefree dolce vita lifestyle they’re talking about.

Want one? It's available officially at Velocità Motors. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

It may not be one of the mid-engined speed demons backed by rabid teenage fans on the Internet, but this drop-top grand tourer will forever leave a mark on me, and I can proudly say that I have driven a Ferrari.

If you want to get one of your own, the Ferrari Roma Spider that is officially launched in our market today is available via its exclusive distributor, Velocitá Motors. If you don’t have the cash, the configurator is the next best thing that mere mortals like you and me can experience.

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.