Ferrari has revealed a new 612bhp V8 front-engined coupé called the Roma, featuring bold styling to try and capture a new audience.
The new machine, unveiled in the Italian capital and set to go on sale next summer with a starting price of around £175,000, shares some underpinnings the Portofino drop-top, but gains all-new styling including active aerodynamics along with a revamped and upgraded powertrain.
Described by the Italian firm as an all-new model, Ferrari commercial chief Enrico Galliera said it represents “a new Gran Turismo”, adding “nobody can question this is a sports car – but it’s also very elegant.”
Galleria said that the Roma has been designed to appeal to potential customers who would “love to drive a sports car or a Ferrari, but might be a bit afraid of one.” He added: “This car will attract people who have never driven a sports car, who drive something less aggressive and now was something a bit more extreme.”
The fifth new model Ferrari has launched in 2019, the Roma is termed a “2+” coupé, which the option for two small rear seats of a storage compartment in the rear.
The Roma features a retro-styled design, which Ferrari design chief Flavio Manzoni said was inspired by classis front-engined Ferraris from the 1960s such as the 250 GT Berlinetta and 2+2. Despite that, Manzoni said the design was intended to look to the future. “We don’t like the nostalgic approach, we like to innovate. The idea was to develop a car that would be perfect to take to the track and then to drive to the opera.”
The Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG GT rival features a bold new-look grille – which Manzoni descrived as a porous surface – at the end of its elongated front bonnet, which Manzonio said was inspired by the simplicity of F1 cars. There are also sharp lines over the wheel arches and a notable bulge in the front bonnet.
The back features a sloping rear window, distinctive narrow lights and quad exhausts. An active rear spoiler integrated into the rear screen deploys automatically at high speeds for optimal downforce, and features three different settings.
The Roma is powered by a revamped version of the 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 engine used in the Portofino drop-top and elsewhere in Ferrari’s line-up, albeit using the eight-speed DCT gearbox that was introduced on the SF90 Stradale.
In the Roma, the unit delivers 612bhp between 5750 and 7500rpm, with 591lb ft of torque between 3000 and 5750rpm, up from 592bhp and 561lb ft in the Portofino. The version of this powerplant used in the recently launched F8 Tributo produces 710bhp. Ferrari claims a 0-62mph time of 3.4secs, and a top speed of more than 199mph.
Ferrari also says it has ‘completely redesigned’ the exhaust system to incorporate petrol particulate filter technology and enhance its sound, and to ensure the Roma meets the latest emissions requirements.
Notably, the Roma has a dry weight of just 1472kg with lightweight options fitted, around 80kg less than the Portofino’s dry weight. The eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox alone weighs six kilograms less than the seven-speed unit in the Portofino, and is claimed to offer reduced fuel consumption, faster shifts and enhanced comfort in urban driving situations. With the Roma’s kerb weight of 1570kg, Ferrari claims a best in class power-to-weight ratio.
As well as the active rear wing, the Roma features the latest version of Ferrari’s vehicle dynamic systems, including the first application of the firm’s latest Side Slip Control. There are five drive modes, and a Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer function that can control the yaw angle of the car by hydraulically adjusting the brake pressure.
The Roma measures 4656mm long and is 1974mm wide, making it marginally shorter and narrower than the Portofino, while both models feature a wheelbase of 2670mm.
Inside, the car features two separate ‘cells’ for driver and passenger, with space for a small rear seat or storage behind each. The driver is separated from the front-seat passenger by a central divider, in what Ferrari calls “an evolution of the dual cockpit concept that embraces the entire cabin rather than just the dashboard as was previously the case”. The steering wheel is an all-new design, and hosts all the main driver settings to ensure constant focus on the road ahead.
The traditional analogue speed and rev counter dials have been replaced by a 16in curved screen mounted behind the steering wheel, while a centrally mounted, vertically oriented 8.4in unit displays infotainment functions. There is also a separate touchscreen for the passenger.
According to Ferrari, the Roma was named after the Italian capital – where it was revealed at a launch event – because it “is a contemporary representation of the carefree, pleasurable way of life that characterised Rome in the 1950s and ’60s.” That implies that the machine will focus more on everyday usability and relaxed driving than being intended as a long-distance grand tourer.
The decision to introduce a new nameplate, rather than just producing a hard-top version of the Portofino, has likely been taken to target the car at a new audience. By turning the car into a “2+” coupé, it can likely broaden its offering at the entry level of its range.
Earlier this year, Ferrari’s marketing chief, Enrico Galliera, told Autocar that the firm would become “less predictable” and said that at least one car it would reveal this year would be “in a new segment”. Ferrari’s current focus is on increasing revenues rather than strictly increasing sales.
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