Alone, a man glides through the darkened streets of the Eternal City. Like a shark, he’s on the hunt. Relentlessly propelled through an eerily abandoned Rome in search of his quarry. His swift steed, a 2021 Ferrari Roma, prowling through wine-dark seas. The car slips and twists menacingly, rumbling through canyons of ancient pock-marked marble, as an equally attractive woman in a café spots him. An instant later, she joins him in her own Roma. The two race and wind through the empty city streets together. They end up, just as dawn is breaking, overlooking the city. The man passes the woman a book: La Dolce Vita.
In their promotional video, Ferrari very much knows what they’re selling and to whom. Indeed, there’s a car involved here, but there’s also youth, money, sex, and power to boot. More to the point, it’s a good life that Ferrari’s selling. For those who’ve ‘made it’ and have conquered their city, a Ferrari is undoubtedly the ultimate expression of that success. The car says, ‘you’ve arrived’ without saying a word.
The front-mid-engine 2021 Ferrari Roma is an absolute triumph of aesthetic, technology, and engineering for the supercar buyer. Reaching back, Ferrari has borrowed from its rich stylistic heritage to create an absolute masterpiece. The Roma elegantly incorporates elements of Pininfarina design: the Roma exudes the high glamour and the other-worldly excitement of the 1960s-era Ferrari Lusso and the 1970s-era Daytona. It’s the perfect complement to your Neapolitan hand-tailored suit, your second home in Tuscany, an esoteric wine, or a rare book collection.
And it’s not a car without controversy, either. Ferrari put a shot across the bow of the Aston Martin DC11. The perennially troubled Aston Martin Lagonda company has taken notice, too. A grand touring cruiser, the Roma is a car that aims to overtake the market Aston Martin has staked out for itself: being the most remarkable touring coupe for those individuals who refuse to compromise on performance or luxury. And to be honest, Ferrari has succeeded in their aim.
Thoroughly modern, the entire design concept appears to be incredibly understated. The lines are smooth, making the Roma almost alien-esque in its overall appearance. This restrained design language makes the car seem at once neither fish nor fowl — as though there should be a classified Congressional report into its extraterrestrial origins. Avian and gracile, the silhouette appears as though the car might just at once take flight. Yet, the stance is that the Roma seems solidly planted, a machine firmly connected, belying its connection to earthly origins.
A world-class Grand Tourer, the Roma sits just a bit further up in the Ferrari portfolio. Built on the same chassis as the Portofino, it’s powered by a 3.9-liter turbocharged V8 engine pushing 612 horsepower at 561 foot-pounds of torque. With a beefy engine that will propel you from 0-60 mph in about 3.4 seconds and mated with an 8-speed automatic, you’ll feel it as this rear-wheel-drive spaceship-turned-car rockets to a top speed of 199 mph. If you should want to stop for some reason, the car will decelerate to a dead stop 105 ft from 60 mph.
While speed is, of course, Ferrari’s forte, as a GT cruiser, you won’t feel cramped at all. The Roma’s wide wheelbase of 105 inches with a length of 183 inches ensures the driver a comfortable cabin. In addition, Ferrari’s exquisite leather, composite materials, and accents combine to create a dynamic automotive experience, currently unrivaled by any other Italian automaker.
Matching its powerplant, the Roma is a technological powerhouse. The exceptional interior comes with seating for four, a heated steering wheel, surround-view cameras, blind-spot detection, forward collision warning, an autonomous emergency braking system, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control. That’s impressive, but it’s just the beginning. The driver’s side cockpit is more akin to a futuristic jet fighter than a traditional car. The steering wheel and the center digital instrument cluster integrate, forming a seamless connection between the driver and the vehicle.
Motor Trend magazine proclaimed that the Ferrari Roma is the one “car that keeps popping up in my dreams.” They went on to say that “there’s a sophistication and a maturity to the Roma absent from Ferrari’s other offerings.” Experts seem to agree, too, given that the iF Design Award for 2021 went to the Ferrari Design Centre, under the direction of Flavio Manzoni, for its “contemporary reinterpretation of the carefree lifestyle of the 1950s and ’60s Rome.” Indeed, this is one sports car that captures the essence of that halcyon era in a modern way. Bloomberg news summed the Roma up as “the most beautiful new car I’ve seen all year.”
Built with care and precision, the ragged note of the engine as you hurdle through Alpine backwoods and small country hamlets, this is a car that comes with a sense of noblesse oblige. It is as instructive a vehicle as it is a moral lesson in how other car marques should make their cars. For a Ferrari, it dispenses with the vulgarity of the track and transcends into divinity as a civilizing force for the greater good. It begins with the driver’s experience—and the Roma makes for a supremely luxurious driving experience, indeed. It ends with how it makes the driver feel as an individual. No one asks the man who drives a Ferrari ‘what do you do for a living?’ Instead, they ask him, ‘who areyou?’
There are everyday people, and there is the kind of people who you want to know every day. The Roma is a car for those who dare greatly, and this is a car for those people you absolutely need to know. It’s a car for those people who believe in the infinite promise of a future dawn as white as one of Tom Wolfe’s suits. That year after year rushes up again and again to meet us. It’s a Roman general’s triumph, the will to power, and that good luck will never elude us. And that glorious dream of tomorrow and forever after when we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther—and then, one fine morning, we too will drive a Roma.
Cover photo courtesy of Ferrari.
View this article in the September 2021 issue of MP.