What Does a $222,000 ‘Entry-Level’ Ferrari Drive Like?

‘Entry-level’ means something different when you talk about high-end cars. Especially from a brand like Ferrari. Still, even the historic Italian automaker needs to expand its market offerings. That’s why it’s working on an SUV, and why it’s released the Ferrari Roma. So, what’s it like to get behind the wheel of an ‘entry-level’ Ferrari?

The 2021 Roma is an ‘inexpensive’ but not de-contented Ferrari

A red 2018 Ferrari Portofino by a harbor
2018 Ferrari Portofino | Ferrari

The 2021 Ferrari Roma isn’t quite the cheapest model the Italian automaker offers, Car and Driver reports. That would be the car the Roma is based on, the hardtop Portofino convertible. Still, with a roughly $222,000 base price, ‘cheap’ isn’t the best word to describe the Roma. And it’s not exactly lacking for performance or luxury features.

Although the 2021 Ferrari Roma is based on the Portofino, it’s wider, longer, and lower, Car and Driver reports. It’s also about 200 pounds lighter, and roughly 70% of its parts are new, MotorTrend reports.

A gray 2021 Ferrari Roma by an Italian cafe
2021 Ferrari Roma | Ferrari

The Roma’s 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 is also more powerful, with 612 hp and 561 lb-ft. That power goes to the rear wheels via an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, rather than the Portofino’s 7-speed transmission. With that, the Ferraro Roma goes 0-62 mph in a claimed 3.4 seconds, Top Gear reports.

To help the driver keep the Ferrari Roma under control, it comes with an electronically-adjustable differential, adjustable traction control, and multiple driving modes, Hagerty reports. One of those modes is Race Mode, which enables ‘Dynamic Enhancer.’ It’s essentially the Roma’s version of Drift Mode, MT reports, braking individual wheels to control slides.

The luxurious touches

The Ferrari Roma, though, isn’t just a sports car—it’s a GT. And that doesn’t just mean leather upholstery, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay, which the Roma has. Interestingly, though, the latter two are optional, Automobile reports.

The 2021 Ferrari Roma's dashboard and tan-leather front seats
2021 Ferrari Roma interior | Ferrari

As with other recent Ferraris, most of the Roma’s controls are on its steering wheel, Autoblog explains. But instead of physical switches, many of them have been replaced with capacitive-touch ‘buttons.’ Roadshow reports. It’s a similar story with the 16” gauge cluster, which is now a TFT display. However, the cabin does have an 8.4” centrally-mounted touchscreen, Car reports. And there’s an optional passenger-side display with audio and navigation controls.

A side view of the 2021 Ferrari Roma's interior
2021 Ferrari Roma interior side | Ferrari

Naturally, the Ferrari Roma offers a high degree of customization. Options include extra carbon-fiber trim pieces, such as a rear diffuser, magnetic dampers, a leather headliner, and an upgraded audio system. Adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning are also available, though optional. The front splitter and active rear spoiler are standard, though, Evo reports. So is the proximity key fob that’s shaped like the Ferrari logo, Motor1 reports.

The 2021 Ferrari Roma is a GT “you can genuinely use every day,” MotorTrend reports

The Ferrari Roma’s steering wheel interface could use some refinement, Roadshow reports. Some of the controls are sluggish, while others are positioned awkwardly. And some of the options are buried within multiple sub-menus. However, Roadshow notes that the Roma it drove was a pre-production model. And based on reviews from MT and Car and Driver, the sluggishness, at least, was resolved.

Dynamically, though, the Ferrari Roma nails it. The transmission “reacts instantly” to paddle inputs, Car and Driver reports. The Roma’s steering is quick and accurate, and with the tires and suspension, let the GT go “exactly where you point it,” MT reports. And yet despite its handling prowess, the ride is supple, Evo reports.

That’s arguably the Ferrari Roma’s greatest strength: its ability to blend sportiness with all-day comfort. In Comfort Mode, the shifts are relaxed, Roadshow reports. Plus, the seats and suspension are comfortable over short and long distances alike, Car reports. It’s precisely these qualities which Enzo himself enjoyed in his road cars, Road & Track reports. And the Roma lives up to that reputation.

What does it compete with?

Admittedly, the Ferrari Roma’s near-quarter-million-dollar price tag means it will stay a fairly-rare vehicle. And when you’re well into the 6-figure territory for a car, practicality largely falls by the wayside.

Red 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S coupe in front of hilly fields
2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S | Porsche

Even so, the Roma’s got some rivals, some of which are slightly more accessible. For example, the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Courtesy of AWD and a 640-hp 3.7-liter twin-turbocharged flat-6, it goes 0-60 mph in 2.2 seconds. But despite its incredible pace, the 911 Turbo S remains a “comfortable package,” Car and Driver reports. At $203.5k, it’s still expensive, but the ‘standard’ Turbo still has Roma-levels of acceleration for $170.5k.

An orange-red 2020 Bentley Continental GT V8 in the forest
2020 Bentley Continental GT V8 | Bentley

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There’s also the 2020 Bentley Continental GT. For roughly $201k you get a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 542 hp and 568 lb-ft and a 0-60 mph time just behind the Ferrari Roma, Car and Driver reports. And the Bentley’s interior material quality and comfort befit the grand-tourer name, Roadshow reports.

Decisions, decisions.

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