I would never call the Ferrari Roma a “retro” sports car. This would downplay and deny the forward-looking aspect of its design and its 612 horsepower output. But the Roma summon Ferrari ghosts who haunt the more traditional branch of the family tree: The shamelessly pretty front-engined GTs that dominated Enzo’s dreams, before the Ferrari 308 and its mid-engined descendants – through today’s F8 Tributo and Spider – bent into it Spotlight and in the preponderance of sales.
This is what made the Ferrari Roma so attractive on a two-day tour of New York State and the small town of Connecticut. Not every Ferrari has to scream, not when you can whisper as seductively as the Roma. With the bonnet out here, the cabin in the back, the underwater snout, the meringue-tipped fenders and the hull of a Ferrari museum (grace, 250 GT Berlinetta) the Roma let the audience knock like an Italian screen siren. It also left a trail of cars when I upgraded its 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 with variable torque management software to balance power in each forward gear. Ferrari claims that 100 km / h will arrive in 3.4 seconds and 124 km / h in 9.3 seconds and the car will feel even faster. The factory sets the top speed at “over 199 mph”. Let’s just call it 200.
Ferrari expects the Roma will be the first Ferrari for the majority of owners. But if you dismiss this “entry-level” Ferrari (starting at $ 222,420) as a parvenu – a criticism that stuck to the first California convertible – the Roma could beat you stupid. Beneath the handsome face and gracious GT personality, there’s a ferocity and focus just waiting for a driver ready to unleash it.
The proof began with a quick run up the Hudson River, where the Roma torque of 561 pound-feet was strong, with no trace of the old-school lag. The Roma could happily drive in fourth gear all day, from 40 km / h to three-digit. An afternoon shower cooled both the Roma and their pilot off. But even without choosing the wet mode of the five-position Manettino The Ferrari’s 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires got stuck. The steering is easy, but direct and full of feeling. The brake pedal had a hint of too much squeeze for my taste before black painted calipers took a hard bite, but those binders are still tremendously strong.
The combination of strictness and relaxation of the Roma became clear on a tour of the glass house pictured above in New Canaan, Connecticut. The heavily exposed Glass House was built by the late superstar architect Philip Johnson and for decades was the storage space for his desk, a modern classic that seems to blend in with the pastoral 49 hectare landscape. Johnson’s collection of paintings and sculptures from the 20th century is in the outbuildings. Parked in front of the house, the Ferrari made its own formal minimalism look like home, and we couldn’t resist another tour.
My partner Paula, a former design and auto journalist, slightly preferred the low-key Roma style to that of boastful, shovel-happy supercars. I suspect that many women will feel the same way. On this design front, some have argued with the “monolithic” grid of the Roma: Ferrari wanted to remove all superfluous decorations and closed off grille sections that are not needed for cooling. Paula said the grille reminded her of a sports trophy that certain sports car types might take as a compliment. But no complaints with the LED lighting, including sleek, almost miniaturized taillights set into a concave deck like gems.
This Roma coupe is definitely more than a shine for a Portofino convertible, as the number of 70 percent new parts confirms. The two-plus-two Roma has even more luggage space – our three large bags fit in the trunk alone – and cool things. This includes 21 more horses (with a revised flat crankshaft), a wider torque curve, and an eight-speed gearbox compared to the Portofino’s seven. Additional features include vortex generators up front, a deployable rear spoiler, and the latest Side Slip Control 6.0 that allows seasoned riders to drive sideways while still performing epic. Step into the five position Manettino Switch to Race, and the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer will hydraulically adjust the individual brake pressures to further regulate the yaw angle.
The latest dual-clutch eight-speed transmission, first used in the SF90 Stradale hybrid, reduces weight by 15 pounds and offers 15 percent faster upshifts and 21 percent advantage in downshifts. It’s a spectacular, challenging Porsche PDK for the world’s best automatic title, paired with the indispensable option of a carbon fiber steering wheel, the rim of which flashes LED warnings when the redline approaches at 7,500 rpm. The gear change takes place via well-known paddle shifters with rabbit ears and carbon fiber as well as via unknown console sliders made of light metal, which refer to the earlier shifters from Ferrari. Ferrari also claims higher fuel efficiency, though that requires a shift strategy where the car relentlessly shifts into higher gears. The comfort mode in particular could be better than “EPA Modus “as the Roma persistently choose seventh gear at only 35 or 40 mph. (The fastest solution is to put the Ferrari in manual paddle shift mode.)
