Author: Jarlath Sweenet Fleet Transportation Magazine
Mention Ferrari and hearts and minds enter dreamland. Not only does the name resonate with everyone that has a passion for cars and motorsport, it’s more than that. As singer/songwriter Chris Rea depicted in his 1996 tribute film, “La Passione”, it’s a passion, a vocation even for the creators and builders of a long line of sports cars that feature the ‘Prancing Horse’ symbol.
For the ninth and final episode of the Autostyle Design Competition Digital Edition 2020 Workshops, those beautiful dreams somewhat came to life with a real-life presentation dedicated to the new Ferrari Roma, the brand’s latest coupé. Flavio Manzoni, Senior Vice-President of Design, who is based at Ferrari’s spectacular Design Centre, addressed the on-line audience and fulfilled their interest and appetite on how the car was conceived and designed.
During the introduction, Flavio gave a flavour of the high technical level of innovation he and his design team work under, meeting the high expectations set to satisfy, not only to their customers but also within the company itself. To come up with a new design concept, Flavio instils that the designers take-in what’s all around them, from the environment, the landscape, scenery to socio-economic trends. “Curiosity establishes inspiration,” he said. “seeking excellence is the objective at all times, while remaining humble,” he added and also included that “elegance and purity” go hand-in-hand with the aforementioned ‘La Passione’.
With this philosophy in mind, which stretches back over 80 years to when the firm was founded by Enzo Ferrari, the Roma project had one main objective – become the ultimate GT (Gran Turismo) car, ‘that embodies the spirit of elegance, sportiness and personalisation’. Flavio spoke of the Roma’s body shape, describing its sensual, yet muscular lines, and gave special mention to the iconic element of the rear section such as the minimalist light decals, an honourable nod to Ferrari models from the 1960’s – simple, true, yet functional.
Indeed, the Ferrari Roma’s overall design took inspiration from the concept of sporty elegance celebrated in the most legendary grand touring Ferraris of the 1960s, front-engined cars with simple yet elegant forms and a 2+ fastback coupé design. The Ferrari Roma shares many of these characteristics and embodies an extremely modern design language; it’s pure, refined styling and perfect proportions cleverly conceal the car’s power and sportiness. In essence, the latest model coupé from Maranello features proportions that are elegantly balanced, athletic in shape, yet pouting some muscle.
Noticeable at the front of the car is the shark nose effect, with its wide front bonnet and wings that flow into one another, in line with Ferrari’s traditional styling cues. In addition, the car was designed without the traditional Scuderia Ferrari side shields, reflecting the approach taken with the road cars of the 1950s.
The tail of the car is ultra-modern; to guarantee best-in-class aerodynamic performance while still retaining the Ferrari Roma’s stylistic purity, Flavio’s engineers developed several leading-edge technologies, most notably a mobile rear spoiler integrated into the rear screen to guarantee the required downforce and automatically deployed at high speeds.
These include most notably a new powertrain with 8-speed gearbox, the introduction of the five-position manettino (lever switch) for the first time on a Ferrari grand tourer, and a best-in-class power/weight ratio. The Prancing Horse’s new Euro 6 D 3.9-litre 620hp/760Nm V8 2+ coupé with 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission embodies, beyond any doubt, the concept of “La Nuova Dolce Vita”. All of which make the Ferrari Roma the most powerful and fun to drive mid-front-engined V8 2+ in Ferrari history.
According to Flavio’s design team, a new architectural concept for volumes and forms was developed for the Ferrari Roma’s cabin. The idea was to create two separate spaces or cells, one each for driver and passenger, in an evolution of the Dual Cockpit concept introduced on other cars in the range. Unlike the Prancing Horse’s sports cars, which are typically more driver-oriented, the Ferrari Roma’s cabin produces a more space and functional elements. In fact, the passenger will feel very involved in the driving experience, almost like a co-pilot. He or she has even got their own touchscreen to entertain themselves along the journey.
The look and feel of the cabin was driven by the complete redesign of the Human-Machine-Interface (HMI), which marks a major leap forward starting from the new Ferrari range steering wheel designed using the “Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” philosophy. The instrumentation is now entirely digital with all the screens going completely black when the car is not running, but once the Engine Start button on the steering wheel is pushed, a “ceremony” of sorts begins that sees all the digital components gradually springing to life until the whole cockpit is aglow.
The instrument cluster comprises a single 16” HD screen that is curved to make it easier to read. In the default screen, the navigation and audio screens surround the large circular rev counter. The new steering wheel introduces a series of multi-touch controls that allow the driver to control any aspect of the car without ever taking their hands off the wheel. The extremely intuitive and easy-to-use new 8.4” HD central display, set between the two cockpits, incorporates the infotainment, sat-nav and climate control functions. The passenger’s experience reaches a new level with the optional 8.8” colour Full HD touchscreen which not only displays the car’s performance figures and status, but can also be used to interact with its on-board system selecting music, viewing satnav information and managing air conditioning functions. So essentially, the passenger becomes a co-driver.
Combined use of the most exotic materials, not least full-grain Frau leather, Alcantara, chromed aluminium and carbon-fibre, result in a distinctive car that is proud to bear the Ferrari nameplate.
A native of Sardinia, Flavio has a long association with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (which still has links with Ferrari), having served his time with Lancia, Maserati, and Fiat with stints at SEAT and Volkswagen before moving to Modena in 2010. He has received many honours and awards for designing a series of ‘dream cars’, much sought after all over the world.
Flavio proudly referred to one of Enzo Ferrari’s famous remarks. On being asked what was his favourite Ferrari, his reply was; ‘the next one’! For now, the Roma is the favourite car in the stable….until the next one comes prancing along!
Contributions were also made by Emanuel Salvatore; Head of Virtual Modelling, Salvatore Della Ventura; Advanced Design Head Virtual Modeller, Matteo De Petris; Head of Advanced Design, Fabio Massari; Head of GT Car Interior Design and Silvia Cavallaro; Head of Colour & Trim, during the exercise.
New Ferrari Roma is the ‘favourite’ …..for now!