But Ferrari commercial boss Enrico Galliera insists it is a completely new machine, designed to capture a completely new type of customer: someone who wants a stylish sports car, but might have been afraid of hardcore Ferrari machines of the past. Galliera hinted that those new customers are currently driving “elegant” and “less aggressive” cars, which gives a clue as to where the Roma is aimed.
But what’s particularly notable about the Roma is what it’s not: a hard-top Portofino. The Roma does share its basic underpinnings with Ferrari’s entry-level soft-top but it’s been substantially reworked, with a bold new retro-infused design and extra power from its 3.9-litre turbocharged V8.
The result is something new and distinctive, which slots into the gap in Ferrari’s V8 model range between the Portofino and the F8 Tributo. More dynamic than the Portofino (something likely to be welcomed by our road testers), but less hardcore than the latter, and with its own sense of style.
“Many people maybe expected us to introduce a coupé version of the Portofino,” admitted Galliera. “But this is a completely new model. We believe there is space for two Ferrari models in that front-engined segment.”
Trying to reach new Ferrari customers wouldn’t have been possible had Ferrari simply stuck a hard-top on a Portofino (something which Galliera insisted wasn’t possible anyway, thanks to that car’s design). The result is a car that does seem to offer something new for Ferrari – even if it is by a matter of degrees. And there's definitely space in the market for a sporty front-engined coupé alongside the Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG GT.
As Ferrari continues to expand its range with new nameplates there is a risk the growing model line-up could confuse customers. But that can be mitigated by ensuring each model has a distinctive style and character of its own, which the Roma definitely does.
For a car company to grow, it needs to reach new customers, and that can’t just be done by launching radical new models such as the forthcoming SUV. It also needs to find new ways to build on its core strengths.
Ferrari believes there’s still plenty of room for growth by finding new market gaps for the sort of car it has long done well. Being less predictable doesn’t have to mean going radical.
New Ferrari Roma: full details of 612bhp V8 coupe
Ferrari: we need to become less predictable