What is striking is the flowing, wraparound cabin with shaped recessed seats, which are ideal for designer luggage or shopping opportunities, not so much for people beyond the toddler scale. The optional right passenger display from Ferrari keeps wingmen and women in play with performance indicators and allows them to control audio and navigation functions. Paula, like almost everyone who hits the screen, got a big kick out of it; Whether that impression is worth $ 5,608 is up to you.
Only one thing breaks the romantic spell of Ferrari: a human-machine interface that goes overboard with trendy capacitive, haptic feedback controls – the kind that everyone uses on various Cadillacs, Hondas et al. Despised. This includes an engine start / stop button on the steering wheel, which is actually not a button. Worse, the concealed thing didn’t always work the first time. Personally, I want my six digit Italian GT to come to life every time I hit a switch. I also accidentally triggered the voice control button on the steering wheel several times.
A central 8.3-inch screen that resembles a freestanding tablet leans into the console and is covered in carbon fiber and Ferrari script. It is operated via a steering wheel touchpad, which actually works better than, for example, the cumbersome chiclets of the MBUX units from Mercedes. But there is no volume control, no analog air conditioning or mirror controls and no steering wheel levers for indicators or windshield wipers. The latter fits every Ferrari of the previous year. I especially missed the F1 physical fantasy of chunky red metal Manettino Switches, replaced by a haptic dial, the pastel displays of which appear to be a precious mite: A video game simulation of a Ferrari controller when we already had the original.
The different driver assistance systems of the Ferrari also seem a bit childish for this type of car. As I pulled back into the parking lot, the Ferrari was chirping at me like a bed-wetting Lexus, and for my life I couldn’t stop it. The Roma’s 16-inch configurable driver display is also fully digital. This includes a TFT rendering of the classic yellow central rev counter with animated shadows, while the red pixelated needles determine their course. But I have to say: once the learning curve was overcome, the Ferrari’s screens and subsystems were generally easy to manipulate and more intuitive than in many of the cars on this strip. And some of the digital presentations are very nice. Some may see them turn to the tech bro-first Ferrari crowd, including newly minted millionaires or billionaires. But Ferrari seems to be saying, “It’s the 21st century. Get used to something.”
The arguments faded on two perfect vacation days, including one final explosion to Brooklyn on my personal two-lane racetrack, better known as New York’s Sawmill River Parkway. Cranked up to race mode, the Roma raced through the gears and let out exhaust noises and growls when shifting up at full throttle. The traffic ahead moved right as that blue flash approached, and the Ferrari took advantage of it and played Italian ballet at breakneck speed. If this thing is a grand tourer, get in touch with me.
Now back to earth. In these classes, expensive options are inevitable and owners barely blink. But come on Ferrari: from a fairly reasonable starting price of $ 222,420, the Roma added nearly $ 95,000 in options to land at $ 314,890. The highway robbery included approximately $ 10,000 for advanced driver assistance systems that are standard or optional on cars that sell for $ 22,000. $ 8,800 for carbon fiber door sills; $ 6,075 for a surround view camera; and Apple CarPlay, which kind of costs $ 4,200. Fortunately, it’s not that all of these things are essential for a car that is sure to end up as a weekend toy (or worse, a long-term garage investment). A buyer could definitely skip them without further consideration. The same goes for the roughly $ 32,000 carbon fiber add-ons, though the rear diffuser looks really cute for $ 11,812. If I put myself in the well-coiffed headspace of a Ferrari buyer, I’d definitely look at the passenger display, Magneride dual-mode chassis ($ 5,568), the gorgeous leather headliner ($ 4,219), and the Scuderia Set Ferrari Outer Shields for Dancing Pony ($ 1,856).
What the hell let’s sew these horses onto headrests for just $ 1,266. Even in a car as elegant and restrained as the Roma, a little Ferrari punch is hard to resist.