I DON’T know if the chaps at Ferrari Styling Centre are allowed to have the radio on at work – but I suspect if they do, it’s probably permanently tuned into Planet Rock.
Every offering in Maranello’s current range is full of the sort of shouty styling that you’d expect from someone exposed to Guns ‘N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin and Foo Fighters eight hours a day – oh, and perhaps the occasional bit of Pink Floyd on lunch breaks. The F8 Tributo is a truly jaw-dropping supercar, but it is very, very loud and in-yer-face. Which, I suppose, is exactly what you’d want a mid-engined Ferrari to be.
But imagine if, just for one day, someone snuck in, switched the frequency to Smooth FM instead and then glued the tuning knob firmly into position. The resulting car would still have that gem of a turbocharged V8, of course, but the bodywork would be penned by people who’d been listening to Bryan Ferry, the Carpenters and Fleetwood Mac instead. That’d be lovely, right?
Well, that’s what I’d like to imagine happened in the run-up to the new Roma, which is everything the equally new F8 Tributo and SP90 Stradale aren’t.
Obviously, Ferrari has come up with its own, rather waffle-ish explanation for the understated looks – they are, and I quote Maranello’s own press release, “a contemporary reinterpretation of the carefree lifestyle of 1950s and ‘60s Rome, from which the car takes its evocative name”. Ahem. It then goes on to explain, for people who speak petrolhead rather than marketing, that it’s taken inspiration from the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso and 250 GT 2+2 of the early Sixties. In other words, Ferrari’s looked at some of its older stuff, realised it’s much prettier than what it’s offering at the moment, and decided it’d like to bring some of the old magic back.
Good. I know I described the F8 as “proper bedroom wall stuff” in The Champion about six months ago – but I’m in my thirties and don’t blu-tack posters of supercars on my bedroom wall anymore (and I’m not entirely sure what my wife would say if I did). Nope, the Roma reminds me instead of the last new Ferrari I truly lusted after – the utterly wonderful, and equally understated 456 GT. No ground-snorting nose, no massive vents and absolutely no look-at-me rear spoilers – just lovely, beautifully proportioned curves cloaking an enormous engine, a leather-lined cabin and a steering wheel with a Prancing Horse badge on it.
Obviously, it’s worth mentioning that the Roma has a 611bhp version of the V8 that’s won the Engine of the Year award three times on the trot. You might be interested, too, in that its eight-speed double clutch gearbox is six kg lighter than the seven-speed one in the old Ferrari California, and that it has a dynamic control system that controls yaw angle by hydraulically adjusting brake pressure at the callipers.
Or – if you’re like me – you could just leave all the stats to children who want to win at Top Trumps by having the F8 Tributo in the pack. Just appreciate that Ferrari have finally come up with something that reminds you of the Daytona and the 456 GT – a front-engined GT that looks gorgeous and goes like stink.
From now on, Planet Rock is banned at Ferrari Styling Centre. I’m sure the chaps will learn to love Smooth FM…