La Bellezza necessaria

Beauty is necessary. There couldn’t be a more appropriate title to this Escape that we could think of. The Ferrari Roma is the sort of car that is the definition of “standing on the shoulders of giants”: its identity is firmly planted in an era when Italy produced the most gorgeous Gran Turismos in history but it’s a car that represents the future for Ferrari. After its unveiling, its design became an instant success. There’s a deep and satisfying pleasure in looking at and driving in an elegant and practical 2+2: with such a car there are not any excuses for being a guiltless hedonist.

Design-wise, the Roma is quite a masterful creation. It’s no new statement, but the design shows how much good taste can make a difference in the world we’re living in today. The design of the Roma is a smooth and well-calculated, well-proportioned contraposition of volumes: it’s an athlete dressed in a sporty dress. The muscles are volumes which have been polished smoothly with a calibrated minimal intervention. The Roma is not dramatic: it’s intense. Think of her as a well dressed lady in a Chanel’s tailleur that speaks elegantly to anyone. 

Flavio Manzoni’s language can be seen as a very interesting and radical evolution of the much acclaimed Pininfarina design that graced Ferraris since 1951, when the first 212’s were bodied by the Turinese coachbuilder. His sense for musical proportions and architectural harmony presented us with an object which is desirable. The Roma is the future for Ferrari, but at the same time blends in with the finest Italian Gran Turismo tradition of the 50ies, where Ferrari did not have side shields and were ordered by people of taste in the most gorgeous colors. It’s one of those rare cars that allows you to discover that Ferrari produces other colours other than red and reminds you that the side shields have always been an option and never came as standard, as many believe.

The Roma is the car that forces you to discover proper Gran Turismo roads right in your backyard: in this case the wonderful Gardesana road, where its many sights of the Garda lake, right were Gabriele D’Annunzio lived, provide you an immersive experience in the magical world of “elegance”. We set off from the Rossocorsa dealership in Brescia, headed for a proper Grand-Tour of the Lake. In normal driving, the Roma shows its GT characteristics, boasing supreme comfort and excellent visibility. It’s the sort of “sharp refinement” that you would expect from such a car: the car absorbs the bumps perfectly and the damping is not rigid at all, as there is not that unpleasant “bouncy” feeling when driving over rough surfaces.

Driving the Roma reminds us about the old test drives in 50ies magazines, where a GT was judged primarily for their excellent comfort and day-to-day living. It’s a fact that this Ferrari makes you want to take it to long distances and enjoy yourself every bit. The steering is properly weighted and there is no over-exaggeration of it being super light when driven in town or super heavy while in “hypersport” mode: in a few words, it has a consistent feedback under every condition.

Most importantly, the throttle response is what makes a GT a GT, in our opinion. It has a very easy response and varies from the driving mode in which you’re in: in comfort, it’s progressive, with a very smooth delivery while in sport and race it’s direct but never resulting in an “on/off” feeling. We can thank Ferrari’s Variable Boost technology for that, where you have a software adjusting the boost depending in which gear and driving condition you’re in. You’re never short of all the 760 Nm of torque and when you want to accelerate smoothly, the Roma rewards you with an amazing and highly satisfying progression.

For those of you who think that it’s a “baby” supercar, just know that you’re wrong in the first place. When the 3.9 litre twin turbo V8’s all 620 horses are deployed, you know you’re driving a purebred Ferrari: the acceleration is savage and in a very short time you’ll be traveling at speeds that would land you in jail in no time. If you press the throttle pedal for a few seconds, the 200 mark will be already gone. However, the Roma always manage to deliver its power very linearly and with what you would call consistent smoothness.

And then… there’s the handling, Ferrari’s own trademark. Needless to say, it’s quick, responsive and neutral in its behaviour. The excellent dynamics reflect the skill of the engineers that work at Ferrari. The Roma has a very slight oversteering behaviour when entering the corner and oversteering one when exiting. In typical GT fashion, the nose points outside the line you’re following at first and on second it points towards the inside of the corner. Aided by the Ferrari Side Slip Angle 6 system, the Roma is the most enjoyable GT we’ve tested to date. Power delivery is mind-boggling. On winter tires, the TC light flashes constantly and in race mode, the Roma literally requires all your attention and skill to be driven in a sporty manner. It’s not made for the track, but for the road and yet, without controls and driven hard is not for everyone. Before you start turning the manettino clockwise, it’s good to take a lesson or two, as too much throttle will make it lose traction easily. If you can exploit this, you’ll have loads of fun for sure. You can feel that the car is softly dampened as (we were on winter tires on a hot early April day) when it loses traction, you do feel some roll and yaw but they never get in the way of driving, we can assure.

The Roma leaves you with a sense of “gentle excitement” that cannot be forgotten easily. As fans of classic Ferraris of the 50ies we can feel a strong connection to that “golden age”. Sure, the past won’t come back, but if we can have a modern glimpse of the pure and untouched emotions that the Roma gives you, we’re just as happy as ever.

Beauty is absolutely necessary in everyone’s lives… but if it has a Prancing Horse, it’s even better!


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