To be honest, one can never really review a Ferrari objectively. One can only experience it. A year back, we spent some time with the drop-top Portofino. And now, we got a chance to step inside the new Roma. Prices for this new Gran Turismo start at INR 3.76 crore (ex-showroom) here in the Indian market. If you have some spare change, you can spend a whole lot more on accessorising and customising the Roma as per taste. One glance and this mid-front-engined 2+ coupe in my books, looks much better than the Portofino, which it replaces. Yes, this doesn’t get the convertible drama. But the smooth flowing lines and the timeless GT silhouette redefine the modern Grand Touring segment.
On the outside, the Roma doesn’t try hard to look radical. Instead, Ferrari has decided to give it more sophisticated and balanced proportions to attract a broad audience from different age groups. The design language is hugely different from other Ferrari cars currently on sale. But still, it is exotic from every angle you look at it. The brand claims that they have taken design inspiration from the fastbacks of the 1960s. Ferrari has made every bit of the Roma, modern, to fight out in the super competitive, ultra-luxury sports car segment. Compared to any other Ferrari model currently on sale, the Roma is 70% all-new.
At the front, you have a distinct shark nose design with the Prancing Horse proudly sitting on the grille. The fascia also gets a Ferrari badge on the bumper, sleek looking full LED headlamps in a smoked effect and LED DRLs. There aren’t too many vents and ducts on the bumper for air-flow wizardry, and Ferrari has gone the minimalistic way. The side profile is gorgeous, with smooth flowing lines and a curvaceous rear. Door handles are of the pop-out type, so they sit flush with the door, and the overall silhouette is very pleasing to the eye.
The Roma that we spent time with was running on 20-inch rims shod with Michelin tyres. At the back, you have a four-piece LED tail lamp setup and an integrated spoiler that lifts when there is a need for better aero performance. The rear also gets quad exhaust tips for aural bliss. Also, the Roma comes with an elegant and not so overstyled diffuser and parking sensors for those who cannot park a Ferrari safely.
While the exteriors have given more priority to form & elegance over function, once you step inside, the Roma will please the techies because there are plenty of screens here and there to add a modern touch. The interior theme is all-new, nothing like the Portofino, which is being replaced. You will notice a flat-bottom steering wheel with super large paddle shifters, a feather touch button to start the engine on the wheel, a 5-position Manettino to toggle between the modes, two separate buttons on the wheel for turn indicators, carbon fibre inserts and whatnot.
The digital displays include a colour display instrument cluster with multiple layouts to choose from, a vertically stacked 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment and an additional passenger display with full HD resolution to keep the partner busy while you kick that pedal to the metal. The model we were driving had a good mix of black, blue and bright yellow on the inside. Of course, the colours can be mixed and matched as per customer preference. Some conventional bits have been replaced, such as the gear selector section has a toggle control for gearbox modes, power window switches are on the tunnel console, and to open the door, you have to press a button.
Although this is a 2+ coupe, the Roma is strictly for two because the rear seats are too cramped to welcome an adult. Maybe teenagers or small kids can still make peace with those seats. Boot space can gobble a few bags with a 272-litre capacity. It’s a Ferrari, so everything is built around the driver. Quality is top-notch, and ergonomics are excellent too.
If the exterior design and interior cabin did not wow you, the practicality that Ferrari Roma has to offer indeed will. Yes, I used the word practical for a Ferrari. Last year when we sampled the Portofino in Mumbai, we loved how effortless it was to drive in a crowded city. The new Roma does everything the Portofino did, but better.
Powering the Ferrari Roma is a 3,855cc, 90-degree V8 engine producing 620 horsepower and 760 Nm of torque. The engine comes with an 8-speed F1 inspired dual-clutch automatic gearbox and SSC 6.0 (Side Slip Angle Control). While no owner would care about it, the Roma will deliver fuel efficiency up to 9.7L / 100 km. In standard form, this grand tourer weighs 1570 kg, making it lighter than the Portofino by nearly 100 kilograms.
Yes, this is a turbocharged engine, but the brand claims there is zero turbo-lag due to the flat-plane crankshaft. The variable boost management software has been developed for optimum torque delivery. The peak output comes from the 7th & 8th gear. Ferrari derived the gearbox from the SF90 Stradale and reworked it for longer ratios. And while you try to feel all of this on the move, the exhaust’s sound stays nice and mellow when you’re gentle on the throttle. But as soon as you kick the accelerator pedal, if you have opted for the sport exhaust pipes, you are in for an aural treat.
City Drive Experience:
Now driving any car in a city like Mumbai has become difficult, let alone a Ferrari. And while the thought of driving one might seem like an uphill task, the Roma will surprise you with how well it behaves at slow speeds. A little over 40 kmph, the Roma slots in 6th gear and happily keeps crawling at city speeds. There is no drama, no jerks, no hesitation from the motor. As long as you feather the throttle pedal, this Gran Tourismo can handle the Indian traffic rather well.
For a Ferrari, the Roma is unbelievably comfortable, and it even moves over speed breakers without having to crawl in a cross direction. Throughout my drive, I was very impressed by how easy the Roma felt from behind the wheel. But make no mistake, you have to slow down over potholes and also approach steep inclines carefully. The ground clearance, although manageable, doesn’t have a lift option.
Out on the highway, should you feel the need for speed, the Roma will sprint from 0-100 kmph in 3.4 seconds. The car will move past the 200 kmph mark in just 9.3 seconds. Ferrari claims a top speed in excess of 320 kmph for this coupe. Thanks to the monsoon season, we restricted the drive to wet mode. But still, when you get a chance to stretch your leg, the Roma accelerates in urgency. The fast-shifting paddle-shift gearbox also allows you to take full control when all hell breaks loose.
The Portofino did not get a Race mode, but the Roma does. So you can take this reasonably comfortable grand tourer to your nearest race track and burn some rubber to please your soul from time to time. There’s also a host of electronic and mechanical driver aids. But you can read the brochure because explaining all of them would take hours.
I would say that the Roma is the best suited Ferrari for the Indian streets yet. It looks sensuous, it’s roomy, and it also drives comfortably on our far from ideal streets. Yes, this mantle of being a sensible Ferrari would be taken over once there is an SUV with a Prancing Horse logo on sale. But till then, the Roma should be an easy head over heart decision.