MID-ENGINED FERRARIS require little explanation. Founder Enzo famously may not have been a fan of the layout, preferring his horses ahead of his cart, but Maranello has long since established itself as a master of the art of otherworldly yet accessible mid-engined performance. Cars like the F8 Tributo and new SF90 showcase the marque’s technological and artistic flair, while also linking its road cars to Formula 1. Elemental and pure, they’re uncomplicated in their remit and their appeal.
It’s not always so straightforward with Maranello’s front-engined cars. The astonishing, V12-powered 812 Superfast is often lumped in with GTs but is, in fact, nothing of the sort, being instead a hypercar ever willing to sweep sideways on a breath of throttle and force you to re-learn everything you thought you know about fast. And then there’s the Portofino, Maranello’s folding-hardtop entry-level model. In many ways the least Ferrari-like Ferrari money can buy, it’s also the first Ferrari many buyers experience.
And now there’s the new Ferrari Roma, the 2+2 coupe unveiled late last year. Beautiful and redolent of the past in its ideals if not, thankfully, its design, the $409,888 Roma sits just above the Portofino ($399,888) and promises to be both a GT and a sports car, as well as the first of a new breed of more usable, everyday Ferrari.
Fortunately, much of what differentiates the Roma from the Portofino bodes well for the new coupe’s sporting aspirations. The aluminum structure is based on that of the Portofino – same wheelbase, for instance – but Maranello claims 70 percent of the body and structure is new or substantially modified (the new bodywork accounts for the lion’s share of that 70 percent). Weight is down, by a useful 100kg or so, and the centre of mass is lower, thanks to the deletion of the Portofino’s folding roof mechanism.
Manzoni on the Roma
JUST DON'T CALL IT RETRO
The Roma's design ethos is a modern take on minimalism, as Chief Design Officer Flavio Manzoni explains: “The long bonnet and compact coupe glasshouse recall the Italian design language of the sixties, but this car is not nostalgic in any respect. It’s extremely modern: the soul of the Sixties in a contemporary design. We had been wanting to create very formally pure Ferrari tourers for some time. Elegant cars with lines kept as sober as possible and influenced as little as possible by the technical requirements.”
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