On the road: The New Ferrari Roma
On the road: The New Ferrari Roma

Ian Lamming provokes envy behind the wheel of the new Ferrari Roma

BATTLES rage across the world’s car parks, schools, golf clubs, spas and supermarkets, unnoticed by mere mortals who drive ordinary cars.

But the driver of the exotic cabriolet knows exactly what I mean, though he hasn’t seen me yet. He struts towards what I will only describe as a German sports car of considerable pedigree. He preens his ageing feathers as he drops the top and he bristles with joy, like a male peacock marking his territory as he fires the noisy beast into life. Look at me, look at me…and people did for a few seconds.

In that moment of joy for the car park exhibitionist I have slipped into my coupe and unleashed the might of its twin turbo V8. The cacophony literally blows the wannabe clean out of the car park and the rival’s crest falls abjectly to the floor. I swear I see a pet lip on his visage as he drives testily over the gravel drive. He’s been done, well and truly trumped, by a Ferrari which didn’t even have to try. In ya face buddy, though weirdly I don’t feel the need to gloat.

That’s because this particular Ferrari, the Roma, must surely be the most beautiful car on the road today, a vehicle, even in its relatively subdued colour, attracting attention like no other. So, later on, a jogger actually stops, stares and nods his approval; two little boys crossing the road gawp and tell their mum ‘look, it’s a Ferrari, it’s a Ferrari’; and the world of motoring goes all polite and courteous letting the Roma through, on countless occasions, with a friendly if deferential wave. The power of the Prancing Horse knows no bounds and this comfortable-in-its-own-skin nature soon rubs off on driver and passengers alike – yes passengers, it’s a 2+2, so you can share the love.

I’m a child of the 60s and my Top Trumps of the time reflect that, so it’s no surprise then that the Roma’s glorious, classic, minimalist lines appeal to my eye. It is style personified with a timeless elegance that few can match. Its silhouette is perfection and the ideal way to cheat the wind. Overhangs front and rear are short and the body is smooth and uncluttered. From the front and rear it is sculpted with headlamps and taillamps being no more than eyebrows so as not to intrude.

In the grille there is real menace and on the tail the merest hint of a spoiler, but everything is understated, subtle and just plain beautiful; even the 20in alloys look modest in their arches.

The interior has moved on a generation. It still has the gloriously sporty cockpit of a racer but the curved dashboard and instruments are digital. The leather-bordered transmission tunnel is slim an elegant, the gearbox operations reduced to the tiniest of chrome controls – ‘R’ for reverse, ‘M’ for manual and ‘L’ for launch control. The vertical touchscreen is neat and tidy, intuitive and easy to operate. It feels hi-tech and there are touchpads on the steering wheel too to activate a host of functions. The virtual dash, in my favoured setting, shows a large yellow rev counter, digital speedo, some trip computer info and a satnav map. Then there’s a wonderfully tactile carbonfibre steering rim featuring F1-style LED lights at the top. Perfection again, as are the large carbon fibre paddles for manual changes.

Roma is a mighty beast – twin-turbo V8, 610hp, 200mph top speed, 62mph in just 3.4 seconds. At just over 1.5 tonnes it is light too so the power/weight ratio is off the charts. It’s a proper super car, make no bones about it, with electrifying helm responses, immense grip and stupendous handling.

Yet it is just as happy being languid, composed, unrushed. The immense growl from the V8 is compulsive, alluring, with an aural quality that never offends. It is comfortable in town with no hint of a protest from the big eight or awesome eight-speed transmission. It is so torquey that it is happy to crawl along at 30mph in top gear which is astounding to behold.

Equally impressive is the ride which never approaches jarring, is incredibly compliant and even has a ‘bumpy road’ setting to cosset occupants further when the tarmac degrades. It may sport a rearing stallion on the badge but it is a complete pet pony in town.

Every time I drive a Ferrari I’m smitten but the Roma must surely be the best yet for its sheer good looks and dynamics. And as my shame-faced friend in the German pretender would have to admit it has won the war of the car park with ease.

Fact File

Ferrari Roma

Engine: 3.9 litre V8

Power: 610PS

0-62mph: 3.4 secs

Top speed: 200mph

Combined MPG: 21

Transmission: eight-speed auto

CO2 g/km: 255

Price: £166,296