The 2021 Ferrari Roma Is the Most Perfect Ferrari on the Road Today

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    Beauty has restorative powers. Just ask visitors to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, to the desert monoliths in Moab, to the new Dries van Noten store in Los Angeles since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Even if objets d’art can’t cure Covid-19, they calm the mind, soothe the soul, inspire the heart. I am not so cynical as to believe that the same aesthetic properties don’t apply to cars. But I am wise enough to know that automotive providers of such respite are few and far between, especially if they’re new. In my 16-plus-year career I have seen a few gorgeous cars and many that are forgettable; it takes a lot these days to take my breath away. The Ferrari Roma did. It is the most beautiful new car I’ve seen all year. Conceived as a return to the stunning and astronomically expensive 250 GT Lusso and other grand touring cars Ferrari produced in the 1950s and 1960s, the $218,670 Roma comes with balanced, monolithic lines that swoop from front to back and a stunning perforated grille that pulls the color and shape of the whole car forward into an elegant arrow. It feels like a deep exhale and release into serenity, while the clamoring of the modern auto market’s tank-sized trucks, reptilian hypercars, and sedans as forgettable as droids fade out of view. Set to go on sale in spring 2021, the Roma is the kind of irresistible diversion that can bring us all a brief respite from current troubles, even for those who see it only from the outside. It’s arriving just in the nick of time. Car lovers, we need this. The Ferrari Roma joins the Ferrari lineup as a brand-new model that offers the same two-plus seat configuration as the open-top Portofino M. (That’s the term Ferrari uses to let us know the car technically has two back seats, but you probably won’t be able to fit in them.) Many will evoke the dolce vita cliché that describes how the Roma looks and feels. After all, it is meant for the kind of glamorous sun-drenched driving showcased in the Fellini film. Undeniably, it is far more suited to soaking up the sweet life on a daily basis than the 812, 488, SF90 Stradale, and F8 Tribuno Ferraris in all their sinuous glory; this is a true grand tourer with space in the back seat and enough room in the trunk for weekender baggage. As I found during my circuitous test drive from Beverly Hills to Pyramid Lake, Fraser Park, Ojai, Malibu, and back to downtown L.A.—300 miles and more than six hours of driving—its higher clearance height, less ragged engine note, and sophisticated driving properties are much more generous in sating the desires of daily life. The Roma has a 611-horsepower V8 mid-front-mounded engine, eight-speed paddle-shifting transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Zero to 60 mph takes 3.4 seconds; top speed is 199 mph. As I climbed the hills on the back side of Ojai, I thrilled in steering that was so smooth and delicate around every corner while the turbocharged engine provided instantaneous reactions to my request for more speed. It’s fair to say I upped the aggression of my driving, based on the brakes that took effect so quickly—balanced and smooth—that they instilled a preternatural sense of trust. On the whole, Roma feels silkier to drive than such siblings as the 710-horsepower F8 Tributo and 788-horsepower 812 Superfast. It offers a more intimate connection between car and driver than those high-echelon Ferraris whose whopping power ratings and track-calibrated engineering give them prowess that remain largely untapped by anyone without years of professional driving experience. In the Roma, I felt I could access and embrace the whole car as I drove, not just dip my toe into the overwhelming ocean of what it can do, lest I lose control altogether. I wanted to get those engine specs out of the way early because, yes, Roma’s performance is superb. But the defining elements and best reason to buy the Roma is its jaw-dropping and deeply thoughtful design, inside and out.

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