Review and road test of the Ferrari Roma
WHEN IN ROMA
Ferrari's beautiful Roma 2+2 coupe will charm a very select group of sports GT customers, thinks Jonathan Crouch
Ten Second Review of the Ferrari Roma
The Ferrari range isn't really complete without a proper GT Grand Touring model, the kind of car the old 550 Maranello was. So this Roma coupe is welcome, sharing much of its engineering, including its V8 engine, with the brand's Portofino entry-level sports car, but offering a little extra elegance and 2+2 rear seat versatility.
It's a nice question to have to mull over. What kind of exotic sports car do you really want? Something track-tamed might sound tempting, but you won't have the opportunity to enjoy it in anger very often, unless you've your own private test track at hand. A more road-orientated sports GT makes more sense then, the kind of thing that was missing from the Ferrari range for a few years for a few years before the arrival of this car, the Roma.
In theory, it's the Italian marque's answer to a Bentley Continental GT or an Aston Martin DB9. But, being a Ferrari, it's also engineered to be an out-and-out super sports car for those times you might want to take on the odd McLaren. Most of the engineering here is shared with Maranello's existing Portofino sports convertible. But it's been delivered with even more elegance and usability.
Let's cover what you need to know here. There's the same 3,855cc twin turbocharged V8 you'll find in Ferrari's Portofino convertible, but here it develops 612bhp - 20bhp more - plus this car is nearly 100kgs lighter. That means this Roma's good for 62mph in 3.4s en route to 199mph, should you be brave enough on a racetrack, an air strip or an autobahn. Drive is to the rear wheels via an 8-speed paddleshift dual clutch auto transmission derived from that used in the brand's SF90 plug-in supercar. This has a broader spread of ratios than the Portofino's 7-speeder and sits lower in the car.
Handling in extremis is aided by the latest version of Ferrari's torque vectoring e-differential. Plus you get the brand's Dynamic Enhancer electronic torque vectoring system. And its latest 'Side Slip Control 6.0' set-up. You're almost certainly going to want to pay extra for Magnetorheological adaptive dampers too. There's quick steering with a very direct ratio. And a manettino controller for various drive modes - 'Wet', 'Comfort', 'Sport' or 'Race'. Suspension is the same as the Portofino at the front, with 10% softer springs at the rear. Apparently, it wheel spins in 5th; go easy in the wet....
Design and Build
To most eyes, this is the best looking Ferrari model for years - maybe since the 458. It's a 2+2 (which its spiritual predecessor the 550 wasn't) but the extra rear seat space has been incorporated within sublime proportions that hold just a hint of visual menace. The way the carbonfibre front splitter and skirts reflect the shape of the bodywork just above is particularly nice. Under the skin, the all-aluminium chassis and body-in-white are primarily shared with the Portofino and the wheelbase is the same. Confusing then, that Ferrari claims 70% of the Roma is completely new.
You feel more inclined to believe that after taking a seat in the completely bespoke - and very lovely - cabin. It gets a dual screen 'human machine interface'; which means a big 16-inch digital instrument display controlled via a haptic thumb pad; and a portrait-format centre stack infotainment screen borrowed from the SF90 Stradale. Other functions are controlled by rather fiddly capacitive touch sensitive switches. The rear seats of course are tiny, but the 272-litre boot would swallow a couple of flight cases and offers a through-loading hatch for longer items. For Grand Touring, you'll probably need to specify the expensive bespoke luggage to make the most of the space on offer because you can't fold the rear seats to extend luggage capacity.
Market and Model
The price? At the time of this review, Ferrari was asking around £171,000, but of course, that's just a starting point. It always is of course with this class of car - it would be with direct rivals like the Aston Martin DB9 and the Bentley Continental GT. But Ferrari has taken fleecing owners with options to a new level here. Would you believe that it costs £1,296 merely to get the brake calipers painted black? And that it costs a scarcely believable £2,400 to get 'Apple CarPlay' smartphone-mirroring added into the infotainment system, the sort of thing you get as standard in the most basic Fiesta.
And it gets worse; £4,416 to get the front seats ventilated, £3,360 to get the boot trimmed in carbonfibre (why?) and £4,512 to get the two bespoke-designed weekend bags that you'll probably want to make the best use of the available trunk space.
Cost of Ownership
You won't expect any Ferrari to be inexpensive to run - and of course this one requires deep pockets. Theoretically, it will return 19mpg on the combined cycle, but if you get anywhere near that on a regular basis, then you're probably not driving the car hard enough. The CO2 return is a bit better than your accountant might have feared (255g/km) but it'll still mean a hefty BiK tax bill.
Ferrari's warranty is only three years, but it does cover you for an unlimited mileage. Servicing will be expensive because parts are very pricey. And if you're tempted to go showboating on track days, remember that tyre replacement costs will be huge. All of which will be forgiven when the time comes to sell; expect exceptionally good residuals; after all, who wouldn't want a well looked after Roma?
This is the Ferrari that Bentley, Aston Martin, Mercedes and Porsche feared that Maranello would one day make. It delivers most of what the super sports GTs from those brands offer, yet delivers it with that almost indefinable dose of Ferrari magic, the kind of thing that no other marque can quite emulate.
Don't listen to people who say that it's merely a fixed-top Portofino. The Roma may share quite a lot with that model, but it's still very much its own car, with gorgeous looks and a quite lovely interior. It's a pity that the asking price (and the options prices) have to be so exorbitant, but that's always been part and parcel of Maranello model ownership. And this Maranello model will be one cherished not only by enthusiasts; but also people who simply want the best and most stylish super sports GT there is.
Ferrari Roma review by Jonathan Crouch