Classic Archrivalry heats up for 2023
If you’re tired of hearing the same old songs from a guy who runs both a certain EV maker and a certain social media platform, then lend your ears to the popular musical stylings of an Italian rivalry that never fails to produce fresh and catchy tunes. Ferrari and Lamborghini each delivered news in the first quarter that reminds us of their wonderfully different and exciting personalities.
Ferrari leads off in both alphabetical order and sheer beauty with the stunning 2024 Roma Spider. Lamborghini confirms a brace of new hybrids, with two full battery EVs on the horizon. It’s like the Sharks and Jets, with wheels. (It should be noted that Maserati beat both of those marques to market with an EV and promises two more over the next few years.)
Along Came Another Spider
In mid-March, just after the first driving reviews of the Ferrari Purosangue “not an SUV” appeared, Ferrari introduced the Roma Spider, the convertible version of the luscious Roma coupe that arrived three years ago. The Roma coupe not only stunned with its beauty, but also with its striking departure from existing Ferrari design themes. Although created without input from Ferrari’s former long-time design partner, Pininfarina, the Roma took some inspiration from Pininfarina-penned Ferraris from the Sixties, namely the 250 GT Lusso and 330 GTC.
The Roma coupe shared the chassis and twin-turbo V8 from Ferrari’s Portofino M but stepped cleanly away from that model’s creased and sculpted body lines. Since the two cars shared their mechanical foundations, it was easy enough to guess that a Roma convertible might eventually replace the Portofino, which itself had replaced the earlier California.
Ferrari confirmed as much when it unveiled the Roma Spider in mid-March. But leave it to Ferrari to maintain an element of surprise. The open Roma swaps the Portofino’s retractable hardtop for a traditional soft top. Not having to package a folding aluminum roof allowed the Ferrari Styling Centre headed by Flavio Manzoni to give the Roma Spider a smoother tail section than that car.
Spider … Plus Two?
The Roma Spider retains the coupe’s so-called “2+” setup that includes constrictive rear seats for the kiddos or grocery bags. And so, it apparently becomes the first Ferrari called a “Spider” that is not a pure two-seater.
Ferrari points out that the Roma Spider is its first front-engine soft-top production model since the 1969-1972 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider. With both the California and Portofino,
Ferrari had made a big deal out of a retractable hardtop giving the comfort and security of a coupe, so why the switch to a soft top for the new car?
Ferrari says only that the new soft top “guarantees occupant comfort on par with the retractable hard top system.” The automaker also touts a larger trunk. We might also opine that, with the Roma Spider’s top up, everyone will instantly recognize that you bought the more expensive version, whereas the California and Portofino looked like coupes with their retractable aluminum tops raised.
Ferrari says the soft top’s multi-layer construction makes it snug, and that the top raises in just 13.5 seconds at driving speeds up to 37 mph. Adding to occupant comfort are 18-way-adjustable heated front seats and an optional neck warmer like the Air Scarf feature in Mercedes convertibles.
612 Prancing Horses
In other respects, the Roma Spider follows its coupe sibling. The twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8 serves up 612 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque and is teamed to a rear-mounted eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With that much power, it’s doubtful anyone will notice the Spider’s 185-pound greater weight over the Roma coupe when driving.
As on other Ferraris, the Roma Spider’s steering wheel integrates the “manettino” dial that lets the driver select various drive modes to adjust suspension, traction and stability control, electronic differential (E-Diff), and transmission shifting. The price of entry for all this indulgence has not yet been announced, but you can be sure it will be higher than the Roma coupe’s approximate $250,000 starting point before options.
Lamborghini Plugs In
Ferrari last year revealed it would introduce an EV in 2025, which should beat Lamborghini’s EV by about three years, based on recent public announcements. We will see at least three new Lambo hybrids in the near term, however. This spring, the automaker will unveil the successor to the Aventador but in the meantime has revealed its hybrid powertrain. It’s a monster.
The new model, code-named LB744, will pack a 1,001-horsepower punch, a bit more than the 986 hp total output of the Ferrari SF90 Stradale hybrid. The LB744 powertrain combines the output of a heavily revised, mid-mounted 6.5-liter gasoline V12 (814 hp by itself) with three electric motors, one integrated into a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and one for each front wheel.
Electric All-Wheel Drive
The Lamborghini LB744’s hybrid setup is like that in the recently departed Acura NSX, but with 75-percent higher output. As in the NSX, this configuration will give the Lambo electric all-wheel drive without using a mechanical connection from the transmission to the front wheels. Lamborghini is also spotlighting the new car’s carbon fiber chassis to reduce weight.
We’re guessing Lamborghini’s LB744 hybrid will get a bullfighting-related name. Following that car in late 2024, we’ll see a plug-in hybrid as a replacement for the current Huracán series, and then a hybrid Urus. An unnamed EV model will come in 2028, followed by the Urus becoming an EV in 2029. Something tells us the Ferrari-Lamborghini rivalry will