When I was in my teens, I spent a vulgar amount of money on OutRun 2, a racing arcade game. It had unrealistic driving mechanics and subtle overtones of sexism – your passenger was a buxom blonde who would swoon when you successfully drifted – but it also introduced me to the Ferrari F40. It might have been just pixels on a screen, but the car, with its fiery red paintwork and fearsome looks, was the most beautiful automobile I had seen. The 12-year-old me wanted to drive that F40.
In a decade-long writing career, I’ve had the opportunity to drive multiple Ferraris. I’ve taken the Portofino along the winding roads of Italy and tested the limits of the California T in the sandy desert roads of Dubai. Every time I stepped into a Ferrari, that feeling of slight trepidation mixed with genuine excitement would always be there.
So, when Ferrari asked if I’d like to drive its new Roma, I jumped at the chance. Unveiled in Rome in November 2019, the grand tourer finally arrived on Singapore’s shores more than a year later.
The two-month closure of the two plants in Maranello and Modena undoubtedly affected production schedules. The Roma is meant to be an entry-level Ferrari. It’s priced at S$888,000 before the Certificate of Entitlement, a move that’s certainly aimed at its competitors such as the Porsche 911 GT3 and McLaren GT.
The first thing that strikes you about the Roma is the hyper digitised dashboard. There are three screens in front of you: a 16-inch displaying your speed and other driving information, the 8.4-inch infotainment system and the 8.8-inch display located at the passenger side to control the stereo system and air conditioning. It was a concept that Ferrari first experimented with on the SF90 Stradale hybrid hypercar.
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The Italian marque announced that it expects 70 per cent of Roma’s customers to be new to the brand and it shows. The car is surprisingly easy to drive at lower revs and doesn’t strain at the leash unlike a lot of other supercars. But turn the manettino (Italian for little lever) dial to Race and the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine roars to life, swallowing tarmac and gobbling up corners with ease. It’s fun to whip the Roma around, thanks to the responsive and accurate steering and the brakes confidently handle whatever you throw at it. Ferrari knows how to make a bloody fun car.
Not only that, it always makes a seductive one. The luscious curves and clean lines helped it to win the Car Design Award 2020 awarded by Auto&Design magazine. Driving the Roma deepened my affection for Ferrari, one that began more than two decades ago when an arcade game introduced me to the Prancing Horse. I’m still waiting to drive the F40 though.
ENGINE: 3,855cc, twin-turbo V8
TORQUE: 760Nm at 3,000rpm
POWER: 620hp at 5,750rpm
0-100 KPH: 3.4 seconds
TOP SPEED: 320kph
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