Ferrari describes the Roma coupé as having a timeless design that models “the carefree, pleasurable way of life that characterised Rome in the 1950s and 1960s”. Picture: SUPPLIED
Ferrari describes the Roma coupé as having a timeless design that models “the carefree, pleasurable way of life that characterised Rome in the 1950s and 1960s”. Picture: SUPPLIED

Italian supercar powerhouse Ferrari has either read the mood perfectly with its entry-level Roma V8 grand touring (GT) car that could crush Aston Martin’s struggling Vantage, or it has misread it dreadfully.

It normally gets these things right, but in a fast-car world increasingly bedazzled with electrification, the mostly new Roma uses a twin-turbo V8 engine for motivation, and nothing else.

No mild-hybrid technology, no plug-in electric car, no super capacitors; just more of the same supercar stuff it became famous for. Instead, it’s being pitched as the New Dolce Vita, with the idea attempting to link the new machine with the 1950s Italy that was the capital city’s last golden era.

It will begin European deliveries in about May 2020, priced at just beyond €200,000.

There’s a sharp, low nose; ultra-thin LED headlights; a long hood; and a roofline that tapers down into a very low tail, with an active, three-position spoiler that is integrated into the rear glass. And it will be fast, with 0-100km/h sprints of 3.4 seconds from its rear-wheel drive setup.

Ferrari also claims the 456kW, 760Nm V8 powered machine will have a top speed beyond 320km/h. And it revs to 7,500rpm.

That’s going to create a problem for the Aston Martin, whose Vantage sits in precisely the same segment, powered by a twin-turbo Mercedes-AMG-sourced V8 engine. The Aston has a slightly longer wheelbase than the Roma, but is shorter overall and about 50kg heavier. It also generates 375kW of power, which was considered to be a useful number until the Roma arrived.

The Roma is a child of the convertible Ferrari Portofino though Ferrari claims the Roma is 70% new. It shares the same wheelbase as the Portofino with its 3.9l, twin-turbo V8 engine sitting up front, but behind the front axle line.

The key differences to the Portofino include a chassis that has been uprated to live with Ferrari’s latest skid-control systems, and an all-new, eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission that’s both lighter and faster-shifting than the Portofino’s seven-speed unit.

The 2+2, which can theoretically carry people in the rear seat, is an attempt to deliver an elegant, beautiful car that draws its philosophy from Ferraris such as the 250 Lusso or the 330.

The interior is the biggest leap forward for the brand, giving it a huge change in philosophy with a clear, two-pod concept and an all-new steering wheel.

The only potentially tacky part of the design is what Ferrari calls the “cancelletto” (#), which apes the classic, chromed, open-gate manual gearshift of pre-2000s Ferraris to host the far simpler system that governs the new dual-clutch transmission.

It has also received a boost in active safety, which can double cheerfully to deliver extra speed for the driver.

The Roma is expected to go on sale in SA in the first quarter of 2020 at a price to be confirmed.