Driven

BMW 2 SERIES GRAN COUPÉ / Set­ting the bar for hot-hatch­ery

- Cars · Automotive Industry · Industries · BMW · Italy · Scuderia Ferrari · Ferrari S.p.A. · Rome · Ferrari Roma

Ihave been to Italy sev­eral times in my life, both as a mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist, and as a tourist, but my first trip to the Ital­ian City of Love only hap­pened in late 2019. Al­though barely more than an ex­tended lay­over, I man­aged to squeeze some of the city’s most revered sites into a very short space of time. The an­cient city left me en­thralled, and in­deed, in love.

Much like my ex­pe­ri­ence of the great city, my in­tro­duc­tion to the lat­est work of au­to­mo­tive art from Scud­e­ria Fer­rari was equally fleet­ing, and the sam­pling of it sim­i­larly short-lived, yet my re­ac­tion was pro­por­tion­ately vis­ceral.

The Fer­rari Roma is a beau­ti­ful car, but more than that it is a fas­ci­nat­ing car for var­i­ous rea­sons.

SCULPTED MAS­TER­PIECE

Al­though billed as the new “en­try-level” Fer­rari, the Roma car­ries it­self with such poise, even at a stand­still, that one would think it is the brand’s lat­est su­per­car cre­ation.

That might be be­cause, ac­cord­ing to Fer­rari, the ex­te­rior de­sign draws on the 250 GT Ber­linetta Lusso and the 250 GT 2+2 for its de­sign in­spi­ra­tion. Iconic de­signs from the 1960s in their own right, the 250 GT vari­ants form the ideal bedrock for a mod­ern­day clas­sic such as the Roma.

From the ex­te­rior, the Roma draws at­ten­tion with its retro de­sign, where the body colour grille takes cen­tre stage and is un­like any­thing Fer­rari has done be­fore. Sup­ported by a large chrome sec­tion and pur­pose­ful front spoiler, the Roma grille can also be or­dered in con­trast­ing black.

El­e­vated be­side and above the new grille, the head­lights fea­ture a strik­ing new de­sign – with an LED day­time run­ning light strip split­ting the up­per and lower sec­tions – and ap­pear to al­most blend into the car’s sculpted front wheel arches. Nat­u­rally, the Cavallino Ram­pante takes its cus­tom­ary place above the waist­line and ahead of the front doors.

At 4,656 mm long, the Roma is re­mark­ably ele­gant for its com­pact frame, thanks to the elon­gated front end, and cul­mi­nates in a mas­cu­line yet fu­tur­is­tic rear with its pro­nounced rear wheel arches. The rear lights are a no­table de­sign fea­ture on their own, and the back is rounded off by dual ex­haust pipes that sit on ei­ther end of the rear bumper and are in­te­grated into the black­ened rear dif­fuser.

IN­TE­RIOR ART

Fer­rari has sig­nif­i­cantly upped its in­te­rior de­sign game in re­cent years, and the Roma presents the cul­mi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing the brand has learnt about strik­ing de­sign and lux­u­ri­ous ap­point­ments. The ex­pe­ri­ence be­gins with Fer­rari’s new ‘Com­fort Ac­cess’ doors that open by merely touch­ing a but­ton next to the door han­dle. Once in­side, the dual-cabin con­cept cre­ates the feel­ing of be­ing wrapped in your own space, and presents the driver, in par­tic­u­lar, with the dis­tinct sen­sa­tion that con­trol of ev­ery as­pect of the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence rests with her.

The steer­ing wheel re­tains all of the mul­ti­func­tion abil­i­ties that have be­come part of ev­ery Fer­rari cabin’s DNA. The dra­mat­i­cally slop­ing cen­tre console be­tween the cock­pit spa­ces is a new ad­di­tion, how­ever, and of­fers ac­cess to the elec­tric win­dows to both pas­sen­gers. At the same time, the driver can op­er­ate the gear sys­tem from here.

Al­though the cen­tre in­fo­tain­ment screen of­fers both oc­cu­pants ac­cess to the car’s in­ter­nal sys­tems, the pas­sen­ger has a sec­ond screen em­bed­ded in the dash, from where the cli­mate con­trol and some in­fo­tain­ment op­tions can be ma­nip­u­lated.

POW­ER­ING BEAUTY

Nat­u­rally, the Roma would not be a true Fer­rari without a for­mi­da­ble V8 beat­ing in its chest. The Roma con­tin­ues the brand’s rich her­itage with the same 3.9-litre V8 en­gine that pow­ers the F8 Spi­der (Driven Septem­ber 2020). Pro­duc­ing 456 kW with 760 Nm torque avail­able be­tween 3,000 and 5,750 r/min, we can­not wait to sam­ple the Roma once a test unit be­comes avail­able.

The en­gine is mounted mid-front be­hind the front axle and closer to the cabin. The eight-speed dual-clutch gear­box comes straight from Fer­rari’s For­mula 1 team and grants the Roma a zero to 100 km/h ac­cel­er­a­tion time of a blis­ter­ing 3.4 sec­onds. It will also hurry from stand­still to 200 km/h in only 9.3 sec­onds. Top speed is rated at more than 320 km/h.

LAST WORD

At an ask­ing price of R4,972,000, the Roma is any­thing but an en­try-level car. How­ever, to be so lov­ingly sculpted from a blank sheet into an in­stant clas­sic is a trick that not even Fer­rari man­age ev­ery time. They have with the Roma, though, and it makes me ex­tremely cu­ri­ous to see what Fer­rari’s com­pact sports car fu­ture holds.

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