This past Thursday Ferrari unveiled the Roma, an all-new grand touring car—and it is, in the local parlance sbalorditivo. Mechanically, it’s a revival of the company’s tradition of building elegant, powerful road cars capable of barreling along scenic shoreline drives for mile after mile while the interminably cool people inside enjoy comfort, luxury, and the jealous stares of everyone else on the road. More specifically, it’s a nod to the foundational Ferraris from the mid-twentieth century, cars like the 250 GT and the 275 GTB, which were born in a time when Italian film and fashion and design made everyone drool with desire and lust. Also, just look at the Roma. It’s beautiful. And that’s not necessarily been the case—or the goal—at Ferrari in recent years.
Look at a modern Ferrari, and you see a vehicle ruled by math: vents, spoilers, shapes designed to play nicely with the particularities of how air flows at 200 miles per hour. The current F8 Tributo and the forthcoming SF90 Stradale, for example, are aggressive, hardcore machines. But Ferrari has always, since its founding in 1947, been of two minds: it’s built track-conquering, technologically innovative racers and curvaceous road-ready masterpieces. Recently, those two species of Ferrari had become confused, mashed up, a little lost. With the Roma, a pure GT (a.k.a., “grand tourer), Ferrari wants to return to the way things were—to bring some clarity back to those twin pillars of its lineup.
“We felt the necessity to clarify what is a sports car and what is a GT in our range,” says Flavio Manzioni, Ferrari’s senior vice president of design, in a one-on-one interview with GQ. “So we wanted to avoid mixtures between the two families, because we think that a GT must be more elegant, and more simple—not characterized by a form which is affected by several technical solutions, which are necessary to reach a certain objective in terms of performance.”
Now, yes, the Roma is still a Ferrari. It’s still very fast. Under that aquiline Roma nose is a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine putting out 620 horsepower and capable of rushing the coupe from zero to sixty miles-per-hour in about 3.3 seconds. Inside it’s all finely stitched and bolstered leathers, polished metals and carbon fiber. A de rigueur panoply of LCD screens lines the cabin, surrounding the driver and passenger (and the vestigial rear seats) in their glow.
But, more important, the Roma is perhaps the loveliest, cleanest, most compelling Ferrari design to roll out of Maranello in decades. Clean lines from front to back. The platonic ideal of left-lane-dominating looks in that long hood and tiny back. It’s got hips and curves meant to make it look not only beautiful, but approachable, rather than something you need to tame. And this signals something very important for the brand. “This car eliminates many things that somehow complicate the line, because we don’t need it,” Manzioni says of the Roma. “We need elegance. Is it clear?” Crystal.