What to Drive in Rome
The stunning new Roma is classic Ferrari.
Let’s stipulate that Ferrari doesn’t build unfashionable cars. I’ll concede that there are a few models that some of the brand’s aficionados are not fond of. When I visited with the past president of the Pacific Region of the Ferrari Club, I suggested that Ferrari’s new GTC4 Lusso was the two-plus-two that could accommodate adults behind the driver and passenger. While he didn’t disagree with the Lusso’s utility, he wasn’t fond of that fastback style. On the other hand, everywhere I traveled in the Roma, it received jaw-dropping admiration.
The Roma’s curvaceous design follows the time honored long, sweeping hood with a sweptback cockpit and short tail. Classic fighter aircraft like the P51 Mustang sported a similar profile. The difference in our Roma’s sculpture and Ferrari’s classic coupes of the seventies are the noticeable shoulders at the rear flanks. They’re a visible expression of athleticism without going the least bit overboard. This understated elegance is one of the attributes that won the prestigious Car Design Award for the new Roma.
Inside the cockpit drivers and right seat passengers face a new world of contemporary electronics. The analog-appearing instruments can become the Apple CarPlay display, mysteriously at times without my urging. There’s a companion screen high in the center stack and further to the right, the passenger gets his or her own row of digital inputs to fool with. The system was so ambitious it felt as if a boot camp might be required to master all the functions. I rather missed the automaker’s good old analog gauges.
It’s impossible to top the mechanical melody of a twelve-cylinder Ferrari and everyone’s newer turbocharged engines have a reputation for a less enthralling exhaust tone. But the Roma’s 3.8-liter, 612HP V8 growled with an enthusiasm that put that supposed defect to rest. I’m sure the car’s JBL sound system was quite lovely, but it was easily outgunned by the high spirited powerplant. And its bite was as good as the bark, launching the coupe from rest to 60 in 3.2-seconds. If you happen upon a deserted Air Force base, the Roma will continue its launch to 124 mph in another 6-seconds to reach a claimed 199 mph top speed.
A few of my blogger friends have speculated that Ferrari would be challenged in the coming era of electric vehicles since the company is so connected to petrol power. After all, they opine that many new EVs like Tesla offer thrilling acceleration, so what can Ferrari add? I’d answer that the famous prancing horse can bring high fashion and panache to the street along with great driving characteristics. That’s what Ferrari buyers want, regardless of what powers the machine.