It stretches the meaning of 'GT'
We’ll only know whether the Roma is a realistic daily driver once we, er, drive it, but all the signs are this is a GT cocked more towards the aggressive Aston V8 Vantage than the floaty DB11.
For starters, it’s a Ferrari and Ferrari doesn’t really do soft, then there’s the fact that with 70 per cent new chassis components over the milder-mannered Portofino and a fixed roof, Ferrari claims stiffness is in another league… although it declined to put any numbers on it.
(Click HERE to read more about the Ferrari Roma)
There’s the extra 20hp over the Portofino from its 620hp 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8, but more telling is that the Roma gets a five-stage Manettino dial with a Race mode (Portofino only has three) and Ferrari’s latest Side Slip Control system to make drifting gods of us all. A GT car that also shines on track? Sign us up.
It has a boot, not a hatch
Boring, yes, but boots matter. The Roma offers 272-litres of space for your monogrammed matching leather luggage set, or 345-litres if you fold the back seats down.
That’s right, those miniscule back seats (acknowledged by Ferrari by calling the Roma a 2+, rather than a 2+2) flop forward to create a useful amount of space.
Alternatively keep them upright and you can use them to stash stuff you need access to on a long journey… because only very very small people can entertain the idea of sitting back there.
There’s a new key
An interesting key fob is not, we’ll freely admit, the number one reason to drop the best part of S$1m on a new car, but at this rarefied end of the market every little helps.
Judging by the temperature on social media, some like the monolithic simplicity of it, some think it looks like a knock-off Zippo lighter you’d buy at a dodgy market on your holidays, some say it doesn’t matter what we think, all that counts is it helps Ferrari owners show off without having to mention that they drive a Griogio Titanio Roma every five minutes.
Ferrari owners? Showoffs? Never.
The active aero is well hidden
The joy of the Roma’s design is that it doesn’t look like it was shaped in a wind tunnel. The sculpture is there to please your eye, not bully the air. It doesn’t rely on scoops and vents and slashes to create the drama. However, aero hasn’t been ignored entirely.
The lower section of the rear screen, the bit with the Ferrari lettering on it, is actually a moveable spoiler that sits flush with the surrounding bodywork, but can pop up and deploy to three different heights depending on your speed and driving mode. It will also act as an air brake when you really drop the anchors.
That name has a meaning
It means Rome. Obviously. But Ferrari’s decision wasn’t just so they could impress journalists with a swanky launch event in Italy’s capital. No, they chose it because “its signature Italian styling is a contemporary reinterpretation of the carefree lifestyle of the 1950s and ‘60s Rome”.
Hence the strapline plastered all over the launch event: “La Nuova Dolce Vita.” Cue a lengthy presentation about how Ferrari wants you to enjoy the car, take your time, stop in piazzas and sip cappuccinos in tortoise shell sunglasses. Nice work if you can get it.
Its design influences are many
Reaction to the Roma has been split right down the middle – one half celebrating a return to fuss-free Ferrari design and a purer take on the sports coupe, the other calling it a knock-off (delete as you see appropriate) Aston Martin DB10, Jaguar F-Type, Maserati Alfieri, Toyota Supra, Touring Superleggera Disco Volante, Aston DB11, Aston V8 Vantage, Polestar 1, Mazda 3. There’s just no pleasing some people.
Ferrari references the 250 GT Lusso from the early Sixties as inspiration, but we’re seeing more 456 and 612 Scaglietti in the clean surfacing and rounded rear end. Whichever way you see it, it’s got people talking.
You can delete badges
In the spirit of the Roma’s less-is-more philosophy, you needn’t have Ferrari’s Cavallino Rampante plastered all over. OK, you can’t delete all the badges, but you do have the option of removing the yellow shield on the front wings. We’re all for it, much classier.
It’s an unpredictable Ferrari
Incredibly, the Roma is the fifth new Ferrari to be launched in 2019 – we’ve already had the F8 Tributo, the F8 Tributo Spider, the 812 GTS and the SF90 Stradale don’t forget. It’s a cadence Ferrari admits it won’t be able to match in 2020, but the strategy behind this product blitz was “unpredictability”.
Bosses recognised that the routine of replacing a model, then launching the special version was getting too obvious, which is why first the SF90, then the Roma were fast tracked to put Ferrari in new areas of the market and keep customers on their toes.
Top Gear’s suggestion that a Ferrari diesel hatchback would have much the same effect, was met with some resistance.
The interior is surprisingly cohesive
Ferrari is famous for loading a shotgun with buttons and firing it at the dashboard, switches falling where they may. However, with the Roma’s complete interior overhaul it’s built something that feels more cohesive than any other modern Ferrari.
The 16-inch digital instrument cluster is pretty much the largest we’ve seen, while the new 8.4-inch portrait central screen sits neatly atop the high centre console that creates two separate cockpits for the driver and passenger.
Screen is king inside the Roma, and Ferrari couldn’t resist swapping some physical buttons for haptic touch pads on the steering wheel, but overall the balance between jabbing madly at a flat surface and actual, clickable switches is well thought through. No idea whether any of it will work, but it’s the thought that counts.
STORY Jack Rix