The Ferrari Roma is the latest addition to the range of cars from Maranello. It sits alongside the four-seat Portofino convertible and roomier GTC4Lusso T to become the third front-engined V8 Ferrari in the line-up. Clean lines emphasise its elegant shape though the silhouette is far from unique and there are passing similarities to similarly packaged cars such as the Aston Martin DB11 and Jaguar F-Type.
It is more special when you sit into the cabin, though, which features high-quality materials throughout, as you would expect from such a car. There are some unique touches inside like the polished metal panel on the centre console featuring toggles for selecting drive. It mimics the look of the open-gated manual shifters of past Ferraris. An ultra-modern flat-bottomed steering wheel - the same as that used in the Ferrari SF90 Stradale - features capacitive panels that illuminate touch controls when the ignition is on. Ahead of that is a 16-inch curved instrument display that’s crystal clear and configurable. A smaller 8.4-inch portrait-style touchscreen runs the infotainment stuff, and buyers can optionally add a third display in front of the passenger that shows driving data like speed and engine revs.
On the practical side of things, the Ferrari Roma gets two rear seats, which include ISOFIX points, but they are very small. Think of these more as additional storage for bags or coats than passenger space. The Roma also gets a 272-litre boot, which is reasonably good for a car in this category.
How is it to drive?
There are two sides to the Ferrari Roma, which most owners will appreciate. On the one hand, it fills the role of a luxurious GT car very well, efficiently dealing with daily driving. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is new and shifts smoothly, preferring to linger in the higher gears to make the most of the 3.9-litre engine’s 760Nm of torque. Shorter ratios add to the accelerative feel and alter the characteristics in comparison to the Portofino. A new exhaust system results in a different sound though it’s not anti-social, and there is sufficient sound insulation, so even on a longer motorway journey it doesn’t drone a great deal.
The twin-turbocharged engine is, without doubt, the star of the show and comes to life when you switch the car into some of the more exciting driving settings. The Race mode is now available for the first time in a Ferrari GT car and it comes alongside the latest driver assistance electronics to help you have as much fun as possible with up to 620hp. Along with the latest iteration of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control, the Roma gets the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer that applies brake torque to improve handling and explore the car’s performance to a higher limit. Acceleration can be explosive with absolutely no perceptible turbo lag and phenomenal engine speed that revs with a cacophony that transitions from baritone to shrill notes as it races to the redline.
With the engine’s front-mid positioning and lower placement of the gearbox, the handling is far sharper than is expected from such a car. Steering feedback is communicative, and there is ample front-end grip to give confidence to the driver.
When is it coming to Ireland?
While the nearest Ferrari dealership is in Belfast, the Ferrari Roma is due to make its debut towards the end of 2020, with the first customer orders set to begin arriving in early 2021. Order books are now open, and there is a vast amount of personalisation available with this car to tailor it precisely to your tastes.
Any juicy technology?
Ferrari has moved its interface game on through the introduction of a new HMI (Human Machine Interface) that reduces the driver’s need to look away from the road and to take their hands off the wheel. That new capacitive steering wheel does take a bit of getting used to due to the lack of physical buttons, but the main controls such as indicators remain easy to use.
Some supercar aficionados may view the Roma as something of a junior Ferrari, but make no mistake, this is every bit as capable and fast as most people are likely ever to need. Its ability to dispatch the everyday tasks with such ease, while still having the capability to devour the best driving roads, makes this a very appealing prospect indeed.