It is a very rare occasion indeed when you are afforded the opportunity to tick something off your bucket list. Being a motoring journalist for the best part of a decade, I have been extremely lucky to strike a line through some of my dream experiences, but there was one lifelong wish, arguably the greatest of them all, that I had not yet fulfilled.
That is, until I got the call one fateful March morning that my opportunity would finally come: to be able to drive a Ferrari! Not only that, but be given one for an entire day to do as I wish and really get to grips with the purring beast.
This particular prancing horse was the 2022 Ferrari Roma, a gorgeous white stallion fresh off the Maranello conveyor belt.
The Roma is the latest coupé from the famous marque, featuring signature Italian styling aimed at being a contemporary reinterpretation of the carefree lifestyle of 1950s and ‘60s Rome, from which it gets its name.
Before I even got inside the car, I admired the sexy, sleek exterior with its sweeping bonnet, sculpted roofline and curvy rear. It’s refreshing to see a sports car without a rear spoiler sticking out and obstructing the view, although there is small mobile one integrated into the rear screen which deploys automatically at higher speeds.
Of course, with a car like this, it’s what’s under the bonnet that really matters. There’s only so much standing around and admiring you can do when all you want to do is get in and put it through its paces!
Entry to this beautiful beast is granted by the new Ferrari key with ‘Comfort Access’ function that allows the driver to open the car by touching a button next to the new flush handle in the door.
Once inside, there’s a small socket for the key underneath the centrepiece, and then a touch button on the steering wheel roars the V8 turbo engine into life.
Achieving 0-100kmph in just 3.4 seconds with a top speed of 320kmph when you extract every ounce of the 612bhp engine, this is truly a monster. It’s little surprise that it’s a member of the V8 family that has won the International Engine of the Year four years in a row.
Driving this beauty is as pleasurable as you can imagine, particularly thanks to the steering feedback. Much stiffer than expected, the car responds to every slight change of direction regardless of speed.
Naturally, with the fervour of a kid in a sweet shop, I flicked the driving mode into Sport (Wet, Comfort, Race and ESC-off are also available) via a dial on the steering wheel. Although I barely thought it possible, the steering became even tighter and the suspension harder, with gear changes and throttle more responsive too.
The Roma’s new 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox not only reduces fuel consumption and emissions, but also means its shifts are faster and smoother which makes the car even more responsive on the open road and especially comfortable in stop and start driving situations, which unfortunately in Bahrain is pretty much constantly!
Of course, the automatic option is there to make life easy for you, but for some real fun on the highway I shifted the transmission toggle to manual and used the huge chrome paddles behind the wheel. Hearing the engine roar as I rocketed up through the gears was a phenomenal feeling, although for the full experience this is a car to be taken out on track as it hits that dreaded speed limit all too quickly.
The interior is as luxurious as you would expect, with leather bucket seats offering both comfort and lateral support, while the dashboard and doors are embossed with the finest leather and carbon fibre elements.
The Roma ticks all the infotainment boxes such as navigation, Dual Climate Control, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity all accessed via a smart 8.4-inch vertical touch screen (which complements the 16” digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel).
I did not want my experience with the Roma to end, and I kept looking at the clock willing it to go back an hour. Alas, that didn’t happen, but the depressing feeling I had when I climbed back into my own car was sweetened with the knowledge that I had just had one of the best driving experiences of my life and I could finally tick that elusive box.
For more information, visit the Euro Motors Ferrari showroom in Sitra or call 17 734-734.