I drove the Ferrari Roma – a 'cheaper' supercar with a mysterious red dial, radar and genius 'magnet juice'

ROME is beautiful. In the ancient parts of the city, there’s so much going on that you spend most of the time gawking in awe.

Fittingly, the Ferrari Roma is about the same.

You could spend half an hour just staring at it, appreciating every last detail – only to forget that it’s actually for driving.

Thankfully, I got a chance to spend a weekend with a Roma (in gorgeous blue) and – after a good gawp – I actually hit the road.

As you’d expect, it’s monstrously fast.

It’s powered by a 3855cc V8 engine that manages a top speed of 199mph.

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A whopping 610 horsepower (in a car that weighs just 1,570kg) helps you get blast from zero to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds.

Unusually for cars in this class, the engine is under the bonnet rather than behind the driver.

But it’s so far back (and the hood is so long) that this still counts as a mid-engined car.

There’s an eight-speed automatic gearbox (with manual gear controls if you prefer), which makes casual driving very easy.

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But some clever tricks give the Roma a serious edge.

Tech a look

I drove a version with magnetic suspension, which is a serious upgrade over regular shock absorption.

The dampers contain a special fluid of iron particles in a synthetic oil, which can be magnetised to move between liquid and near-solid.

This electronically-controlled system means the suspension can react instantly, can be prepared ahead of time by sensing body roll, and doesn’t have small parts that can wear out.

It makes the Roma tremendously smooth to ride, especially when you’re moving around bends.

Delightful, tempting and potentially dangerous in equal parts is the small red dial on the steering wheel.

It’s a small, red twisty knob known in Ferrari circles as the Manettino dial.

And it lets you switch between modes, including wet, comfort, sport, race, and ESC (electronic stability control).

Go to YouTube and you’ll find endless videos of reckless millionaires turning ESC off, flooring a Ferrari on a corner, and quickly disposing of several hundred thousand pounds worth of Italian supercar.

Unless you’ve had race training, it’s probably worth sticking to wet and comfort, and maybe sport at a push.

The Roma is rear-wheel drive too, so it needs special care if you're not used to that.

I'm happy for the ESC Off mode to remain a mystery to me.

The good news is that even in comfort mode, the Roma is an absolute racer – and very easily controlled.

There’s a misconception that supercars are a nightmare to drive: in comfort, the Ferrari Roma handles like a dream with a sensible power curve.

There’s a dynamic rear wing that automatically deploys for added downforce at high speeds.

And the underside of the car is genuinely flat for maximum downforce and air management.

Drive in

The interior is spacious, with a refined, luxurious and satisfyingly symmetrical design.

It’s also extremely comfortable, as a grand tourer should be.

There are even two (very, very small) seats in the back, which are fine for children – but not ideal for tall adults on a long journey.

The Roma I was driving didn’t have Apple CarPlay, but it’s now available as standard.

That’s good, as it lets you emulate your iPhone in the Roma for infotainment, apps, music and more.

But the standard Roma interface is brilliant anyway.

There’s a central panel with a large touchscreen for controlling car features, music, mapping and more.

And there’s also a handy touch display on the passenger side too, giving your fellow rider controls too.

My model came with a front radar that allowed for automatic cruise control.

And it also helped me avoid crashing with a back radar and blind spot detection.

A camera system with surround view also repeatedly came in handy, as the bonnet is very long.

All very handy, given I was in a model with a total retail price of £229,689.

The Ferrari Roma is an immensely satisfying car with a palatable starting price of £170,659.

It’s up against the noisier Lamborghini Huracan and the futuristic McLaren GT in terms of pricing – but all three have unique styles, so it all comes down to personal preference.

Ferrari has created a gorgeous turbocharged GT that’s only slightly pricier than the stunning Portofino.

And if you’ve got the cash to spare, you won’t be disappointed with the Roma.

  • Ferrari Roma from £170,659 – buy here

The Sun tested a Ferrari Roma with a base value of £170,659 and a total retail price of £229,689 with options included.

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All prices in this article were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed. Always do your own research before making any purchase.

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