All you need to know about the 2022 Ferrari Roma

We have the lowdown



By George Kuruvilla

Published: Thu 7 Jul 2022, 5:17 PM

In the many years of being in the automotive industry, never have I seen the Ferrari range as large as it is today. But with every new launch, it seemed like the brand that used to make some of the most beautiful cars in the world was starting to lose its shine. Yes, their cars are faster and have more ducts and wings than ever before, but they lack the simplicity and grace of models from yesteryears.

But now we have this, the Ferrari Roma, to make a course correction!

Principles of Design

The new Roma is a 2+ coupe that embodies the Italian concept of ‘La Nuova Dulce Vita’, which translates to ‘the new sweet life’. Its styling is supposed to exemplify the ‘carefree, joyous lifestyle that came to characterise the Eternal City in the 1950s and 1960s’. And it pays homage to Ferrari’s mid-front engine berlinetta tradition of which the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso and 250 GT 2+2 belong to.

The history is heartfelt, but if a car doesn’t convey that beauty through its lineation, it fails to accomplish its mission. And that is what I was afraid of when I saw the first press pictures of the Roma.

But rest assured! While this car does not photograph well, in the real world where the eyes meet the rays reflected off its body, this car is a beauty. Its bodywork is as bodacious as it gets, and is very different from anything that has come out of the Ferrari stables recently.

The stretched out, longitudinal headlamps that started with the Ferrari Enzo, adopted in almost every model since, have been replaced by chic horizontal ones here. It can be equipped with the extra-sparkly Matrix LED technology for a little extra. At the rear, you get the familiar 4-lamp arrangement, but the luminaires are at the pointy edge of the boot, instead of being round.

Adding to its allure, is its body-coloured front grille, which is both radical and a rarity, and giant 20-inch wheels with a 5-pointed star design, reminiscent of older models. Of course, other styles are available too.

Keeping with its classy outlook, the Roma gets a 3-position rear spoiler neatly integrated into the sloping roofline. But there is no button to up the spoiler from within the cabin, which is a bit of downer. Below this is a quad tail pipe setup that everybody will love. But I can tell you right now that like the Portofino, the exhaust note is all about loud barks resultant of the boost pressure shove, which is different from the screaming naturally aspirated V8 sounds of old.

Overall, this whole look is new for Ferrari and may indicate the direction they intend to go with future models.

And while it won’t be necessary to see the prancing horse emblem to identify the car, you can carry its magic everywhere you go in the form of the key fob, which is an exact 1:1 scale of the badge on the bonnet. Its an easy way to gain attention at a dinner table without saying anything!

The Inner Space

The Roma also heralds the age of Ferrari’s new interior architecture. It’s not a total overhaul, but a great deviation from what we have come to expect. Things like full-grain Frau-sourced leather upholstery and trims of alcantara, chromed aluminium and carbon-fibre add to the ostentatious décor and make it a lovely place to reside in.

As with all other models, the sporty 3-spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel is still very much like an ‘everything bagel’. It has everything a driver needs, including the buttons for the indicators and wipers, thereby eliminating the clutter of stalks. However, it is missing that flashy red starter button. In its place is an ‘engine start-stop’ graphic on the capacitive touch panel, which takes away from enthralling experience of starting up the sonorous V8. And once you do, you also notice everything else is screen and/or a touch panel, which adds to the ‘wow’ factor, but they are a bit finicky to operate.

The traditional analog gauges have been made redundant too. But a digital version of that famously large and very yellow tachometer has been retained on the massive 16-inch HD instrument panel. Unfortunately, with the activation of Apply CarPlay, the whole screen is consumed. Also available is a dedicated 7-inch screen for the front passenger that can display vehicle speed, rpm and gear. Using this, he or she can also make music selections and suggest destinations bringing ‘back seat driving’ to the fore.

The transmission interface is found on a metallic plate that reminds one of Ferrari’s famous shift gate from the glory years. Except this looks to be a cheaper imitation and operating the toggles is a bit cumbersome, even though it requires very little effort.

Ferrari boffins have also made other features digital, like each part of the seat, be it thigh or lumbar support, can be seen and adjusted via the 8.4-inch infotainment screen. This works well. But, on the other hand, controlling HVAC requirements through the screen alone is an unromantic affair. And the air vents look innovative but lack functionality. They don’t float the right volume of air in the right direction.

The drive

Along with the ‘show’, there must be the ‘go’; and expectedly, the Roma is a blast to drive!

First, let’s talk credentials! The twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 engine employed here is a member of the V8 family that won the ‘International Engine of the Year’ four years in a row. It’s the same as that on the F8 but detuned to 620 PS and 760 Nm of torque, which certainly doesn’t sound detuned to me. And unlike American muscle cars, all those numbers do translate to actual speed.

For the best possible acceleration, you can activate launch control (Power Start in Ferrari lingo) via the ‘shift gate’. And even without it, if you bury the right foot deep enough you can almost match the blisteringly quick 0 to 100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds, as I found out the many times I attempted it.

As I racked up the kilometres, I noticed that the transmission has been calibrated for economy and smoothness and it upshifts wherever possible. But if you really need to eke out every ounce of performance, get the 8-speed transmission into manual mode and pull those pleasure triggers yourself. Once you realise this, you’d be ripping down streets at every given opportunity.

Just as quick as you gain speed, you can shed as much in the Roma. The wide 245 mm tyres upfront and 285 mm rear tyres offer great amounts of mechanical grip. This combines with the massive 390 mm and 360 diameter discs – front and rear - to provide superhero-like stopping power. It feels like an anchor is dropped when the left foot takes a plunge.

Also note that the shorter wheelbase does make the car feel alive, twitching about especially while negotiating corners at speed. This encourages you to adjust throttle and steering on the fly…making it truly engaging to drive.

Accommodation and accessories

Let me remind you that the Roma is a 2+ and not a 2+2. The rear seat is just a shelf with two cavities. It’s strictly meant for your friends Salvatore Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton, nothing more. Your human friends may unfriend you, if they’re forced in. At the rear is a boot with about 272 litre of space. Nothing to write home about in terms of size, but the boot floor doesn’t have a lip which makes it easy to slide things in and out.

There is also a whole bunch of accessories to choose from the exhaustive brochure, like a lift kit, athermic windscreen, carbon-fibre everything and matching luggage. And what’s not to be ignored is the extended 7-year maintenance programme.

Verdict

The 2022 Ferrari Roma is smashing indulgence for the senses. It combines the feminine qualities of a beautiful form and suppleness of cabin materials with the masculine qualities of power and noise in one compact and justifiably expensive package. And it loves to dance during spirited runs, making it a pleasure to drive, as all Ferraris should. There are many new techy features of which some don’t operate with efficiency, but the Roma is forgiven simply for being ‘first to market’. However, there is only one cupholder and sharing a single cappuccino may not be everyone’s cup of tea!

wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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