BY SOMNATH CHATTERJEE
You can argue the fact that Ferrari is no longer a car-maker but a leviathan in the luxury industry and has transcended to become a major brand with a cult following. The Ferrari name holds mystique and allure along with the fact that it is currently making the most desirable cars in the world. However, some of its recent offerings could be accused of being all about the science of performance rather than clinging onto the emotional aspect of it.
The car that you see here returns Ferrari to the simpler times of making gorgeous grand tourers with a personality that is not hidden away amongst many layers of science and technology. The Roma is all about Ferrari going backwards to its spiritual roots and embracing the philosophy of “La Nuova Dolce Vita,” harking back to the glorious and carefree times of Italy in the 50s and 60s. It is all about embracing the romance of motoring and also the about the emotional aspect of a car taking center stage.
The Roma, like many of its stable mates, takes its name from the famous capital city and in essence is showcasing the values and the life of the city. The sensuous proportions and the svelte detailing are reminiscent of the gorgeous Ferrari 250 SWB and the other classics. There are no slashes or any ruthless dedication at the altar of aerodynamics as instead it is about delicate surfacing and voluptuous lines.
The shape takes inspiration from the sports rulebook of being a “fastback” and is unlike anything that Ferrari had done in recent years. A brave approach and somewhat different but since the Roma is a new product and aims to attract a new clientele, there is no baggage of having an illustrious predecessor. It is a stunning looking car with a low and wide front-end which has the “shark nose” effect while the curved bonnet and flared arches perfectly carry the design forward. There are no superfluous details as the designers have concentrated on elegance and simplicity. The rear tapers off smoothly as well while the iconic Scuderia side shields hark back to the 50s cars again.
The rear of the Roma showcases its compact proportions and the design here is a newer interpretation of the traditional Ferrari tail-lamp cluster. The Roma does not shout for attention but pulls you towards its complex but beautifully crafted design.
Inside, the cabin of the Roma is a master class in combining the brutal aesthetics of 21st century technology against old-school luxury GT detailing. The dashboard is less at being driver focused and also simpler in this ethos. The interior architecture is changed from other Ferraris as instead it gets full digital dials, a massive central touch screen plus a new steering wheel with a majority of the controls draped on it. That said, your attention would be diverted towards the F1 controls on the center console which reference an iconic detail from past Ferrari’s: the classic gated manual shifter.
Compared to the road racer vibe that you get in the more extreme Ferraris the interior here is a mix of fragrant leather and chromed aluminum.
The drive train is equally beguiling as while on one hand it is a full bodied V8, it is also garnished with turbo-charging and a softer personality. The engine has a muted bark and not a roar; while on the move, the car rides beautifully and is less of an intimidation. The new 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox is smooth while the abundant torque output makes this a relaxed cruiser with sporting pretensions. This is the kind of car that you would devour long journeys with utmost ease: a true GT.
However, this is a Ferrari and that means it also has to perform at a race track. The Roma actually produces more down force than the Portofino (the “entry level” Ferrari convertible) while the 5-stage position manettino uncorks the wild side of the car when provoked. With more than 600 horses on tap, the Roma is the most powerful and fun to drive mid-front-engined V8 2+ in Ferrari history.
At $222,620, the Ferrari Roma can almost be termed as a bargain due to its glamorous styling, approachable demeanor and feral power- when unleashed that is! In short, it is the perfect modern day interpretation of the classic Ferrari GT and a breath of fresh air against increasing our obsession with science and speed.