I recently went on a road-trip across west Ireland’s wild Atlantic coastline in a cheap, nondescript hire car. The experience, while ruggedly beautiful, made me promise that the next time I had the chance to go on a coastal road trip it would be in something a little more suitable. That opportunity came sooner than I expected. Fast forward three months and I find myself in Northern Ireland road testing the new Ferrari Roma 2022, and here’s my review.
The car in question is a Bianco Italia white Ferrari Roma that’s decked out with all the trimmings you’d expect from a press car. Those extras take the car from the stock price of £172,690 up to £234,000, although if you can find those funds, getting one is another matter. Ferrari has been suffering (if you can say that) from the same issue as (some) high value watches in 2022, in the sense that thanks to supply chain problems the second-hand/grey market value is higher than the retail price.
First impressions of the new Roma 2022 as it sits on the driveway at the historic Culloden hotel are good, very good. It’s much better looking in person than in pictures. It’s low, wide and more aggressively styled than the Portofino it’s based on and reminds me of the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante or new Aston Martin Vantage, while at the same time being incomparable thanks to its Ferrari-ness. No other manufacturer can pull of this sort of effortless elegance on a consistent basis. The rear in particular has a unique style that’s unquestionably lovely, with the quad exhausts and distinctive lights providing a horizontal symmetry that’s immensely pleasing.
Inside the Nero leather cockpit, the car feels reassuringly expensive and Italian, as one would hope. The driving position is comfortable, even on longer drives and the steering wheel, with its numerous buttons and switches, invites you to take hold and get down to the business of driving. Elsewhere, the interior features all sorts of high definition lights, screens, buttons and controls that make this car feel firmly in the future.
There’s a wireless charger in the centre console and while there’s no dashboard in a traditional sense, in its place is a 16inch digital screen, which is controlled via a haptic touchpad on the right hand spoke of the steering wheel. The centre console also controls Ferrari’s ‘infotainment’ system with navigation, media, apple play and everything else you could need. This is the first time a Ferrari has had a user experience this mature and intuitive.
To start the engine, simply tap the touch sensitive ‘Engine Start’ button on the centre of the wheel. Immediately the visceral sound of the engine kicks in. Without sounding too much like a press release, it’s the perfect fusion of modernity and tradition.
The engine is Ferrari’s 3.9-litre V8. Which, when paired with the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, kicks out 620BHP, propelling the Roma from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 198.8mph. That 0.8 matters. It’s a glorious thing and gives you a serious amount of kick regardless of which gear you’re in. Plus, the deliciously raspy note of the engine is intoxicating. I hit peak aural excitement flying around some twisty B roads in second and third gear.
In terms of driving experience, the Roma is a GT that drives like a sports car. It’s 100kg lighter than the Portofino, meaning around the pristine tarmac of Antrim it’s nimble, planted and attacks the apex of corners with zeal. Upon exit in ‘race’ setting the rear wheel drive, front-mid mounted car gives you enough slide to feel like you’re the one in control.
Despite all this, the boot space is ample and it even has foldable rear seats (an extra) and the ride is supremely comfortable thanks to the ‘bumpy road’ dual suspension mode (also an extra). There are five driving modes to choose from in total, selected by what is perhaps the coolest thing on the car: a red anodised aluminium Manettino switch on the steering wheel.
It’s impressive that with a flick of a switch the car transforms from daily driver to something more menacing. There are few cars versatile enough to be both practical and absolutely mental in equal measure.
I confess, when I saw the launch of the Roma 2022 online, I wasn’t blown away. But now I realise that’s because it’s refined good looks didn’t translate well across digital medium. Plus, a static image can never give the experience of living with a car. In the Roma, it feels like Ferrari’s V8 entry level model has really hit its stride.
More details at Ferrari.