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Ferrari Roma – Driven!

It might have been a wet, miserable rainy Monday in Vancouver but the day was going to be brightened by the prospect of getting behind the wheel of the all new Ferrari Roma courtesy of Ferrari Vancouver. Not the best conditions to test a six hundred and twenty horsepower power Ferrari, or more accurately not the best conditions to  try and use all six hundred and twenty horses. Instead the climatic conditions offered me the chance to put to switch the five speed Manettino into the wet setting for the very first time since I have had the opportunity to test drive Ferrari’s. Every drive in a Ferrari is an adventure.

When the Ferrari Roma first debuted online on December the 13th 2019 I was not sure what to make of the design or its place within the Ferrari model range. Earlier in 2019 I had spent 4 days testing the new Ferrari Portofino, a replacement for the Ferrari California. I absolutely loved my 4 days driving around  Palmdale California in the Portofino.  The design was a huge improvement over the California, but most of all I was shocked by the exhilarating performance of the Portofino. Here was a Ferrari that you could drive everyday, rain or shine and better yet in shine you could convert the Portofino from a hardtop coupe to an elegant convertible. In other words the perfect introduction to owing and living with a Ferrari. So what then was the purpose of the hardtop Ferrari Roma I asked myself?

According to Ferrari the Roma is intended to showcase the “pleasurable way of life (called La Nova Dolce Vita) which graced  Italy’s capital in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The design language of the Roma named after the capital city of Rome is inspire by the Ferrari 250GTO, the 250 GTLusso and the 250 GT 2+2 tourers. On a practical level the Roma introduces new exterior Ferrari styling and the introduction of new interior architecture that will grace all future Ferrari models. You also get a new key for your Ferrari Roma, a square FOB in place of the Red oblong FOB of the F8 or the Portofino. My Roma key had the Prancing horse in silver, but I have seen testers in Europe using keys with the yellow shield and black prancing horse which would be my choice if I could afford the $330,000 Ferrari Roma.

The Roma is intended to be incredibly user friendly and be able to cope with the day to day driving commute, while also possessing the ability to make use of its supercar underpinnings when the driver gets the opportunity to unleash the six hundred twenty horsepower from the 3.9L  V8 twin turbo engine. I did not get to unleash much of this horsepower, but I did experience the smooth ride quality of the Roma as we meandered around Vancouver on my test drive. The ride is certainly more comfortable than the Ferrari F8 Tributo I tested earlier in the year, though one can still engage a damper setting on the Manettino to switch to an even softer road setting. The Ferrari Roma shares its 8 speed Magna 8DCL900 double clutch gear box  with the million dollar plus Ferrari SF90. If I’m honest I am not sure why any car needs an 8 speed gearbox but that seems to be the trend at the moment. You can leave the Roma in auto or you can use the long elegant carbon fibre paddles behind the steering wheel to change gears, either way you are in for a smooth ride.

Stepping away from handling and performance to styling. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder and the Ferrari Roma is an eye catching design. The Roma is a front engine rear wheel drive Ferrari. Seeing the car in person and in liveried in Tour de France blue I realized how handsome the Roma was up close. I love the design from the drivers door to the nose of the car. The line is elegant and gives the impression of smaller car. It is the rear quarter is my least favourite aspect of the Roma, I think it’s because the rear of the car seems very short compared to the front. I do love the double rear light strakes. Maybe spending some more time with the Roma will win me over on the rear design.

The real revolution is not the exterior of the Roma, but rather the new design architecture that is found in the interior of the Roma. For the first time the driver and passenger are purposefully  separated by a flying buttress console which houses an 8.4 inch vertically mounted touchscreen. The driver now beholds a 16 inch fully digital gauge cluster with haptic controls. The main screen is configurable according to driver preference. This is a radical departure from previous Ferrari models and sets the tone for future models. While at first it’s a bit foreign to operate the ease in which you can manipulate the controls and screens makes for a better interface with the operations of the Roma. Even the start button has become a  touch control. Located at the base of the Ferrari Roma steering you simply hold and press an illuminated start/stop logo. For me this is much less evocative than the bright red start button found on the F8 Tributo and the Portofino. I am going to miss that red button. Another new interior feature is the remodelled buttons for reverse, manual and auto and launch. They are now housed on the flying buttress in a silver control column that harkens back to the manual gated shifter of past Ferrari’s. Now however they are only small levers instead of a glorious gear stick. The final piece of digital theatre is for the passenger who gets their own dash mounted strip display.

Interestingly my test car was a pre production model which had a few quirks, namely exciting the car required pulling on a toggle instead of using the main door handle. I had never driven a pre production model before or used the wet setting on the Manetttino of a Ferrari before this test drive.  Adding to the usability of the Roma is a plentiful boot which can be increased with folding down the Roma’s rear seats. Yes the Roma is a ferrari 2+2, though I doubt any full size human will ever inhabit these seats. They were a useful place to store my camera bag during the test drive.

The Roma is full of technology including Ferrari’s side-slip control 6.0 technology. Plus a dynamic Enhancer which controls yaw angle by actuating the individual brake callipers of the car which is a first for a Ferrari GT model. The Roma even has a dynamic rear wing that self activates at high speed. Sadly I did not get the opportunity to engage this feature due to the inclement weather conditions. A noticeable change for me was the weight off the steering wheel which in the F8, the 488, and the Portofino is light and incredibly fast which can take a bit off getting used to, however the steering in the Roma is slower and more predictable . Another component of making the first time Ferrari buyer feel more comfortable behind the wheel.

So what is the purpose of the Roma, I believe it is to introduce new Ferrari clients into the Ferrari family. The Roma is primarily for the first time Ferrari buyer, as well as serving as the introductory model for the new interior Ferrari architecture. In spite of the entry level position one should be left in no doubt this is a Ferrari, that is capable of 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of one hundred and ninety nine miles an hour. I hope to take the Roma out on a dry day and have a bit more fun exploring the performance aspect of this all new Ferrari. Thanks to Ferrari Maserati of Vancouver for giving me the opportunity to have another adventure in a Ferrari.

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