Change remains a constant in life. Evolution continues to sweep through every aspect of our lives as we seek and navigate new and uncharted waters. As humans, we are diversified in our approach to life, so we are more than likely not to like the same things. It is this very essence that car manufacturers continue to churn out new cars, creating new segments, all the while remaining mainly true to the company’s ethos. Maranello’s Prancing Horse firm, Ferrari, continues to bring groundbreaking models to the fore. The Roma, the subject of this piece, is no exception to the rule.
Named after the capital city of Italy, Rome - Roma, Latin for Rome - is Ferrari’s take on the classic GT brief - a comfortable 2+2 seater that drivers can use daily. You see, much like most brands, Ferrari is also carving new segments to net a new market and buyer profile. It all makes sense because not every Ferrari owner wants a thorough-bred, chomping-at-the-bit sportscar that is primarily a weekend toy. Indeed, this is where the Roma comes in, and its design is also telling of its overall purpose - a form-follows-function-type scenario.
Design-wise, the model has similar proportions to the Aston Martin Vantage. In itself, it’s a very cool-looking thing, so it is understandable why similarities will be drawn between the two. Following in the footsteps of previous grand tourers from the marque, such as the 250 GT of the 50s, the Roma has elegant proportions that are, dare I say it, not justified by the images you see before you. The long bonnet, stubby rear and broad rear haunches give it a baroque pose reminiscent of powerful GT sportscars of yore.
Cabin appointments, in particular, are mightily impressive, with no tacky design architecture, just simple, elegant and high-quality tactile materials utilised throughout. It is one of the most digital cockpits I have encountered in a Fezza in recent times. Still, everything works so seamlessly that even the Manettino system on the steering wheel is a cinch and intuitive to the driver. Of course, being a 2+2 seating configuration, the rearmost seats are only suitable for small children or can be used as additional luggage space if necessary.
Nestling under that long bonnet in a midship configuration is the award-winning 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 that puts out 456 kW and 760 Nm through a slick 8-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, propelling the rear wheels. It is an excellent engine with mounds of torque and a free-revving nature, belying its turbocharged nature. Comfortable in demeanour, true to the form of its GT underpinnings, the Roma is the everyday Ferrari that you can jump into and make an impromptu sojourn from Johannesburg to Cape Town on a whim.
The sumptuous suspension is what makes this car. It manages to iron out road imperfections with great aplomb that you can easily drive this car daily should the mood take you. Of course, being a Ferrari, performance is paramount, and the Roma is no exception to the rule. Sport mode is more than sufficient to extract performance out of this Fezza, making it one of the easiest Ferraris to drive spiritedly. And driven spiritedly is one of the Roma’s not-so-obvious repertoires. It continues to reward and delight the keen driver with a playful chassis and direct steering. Even in Sport mode with all traction aids, the rear moves about under hard acceleration, a testament to that aforementioned wall of torque. The engine’s linear power delivery suits the nature of the Roma, pulling firmly and cleanly right from the get-go with a very sharp throttle response to boot.
Carbon ceramic brakes remain incisive and confidence-inspiring, allowing you to modulate the brake pedal as you wish without any qualms. An easy car to drive quickly, there is still a ferial side to it should you taunt it enough.
Using the Roma daily should be a reasonably effortless with boot space that's sufficient for two overnight bags or, indeed, the obligatory golf clubs bag on your way to your favourite fairway. As mentioned, you can use the rear seats as additional luggage storage space, making this one of the most practical modern-day Ferraris until the Purosangue roars into the market in 2023.
And fuel consumption? Well, if you have to ask it's probably not the car for you but Ferrari claims that it'll drink in the region of 11 litres per 100 kilos of driving – not that thirsty then...
There may have been some reservations and criticism levelled at the Roma, but having spent some time at its helm, this was grossly unfounded. Yes, the styling may not strike a chord with all, but the Roma is a mighty fine GT in the true sense of the word and the fact that it dons the famous Prancing Horse emblem places it in the coolest stable of the segment.
Images: Donovan Marais