The latest Prancing Horse has left the stables and arrived on the sunny streets of the Lion City. When one thinks of the supercars that make up the marque’s impressive catalogue, the first thing that comes to mind is undoubtedly the impression of beast possessed of great power that must first be tamed before one can bring this force to bear. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Ital Auto, Ferrari’s dealer in Singapore, invited us down to try the Ferrari Roma for ourselves and experience a slice of la nuova dolce vita (the new good life).
An Elegance That Belies Power
First off, we’re not saying that the Roma isn’t powerful. It is. Undoubtedly. However, at first glance, the sleek lines and graceful curves of the Roma conjures feelings of lightness and speed rather than sheer force if that makes sense. Think of the difference between a rapier and broadsword. The former was designed to be light enough to strike with great speed while the latter has more heft to it which gives lends more force to a blow when swung. With its smaller, almost dainty, proportions, the Roma is definitely one of Ferrari’s lighter cars, and this contributes to the way it accelerates handles. But more on that later.
Apart from its sophisticated curves, the Roma also sports an eye-catching paint job. For this particular model, Ferrari went with a more understated colour rather than their trademark Rosso corsa. The dark blue paintjob had the same effect as a classic black tuxedo giving off an air of mystery and allure. But under brighter conditions, the reflective specks in the paint caught the light and came alive, wrapping the Roma in a starry night sky.
The cabin’s interior was similarly understated yet classy. The moment you’re sat within, you become suddenly more aware of the car’s $888,000 price tag. The seats and much of the dashboard were finished in a mix of luxurious full-grain Frau leather and Alcantara while streaks of chromed aluminium and carbon-fibre provided some tasteful highlights.
The classic furnishings of the Dual Cockpit blended seamlessly with the more modern appointments such as the driver’s widescreen display for main instruments, and two additional touchscreens. The radical digitalisation of the Roma is Ferrari’s most extreme to date. Practically all the controls were either an electronic switch or a touch-sensitive surface, apart from the “manettino” driving mode knob. Along with the choice to place more of the car’s instrument controls on the steering wheel, this is all part of Ferrari’s “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” philosophy. Slightly confusing at first, but much more intuitive than contemporary layouts when you get used to it.
A Tame Stallion
Like we said in our introduction, the Ferrari Roma isn’t a speed monster that you have to work to gain control of. Right off the bat, it handled like a dream. As with the other turbocharged cars in the Prancing Horse stable, its throttle response was instantaneous, necessitating a more gentle touch with the accelerator pedal. The 3.9 litre V8 engine with 620 horsepower isn’t terrifyingly powerful, but due to the car’s smaller size and lighter weight, it accelerates fast.
All of the Roma’s innovative features, like new 8-speed gearbox, come together to create a driving experience that is beyond pleasurable. When put in the hands of Sean Hudspeth, a professional race driver and official Ferrari driving instructor who accompanied us that day, the stallion’s full potential is revealed. With the manettino set to “Comfort” mode, Sean showed us how Ferrari designed the Roma to be more than just a sports car. Accelerating and braking was efficient, and oh so smooth. Even making cruising along Singapore’s shorter roads, where traffic lights abound, enjoyable.
Switching to “Sports” mode kicked things up a notch and left no doubt that this was indeed a Ferrari. Yes, we were in good hands with Sean Hudspeth behind the wheel, but for someone who only popped his supercar cherry about 10 minutes prior, speeding round the bends of Vigilante drive was both exhilarating and slightly terrifying. All I could do was try not to dig my nails into the expensive leather upholstery.
On the ride back, we switched over and had our first real experience of la nuova dolce vita. While we weren’t professional race drivers, the ease with which the Roma handled was amazing. Switching lanes and overtaking other vehicles was a breeze. One thing I will point out though, is that the hood of the Roma is a little longer than conventional automobiles owing to the front-mounted V8 engine, so be wary of that stop line.
To conclude, Ferrari’s new Roma is a masterful fusion of super speed and luxurious comfort. With good looks and superior handling, it is a fitting addition to the legacy of the Prancing Horse, embodying the Italian concept of la nuova dolce vita. For more information on the Ferrari Roma, had over to Ital Auto’s website.
All images courtesy of Ital Auto.