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Ferrari’s Gorgeous New Grand Tourer Is a Drastic Change for the Brand


December 15, 2019 Cars By

One glance is all it takes to know the new Ferrari Roma isn’t quite like any car the Prancing Horse has ever put out before. Look back as far as you like in the brand’s history, and you won’t find another two-seat gran turismo with a V8 engine up front.

Granted, that’s not to say the Roma is brand-new from the ground up. That V8 engine is a familiar one: it’s the same basic motor that’s won numerous awards in cars like the 488 GTB and Portofino, here dialed in to make 611 horsepower from 5,750–7,500 rpm and 561 pound-feet from 3,000–5,000 rpm and connected to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The wheelbase is identical to the Portofino, as well. (We wouldn’t go so far as to say the Roma is a Ferrari Portofino Coupe, but you wouldn’t be too far off-target to suggest that.)

Something the Portofino doesn’t have, though: the Roma’s new looks. The car represents a whole new step into the future for Ferrari’s design language, blending classic forms like the ’60s-style roofline and long, flowing hood with modern aspects like razor-blade-thin LED headlamps and tail lights and a body-color egg-crate grille. Some aspects of the car bring to mind the new SF90 Stradale hybrid supercar; others summon thoughts of the 250GT from five-plus decades back.

Likewise, the interior is a giant step forward from the Portofino (and practically every other current Ferrari). The tall center console and dashboard create an arch effect that ensconces driver and passenger, while new haptic feedback touchscreen controls join the physical buttons on the steering wheel. The instrument panel is the brand’s new fully-digital unit, while the shift buttons are designed to be reminiscent of the gated manual shifters of yore — features also shared with the SF90 Stradale, and likely to soon become found across the Ferrari line. An auxiliary passenger’s side touchscreen of the sort found in the 812 Superfast, the GTC4Lusso and others is also present, to better terrify your shotgun rider when whipping along at twice the legal limit.

The Portofino does have a feature the new car doesn’t have, however — back seats. While the hardtop convertible has the token rear seats that earn it the “two plus two” title, the Roma only has spots for two humans of any size. (The carmaker calls it a “2+,” suggesting perhaps that the extra space is best suited to something like cats.) Still, odds are good the folks driving around in it won’t mind too much. They likely have another car with extra seats parked in their garage, too.

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Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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