Ferrari is, perhaps, the biggest name in motoring. The marque Enzo Ferrari launched in 1947 with the 125 S has grown into one of the most prestigious car brands on the planet, with the prancing horse instantly recognisable to all and sundry. Every time a new model rolls out of Maranello, the motoring world sits up and takes notice. The Ferrari Roma, its new super GT, is the latest to do that.
The GT genre has witnessed something of a resurgence in recent years, with some barnstorming options offered to market by the big guns of the automotive world. Is this a last hurrah for a much feted genre? With the seeming inevitability of electrification upon us, the clock appears to be ticking on the simplicity of the GT; big engine up front, luxury in the middle, storage for a continent crossing adventure in the rear.
Why the Ferrari Roma?
There’s undeniable romance attached to GT cars and there’s an undeniable romance attached to Ferrari. In recent years, however, Ferrari has turned things up to 11, so the Ferrari Roma is rather exciting. It’s Ferrari relaxing a little, in terms of style and character.
Think of the rest of the Ferrari range at present; the 812, 296 GTB, SF90 Stradale, F8. Each is aesthetically aggressive and packing brutal performance. The softer edges and sweeping curves of the Ferrari Roma hark back to previous generations of GT car to have emanated from Maranello. The Ferrari Roma is more 250 than F40.
It’s easy to get drawn in by the Ferrari Roma’s relaxed demeanour. I had my time with the Roma during the Ferrari corse clienti weekend at Silverstone. It is unmistakeably more subtle than some of its stablemates, being more elegant as a result. With a wide range of Ferraris on display, from Monzas and La Ferraris through to F40s and F12s, the Roma is more relaxed by design. But, then, Ferrari doesn’t do things by half.
What’s the Ferrari Roma like to drive?
Looks can be deceptive. The Ferrari Roma is equipped with a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8, producing 611bhp and 700Nm of torque. 0-60 takes 3.2secs and it will top out at a speed you’re never going to get close to reaching on your next jaunt down to the Amalfi Coast. Relaxed? Only in the most Ferrari of ways.
The Ferrari Roma is, like any good GT car, supremely effortless. The way in which it picks up speed is serene and it doesn’t require a heavy right foot to get things moving. Of course, from time to time you’ll want to hear that V8 clear its throat and give you a tune. And that it does; use the paddles to drop the dual-clutch eight speed ‘box (derived from the unit deployed in the SF90 Stradale) down a couple of gears, hit the accelerator pedal hard and there it is.
It adds a real sense of theatre to what is already a wonderful occasion. To accompany that, as you keep your foot in and let the revs rise, a bar on the steering wheel illuminates to suggest that you mind want to consider an upshift.
A click of the paddle and the change is instant. The Ferrari Roma is an incredibly rewarding car to drive in manual mode. I usually prefer to leave things in auto (the car is more intelligent and quicker witted than me, I reason), but the Roma puts you front and centre. And besides, it doesn’t drop down to the most aggressive gear for your intentions in auto.
The steering, however, does feel a bit more relaxed than you might expect from a Ferrari. It’s perfectly accurate without being too sharp or sensitive. An easy car to drive hard and an easy car to sit back and relax in.
What about everyday driving?
Of course, there’s a time and a place for spirited driving. Ferrari predicts that 70% of Roma buyers will be new to the marque. Surely they’ll be wanting to use it on a regular basis? GTs are far more accessible than supercars, far easier to live with.
The interior is well appointed, with a central touchscreen infotainment system for the driver. There’s also a touchscreen menu bar for the front passenger to control their seat, the music and see how fast you’re going. The latter point might not always be welcomed if your partner is anything like mine. The Ferrari Roma sails smoothly along at higher speeds – displaying the truth may draw critical comments! Still, it’s a good feature.
You also get Isofix in the rear seats, although room is insufficient for adults and larger children. The rear seats can, however, be lowered to create through-loading from the boot. Handy if you need to get a couple of cricket bags in for the journey.
The boot is big enough in its own right, though. The weekly shop, weekend bags for the road trips you’ll be doing; all will be accommodated. All that’s left is to plan that trip…
The Ferrari Roma covers ground with remarkable ease. There are five settings on the manatino to choose from: wet, comfort, sport, race and esc off. It wasn’t raining when I drove it, so wet didn’t get a run out. I don’t have a death wish or a desire to pick up a bill I can’t afford, so race and esc off went unused, too.
A neat feature is the ability to select sport, press down on the mantino and the Ferrari Roma will give you ‘bumpy road setting’, i.e. the comfort suspension setting. You can make swifter progress with fewer disturbances from our scarred roads.
Super cars are all well and good, but there’s something special about a GT car, especially a super GT. There are some brilliant ones available right now and the Ferrari Roma doesn’t disappoint.
Firstly, it looks fantastic. It’s sleek, elegant, subtle, yet also possessed of great presence. Secondly, this understated elegance, at least in comparison with other Ferraris, is achieved without compromising much in the way of what you’d expect of a Ferrari – performance and theatre. It looks relaxed, but it’s still super car fast.
Running it through the gears is a joy. It’s a really involving car when you want it to be yet also relaxed when required as well. Hit the top of the rev range, pull the paddle towards you and the torque powers through your back. Horizon hunting is made impressively easy.
The Ferrari Roma has all the ingredients of a classic GT. The powerful V8 up front to get you out of any situation. Luxury in the middle to cosset and deliver you to your destination serenely. Plenty of space in the back for practicalities. It will fit in wherever you take it, too. From Maranello to Margate, the Roma will always look the part.
As a first experience of driving a Ferrari, the Roma was everything I had expected. If 70% of its buyers are first time Ferrari owners, they won’t be disappointed. It has the performance to thrill yet also the accessibility to appeal to a wider audience. The Roma is a Ferrari for every occasion.