Ferrari isn’t a brand known for subtlety. So, what are we to make of the Ferrari Roma, a car that Ferrari says is built for a buyer that “doesn’t want to show off.”
Although the Roma is based on the front-engine Portofino convertible, this new coupe doesn’t appear to share much with it at first glance. The Roma’s flowing lines recall Ferrari’s GT cars of the 1960s more than the edgier stuff of late. Of course, there are modern elements such as the perforated grille, the slim headlights, and the futuristic taillights. The mix of modern and retro continues inside. While mid-engine Ferraris reduce the center console to a minimum, the Roma has a distinct area for both the driver and the front passenger separated by a massive center section. There are two rear seats, too, which can work for adults on short distances, provided the front seats are not pushed back too far.
Ferrari’s latest ergonomic decisions are present here. The steering wheel contains the turn signals and the small manettino dial to select the stability-control mode. Beyond the steering wheel is a large digital display that can be configured in a number of ways, including a traditional round tachometer.
Firing up the engine requires touching a capacitive switch on the steering wheel. A light touch ignites a raging fire within the 612-hp twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8. Based on the Portofino’s engine, the changes for the Roma include a fatter torque curve and 21 more horsepower. The dual-clutch automatic is an eight speed to the Portofino’s seven.
Driven moderately, the Roma is a superb cruiser that doesn’t really tempt the driver to hunt down and pass every other car on the road. Rather, it invites the driver to relax and enjoy the opulent surroundings and the sweet song of the V-8. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts quickly and unobtrusively, although it is too eager to select the highest possible gear.
When you decide to drive fast, the Roma turns into a serious, extremely powerful sports car. The turbos spool up quickly, and the engine races up to its 7500-rpm redline. Gear changes let off a delightful popping report, and speed builds so quickly that you will constantly underestimate the pace at which you are charging down the highway and through the corners. We predict a 2.9-second time to 60 mph, and Ferrari claims a vague “over 199 mph” top speed.
For this test drive, Ferrari selected a route with unusually low-friction pavement. This turned into an advantage as it allowed us to sample the Roma’s agile yet ultimately manageable handling at the limits of adhesion at relatively civil speeds. Steering effort is lighter than you might expect, but the steering manages to convey the feedback that has gone missing in many modern cars. Turn-in is satisfyingly precise and direct.
If a Ferrari appeals to you but you have found the current lineup to be a bit immature and overtly aggressive, the Roma may be just right. Priced at $222,620, it is only slightly more expensive than the Portofino. As a grand tourer, it will compete with the similarly priced and equally mature Aston Martin DB11, Bentley Continental GT, and possibly even the Porsche 911 Turbo. We enjoyed it on its Italian home turf, and we think it’ll be just as much at home in Orange County or Miami Beach.
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