Ferrari Roma Test Drive Review – Delightfully Bonkers
We do a detailed road test review of the Ferrari Roma.
Car Tested: Ferrari Roma; Road Test No. 1387; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 4,32,14,076/-
Combining the best of practicality and performance, the Ferrari Roma is an ultra-tech supercar
The new Ferrari Roma promises you of the new good life (well that’s what La Nuova Dolce Vita means when translated from Italian, the tagline of this model). The Roma is a grand tourer that looks different but striking, and although the entry-level (if such a word can be used with a Ferrari) model from the Prancing Horse, it still offers you every bit the thrill and aural drama that you would expect from this sports car brand. After having driven the Roma in Dubai late last year, we got a chance to drive it in India where it was quite evident, this might be a sports car which is high on feel and fun but it’s also quite practical.
Exteriors – If I had to put a theme to the Roma’s design, it would be flamboyant understatement. An oxymoron, yes, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Ferrari is envisioning the Roma to be a Grand Tourer, rather than an outright sports car. If you keep that in mind, you will immediately appreciate the design for being understated (by Ferrari’s standards) and more cutting edge than its sportier, more analogue feeling cousins.
To make the car overall more aerodynamic, the door handles and the rear spoiler minimize when not in use
This beast is unmistakably a Ferrari, but it tries to be slick and smooth in places to perhaps not be too attention-grabbing in places where Ferraris are not a common sight. Perhaps this is where people see the Aston Martin parallels.
The front is arguably where most of the conversation is amongst the fans and critics alike. The grille is body-coloured and sits at an angle, rather than being flat, giving out Maserati Quattroporte vibes. This creates an interesting logo situation. Since the grille is pointing down, away from view, Ferrari has placed another logo right in front of the hood, that is better visible when viewed head-on.
Apart from the grille, the headlights are also new. The headlamps integrate very well into the body of the car, and the turn signal LEDs have their little housing that extends beyond the general shape of the headlamps themselves, giving a more bespoke look to them. There is a little black piece at the end of the headlamps that appears to make the headlights and the grille as one whole design element.
Below the grille, we have real air intakes, and a front splitter, sitting low. The splitter adds a lot of character to this car and enhances the sporty look further.
The side profile is where this car really excels. For the Grand Tourer that it is, the car has such a wide stance, and sits so low to the ground. You really have to see it in person to appreciate how mean it looks, especially black. The cars come with various alloy design choices, each of which are 20-inches in diameter. Honestly, all of them look really good, as they should. However, if you are getting the Roma in black, you must get the darker alloy wheels. They look so good!
The door handles sit flush with the car, and really, the only thing that disturbs the flow of this car is the fuel filler door, on the rear fender. Also along the side, you appreciate how many creases and surfaces the Roma has. They work so well together, that you really don’t notice them individually, but if you look, they’re there.
At the rear, we have the most resemblance to older Ferraris. Again the tail-lights have been minimized to a simple line, instead of the circles/rounded rectangles of the other cars. Remember how I said the car tries to be smooth and slick in some places? Have a look at the rear spoiler. What’s that? You can’t see it? That’s because it has been integrated between the rear trunk lid and window. It rises to the occasion when needed, and recedes out of the way to maintain that smooth flow of the design.
Before we move on to the interior, I should also mention, I feel like the Roma is one of the few cars that looks striking in all the colours it comes in. Usually, it’s the red that clicks, but with this car, all colours look great, and even the darkest shade of red looks slick.
Overall, Ferrari has really pushed the envelope when it comes to making a classic design look futuristic, and has succeeded. The car manages to look sharp and modern but at the same time has not lost touch with its roots when it comes to the design heritage.
Interiors – Climb inside the Roma and you are greeted with tech, lots of it. Ferrari is the latest to hop on to the display train and has truly gone to the extreme. The driver’s display is all digital, including the tachometer. The dashboard is dominated by the portrait-mounted touch-screen infotainment.
While the front seats offer excellent comfort, the rear seats are enough to be used in a pinch
Keeping in mind the Grand Tourer ideology, the infotainment sits at a neutral angle so that both the driver and passenger have equal access. The passenger also has their own small screen that can display the stats of the vehicle and more.
We will talk about the displays more, but first, we have to talk about the overall design. The car can come with a contrast coloured trim (mostly red) that outlines the passenger and the driver area, kind of like signifying their own bubble.
The automatic gear selector which is tastefully shaped like a metal gated manual also has a nice swiping animation when a mode is selected. The seats themselves are very well supportive and are comfortable. You can pile the miles on them easily, and they can hold you in your place when you decide to have some fun behind the wheel.
