A New Normal : We talk to Dieter Knechtel, President of Ferrari Far East & Middle East

By davidkhoo, 03 August 2020

Singapore – The world may have been in the throes of a global lockdown but that didn't stop us from visiting Roma.

Or rather, have Ferrari Roma visit us in sunny Singapura, that is, in a special one-on-one preview session organised by the local Ferrari dealer, Ital Auto, the moment the "Circuit Breaker" quasi-lockdown was lifted in July.

Global travel has practically ground to a halt, but that hasn’t stopped the Roma from going on a world tour; in fact, it visited Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia just prior to its arrival in Singapore, and was due to head to Thailand after us.

We’re gradually embracing the ‘new normal’, and with the Roma, it seems like Ferrari is too, as it enters the Gran Turismo market for the first time in many decades to offer an understated sports coupe to customers who might not have considered owning a Ferrari before.

After all, with the exception of the Portofino (and California before that), the other Ferraris were aggressive-looking sportscars that were rather in-your-face, so this is a good time as any to bring back an understated, elegantly-styled Gran Turismo like the Roma.

(If you missed our Ferrari Roma drive review for COTY2020, click HERE)

“This is exactly what Ferrari intends with the Roma – we want to target new people who maybe would not have gone for a Ferrari not because it’s a Ferrari, but because the designs were too aggressive, and they prefer to be discreet. The first clients/prospects we heard from had never thought about buying a Ferrari (or a sportscar) before, and this is what we wanted with the Roma. I wouldn’t just think about existing Ferrari clients either, because I would love to see other people coming into the Ferrari fold from other brands,” Mr. Dieter Knechtel, President of Ferrari Far East & Middle East, tells us.

The basic silhouette of almost all front-engined rear-drive coupes is instantly recognisable. It follows a basic template (long bonnet, short rear), which often means there are inevitable similarities between the offerings from Aston Martin, AMG, Maserati, and now Ferrari. Of course, apart from the familiar rear-drive front-engine sports coupes mentioned, the Porsche 911 Turbo is likely to be another target in the Roma’s sights.

(Click HERE to read about the first time we met the Ferrari Roma... in Roma!)

However, it is how each brand stamps its identity on the respective models to make it its own that makes the difference, and there’s little doubt the Roma is a thoroughbred from the stables of the Prancing Horse – and no, it doesn’t look like a Vantage in the flesh.

Dieter explains, “Ferrari is not shy to demonstrate what the Roma is in comparison to what the other customers have driven so far from its rivals and have gotten used to in this price/performance segment. The Roma is an interesting concept for Ferrari – practical and understated luxury without compromising the core values of Ferrari in terms of engine, technology and innovation – because we want to tap into this segment, and we have more to gain here.”

At S$888k before COE and options, the price positioning of the Roma is interesting, because many of the rivals are also around there. Except we give the buyers the option of buying a Ferrari...

Can an ‘understated’ Ferrari like the Roma do well in a market like Singapore, which has traditionally seen favour in the brand’s mid-engined V8 sportscars? Dieter nods, “When I look at Singapore roads, there are so many understated, stealthy sportscars with high-performance engines around, which means there’s a market here for customers who appreciate having the best engines and the latest technology in their cars.”

He continues, “With the Ferrari Roma, they now also have the possibility of driving a fantastic brand without having to explain why they are driving an aggressive looking sportscar. There’s an untapped potential for Ferrari with the Roma in Singapore, because there are a lot of car enthusiasts here who like to spend money on good cars. So I’m hopeful the Roma will find its fair share of prospective clients here.”

PHOTOS Ital Auto

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