Ferrari Roma Is the First Properly Pretty Prancing Horse in Ages

Ferrari has finally jumped back on the beauty train with the new front-engined Roma, after years in which its cars seemed to be designed for excessive wow factor, rather than being pleasant to look at.
Ferrari Roma and 456 1 photo
There used to be an understated elegance about a Ferrari - sure it looked opulent, but it didn’t shove its opulence in your face like, say, cars from its arch rival Lamborghini did. Ferrari’s cars up until the very early 2000s still had a sculptural quality about them, they were restrained, letting their perfect proportions and subtle details do the talking.

They didn’t need swoops and scoops to turn heads or get the conversation started - if you wanted to show off back then, you bought a Lambo; Ferraris were more for discerning buyers who didn’t feel like they had to stand out as much through the purchase of a supercar.

To better understand my point, I’ll go ahead and say that probably my favorite modern Ferrari is the 1992 - 2003 456 GT. What draws me to this particular model is its super clean design that’s not interrupted by any superfluous details - they even went so far as to hide the headlights in the quest for making its lines as clean as possible (and also for aerodynamics).

The 456 is so beautifully proportioned and well thought out that it screams quiet sophistication in a way modern Ferraris just don’t - current models just shout and there’s nothing subtle about that. Compared to the sculptural and subdued 456, the modern day 812 Superfast looks like they didn’t know when to stop designing it and they just kept adding swoops, creases - this for me makes it less appealing from a design standpoint.

Even the name “Superfast“ just screams at an obnoxiously high volume, but at least it’s in-keeping with the way the car looks and the deafening wail it leaves in its wake. Sure, the Superfast’s V12 sounds good, but just like the car, it’s a bit too loud for everyday use.

Another of my favorites has to be the 2001 - 2006 575 M, the early 2000s equivalent of today’s 812 Superfast. Just like the 456, its body has an undeniable sculptural quality about it (even though to my eye it’s not quite as pretty as the 456) and it doesn’t seem overly designed. The people who penned it reached a look they were happy with and then stopped - that’s a good thing as it resulted in a pretty and timeless looking car.

How are we going to perceive today’s Ferraris in a few decades’ time? Will we look back at them fondly the way we today look at Ferraris from past decades, or will they gain the status that old Lamborghinis have nowadays - brash old things that make a lot of noise and attract a lot of attention?

Don’t get me wrong, I do think there’s a place for crazy, in-your-face Ferraris, but I think only the brand’s mid-engined offerings should be like that. Its front-engined cars have historically been great long-legged cruisers with creamy-smooth engines that are sufficiently powerful and not overly loud.

For this reason, I must admit I was quite happy to see the first truly nice looking Ferrari in ages (to my eyes, at least), the new front-engined Roma. It looks like a continuation of the design philosophy behind my beloved 456, with simple yet powerful lines and proportions that do the talking without resorting to the aforementioned swoops and edges to get the conversation started.

The Ferrari Roma is easily the best looking Prancing Horse in ages, and the first I’d actually consider buying if I lived in a suitable tax bracket. Like its models from the 90s, the Roma doesn’t shout about its look because it doesn’t have to - you notice its long hood, the subtle taper of the greenhouse or the muscular flanks that just look right.

In fact, the best compliment I can pay the Roma is that it looks just right; it’s not overly done, something which I haven’t quite been able to say about modern Ferraris, as enticing and enthralling as they all may be. As a car nut, you can’t not love Ferraris, because they do represent a kind of automotive dream come true, it’s just that if you know the brand’s history, you know it also used to make pretty cars.

Hopefully, the Roma is a sign of things to come in Ferrari’s future and not just a fluke in a range of cars styled by teenagers who took too much speed. Besides, Ferrari is making its first ever SUV and that car really needs to look just right, otherwise they won’t hear the end of arguments as to why they should not have made such a vehicle in the first place.


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