Something that is underrated is the driving position, which Ferrari nails. You sit nice and low to the ground and still have a good view outside, and can make out where the front is.
There are rear seats, but anything more than a short ride for adults would be highly uncomfortable. The seats are essentially well-padded rear storage, let’s put it that way.
The overall quality of the interior itself is top-notch. Everything fits perfectly and is designed very well and ergonomically. You really do feel like you’re in an expensive car when you touch and feel the interior quality of the car.
Now coming to the tech itself. Ferrari knows that at this “entry-level” price point, they will be attracting a lot of young buyers, who expect more when it comes to the tech and the displays in the car. However, unlike the analogue parts of the car, the digital part requires a long-term commitment to the car long after it is sold, in the name of OTA updates.
Moreover, the slick interfaces we have grown accustomed to are a result of the work of major software companies that pour their heart and soul into said software. Hence for Ferrari to match that high level of standards would have always been a tough thing to do.
In this case, the UI is pretty stuttery and the graphics themselves don’t feel too modern compared to the flat, rounded UI that dominates our smartphones.
Ferraris, even the “entry-level” ones are works of art that will far outlast the average car. So I hope Ferrari will tone down the displays and/or switch to a standard platform like the one Stellantis is developing to ensure the relevancy of the tech that is present within the car for years to come. It really would seal the deal for an interior that is as rich as this is.
Performance – At the heart of the matter is the 3.9-litre V8 engine that employs twin-turbos to thrust out 620 HP at a rather high but wide 5750 – 7500 RPM while peak torque of 760 Nm comes in between 3000 – 5750 RPM. This lends it strong acceleration, 0-100 km/hr comes up in just 3.4 seconds while standstill to the double ton takes just 9.3 seconds, keep your right foot pinned down for longer and you will see the Roma hit a top whack of 320 km/hr!
Variable Boost Management allows the Roma to offer crazy acceleration while the dual-clutch gearbox offers slick shifts
Performance is absolutely unreal, to say the least, unreal because you can’t feel those turbos at low speeds since there is no lag whatsoever but power build-up is gradual and linear till there is an explosion of sorts in the top-end where the Roma feels the strongest (the mid-range is nice too). Using Variable Boost Management, Ferrari is able to increase the peak torque in higher gears, resulting in all of 760 Nm being put to the rear wheels in the last two gears, giving one the feel of absolute unending thrust even after crossing the double ton.
The Roma’s award-winning engine is paired to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox which is very fast with shifts and also quite eager to give you a downshift, you can also manually take control of the gearbox using the steering mounted paddles and it will hold the redline, at almost 8000 RPM. Gear shifts are smooth when you aren’t belting it and the soundtrack is loud and engaging too, a bit different from other Ferraris. Fuel efficiency is between 3 to 6 km/l and varies depending on your driving style, the Roma has an 80-litre fuel tank.
Driving Dynamics – The Roma comes with 5 drive modes – Wet, Comfort, Sport, Race and ESC off, you can toggle them using Ferrari’s convenient Manettino switch on the wheel. The modes alter the engine, gearbox, dampers and steering feel, offering a more rapid power delivery with lesser intervention as you go up the modes. With power being channelled to the rear wheels, traction breaks quite fast as you go hard on the throttle in Sport mode, all thanks to the far from perfect roads of India.
Thanks to all-wheel-drive, the Roma has exceptional levels of grip although it does miss out on a nose lift feature
There are a slew of electronics and systems to ensure a surefooted drive experience and everything works beautifully to offer you great handling and an engaging drive experience. The Roma isn’t pinpoint accurate, it doesn’t need to be but it’s still an eager cornering machine with a good amount of grip when you push it around the corners. Body roll is well contained, steering is accurate but not very sharp (more suited to touring than the track) while the brakes are stupendous in their stopping power. We managed to clear speed-breakers without scraping, although we did exercise utmost caution by being ultra-slow and angling the car on the bigger ones, a nose lift function would be a huge relief for our roads. Ride quality is quite good too which isn’t something you would expect from a sports car but the Roma manages to keep you comfortable on bad roads, as long as you curtail your speed.
Verdict – The Ferrari Roma is clearly a very fun yet practical sports car, it looks good, drives and sounds great, handles neatly and rides decently well too. It’s a Ferrari you can use more frequently and is the most affordable model from the Italian carmaker, making it an all-rounder of sorts. The tech might be a bit overdone but once you get the hang of it, there is no going back. This is a Ferrari that gives you the full-fat sports car experience while also being a lot more accomodating, making it well suited for Indian roads.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG GT, Maserati MC-20, Audi R8, Aston Martin Vantage
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