By on November 15, 2019

At a private event in Rome this week, Ferrari introduced its newest model — the Roma. Described by Ferrari Commercial Director Enrico Galliera as an automobile for “people who would like to drive a sports car, or a Ferrari, but are a little bit afraid of Ferrari and sportscars,” it boasts one of the worst marketing taglines imaginable.

It also has a key fob that’s embarrassing to carry around — assuming shame is an emotion still within your repertoire.

While high-performance exotics aren’t widely known for being tasteful, Ferrari has always had a thin veneer of respectability brands like Lamborghini lacked. Owning one gave off the impression that you might have a mild appreciation for brand heritage or some interest in motorsport. At the very least, the prevailing prejudices would presume you were a probably a car snob with strong opinions and nuanced tastes.

Unfortunately, the Roma (Rome) and its gaudy key are helping to dissipate that formerly effective illusion. 

We assume Galliera was attempting to highlight the Roma’s role as a grand touring car. The actual slogan for the model is “la Nuova Dolce Vita” (the new sweet life). But Galliera’s line seems far more informative on how the brand sees its future customers.

The Roma is exceptionally handsome, sleek and clean looking. In all honesty, it’s probably one of the most attractive Aston Martins this author has seen in years. Sadly, it’s supposed to be a new model from Ferrari. Maybe that explains why the company decided to give it a key that’s literally a hood ornament. “No, I swear it’s a Ferrari,” you’ll plead to strangers who have no interest in interacting with you. “I have this giant rectangle in my pocket to prove it!”

Evidence of the key was provided by Top Gear’s Jack Rix, who was in attendance of Roma’s reveal. “New Ferrari key… way more visible when you drop it in the bowl on the way in,” he joked while sharing photos.

Ferrari’s previous key was similarly unsubtle, boasting branded lettering and red paint. But it still managed to offer a smidgen more good taste than this new one does. Here’s our guess as to why:

The Ferrari brand lives and dies by its name. It doesn’t engage in a lot of advertising — relying on race events, media feedback, and its own merchandise (where it makes a lot of money) to do the work instead. And it’s hoping to expand its branding/merch efforts via new products and a partnership with Giorgio Armani on high-end wares. More merchandise means more eyes on the company and more prospective customers. Because someone who already owns a Ferrari probably won’t bother spending $400 on a branded red watch or puffy jacket — but someone who bought those items and doesn’t own a Ferrari probably wants one rather badly.

Step two involves the Roma itself. Based on the Portofino, it’s likely to be a more affordable way to get into the brand. New customers will assuredly want to let the the world know what they’re driving and the shameless key does a lot of the plug work for them.

If you’re interested in the Roma, it comes with a turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 making 612 horsepower (a bit more than Portofino) at 7,500 rpm and 561 lb-ft of peak torque. Banging through the model’s eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic will have 62 mph coming on in 3.4 seconds, according to the manufacturer. 124 mph is said to be available in 9.3 seconds, with the top end settling in at 199 mph. Dry weight is a claimed 3,245 pounds.

Electronic trickery abounds, with Ferrari Roma offering torque vectoring (via individual brakes), an adaptive spoiler, slide-slip control (version 6.0), and more. It also has a modern-looking interior that isolates driver from passenger in their own little pods. It’s a slight departure to be sure, but perhaps one that plays into its customer base — just like that hideous key.

Sales are expected to commence next summer with a price tag slightly higher than the Portofino’s $215,000 MSRP.

[Images: Jack Rix/Twitter; Ferrari]

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29 Comments on “As Big As It Is Ugly: Ferrari’s New Key Fob...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Does it also light cigars?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    What can be wrong with a large, yellow Ferrari key? Come on! Its fine Key!

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Classy good looking car. Shown in Subtle colors and no fakey doo sheilds.
    Then they go talk all that crap, and the hideous key thing.
    Can one order a fob delete.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Just give me a key with no electronics, I can take to Ace and have a new one made for $5, I hate key fobs, they take up too much space in my pockets. I prefer just to unlock doors and crank the vehicle with a normal key.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The top of the key fob flips up and inside are tiny crackers, a small spreading knife, and a generous helping of fromage.

    (Why pay for this vehicle when a Mustang Mach-E GT is just as quick?)

  • avatar
    redapple

    Strongly prefer the 458.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The car looks nice enough, in an “I’m just here to show off how much money I have” kind of way. I feel mostly bored and annoyed with all exotics at this point.

    The key is perfect for the tastes of the markets where sales are growing the fastest: China and the Middle East.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Exterior styling is more reminiscent of a new, mid-trim Porsche, or an Aston Martin.

    It’s not unattractive, but is borderline generic, and it fails to even mumble Ferrari.

    The interior is a low down dirty shame, and nothing short of something that KIA could (and does) beat.

    Needless to say, the FOB is idiotic and gaudy, like many things from Ferrari “merch,” so no big surprise there…

    (I’m getting better with typos typing these responses quickly from a phone.)

  • avatar
    conundrum

    If this Roma car is generic, I’m a Martian. The car isn’t generic — not a plastic fake wind tunnel intake and exhaust in sight, nor three or four “character” lines running all over the sides. If it were so easy to present an overall shape without excresences, everyone would do it, but they don’t. Or can’t. Toyota would screw up the styling of a soup can. Like the Autoextremist, I think the Roma’s fantastic, what the Camaro should have been if GM still had professional stylists, but the Envy of Wealth group is out in full force today. You know, jeez, the brigade that says the Escalade can do way more than this “thin veneer of respectability” classic Italian hotshoe Ferrari. Missing the point is the basis of the tpical classic comment around here. A Mustang Mach-e. Ah ha ha h Right. And then there’s more of Posky and his handed down from on high pontificational judgment at large, yet again. Give it a break. Ferrari limits supply and coins major dough, so how unrespectable is that, denizens of Capitalism HQ? Thin layer of respectablity? What a hoot. What is respectable these days? A Silverado 1500?

    All new fobs are annoyingly large compared to that most simple of implements — the key. But I know, I know, in the old days of earlier this year, I got short of breath from the unduly harsh physical exercise of twisting a key in the ignition once too often while scarfing down a wet toppings burger with gooey red hot dripping machine-made grilled mozza lighting up my crotch. To hell with the key system! It had to go! I set off the panic alarm in my new chariot getting out of it to pump gas yesterday, because da fob was in my left pants pocket and caught the seat bolster on the wrong button on the way out. Would the Ferrari dingabob be any worse? I suppose, if you wear tight pants in the first place for that effortlessly wealthy, tanned and fit member of the elite look. Oh wait, we’re talking old fat rich men with the loot to be able to buy a Ferrari. Of course they give you a day-to-day working fob, the badge one is for the trophy case.

    Mass envy, that’s all I’m seeing here.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      conundrum,

      In the late 60’s, Ford triumphed over Ferrari in the only race that has ever mattered. (Haven’t you seen the movie?) Ferrari has never recovered. And anyone purchasing a Ferrari since that time is clearly settling for second best.

      Now, do you seriously think I’m proposing a Mustang as an alternative for a Ferrari buyer? My sincere apologies to you and to the billions of satisfied Ferrari drivers around the globe.

      Regular fob plus trophy fob – that’s pretty cool.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Thousands of satisfied Ferrari drivers. I looked that very question up today and I don’t think from the 40’s until now there are more than half a million cars on the road so even if you include former owners who still wax nostalgic for the prancing horse you won’t get more than a few million.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    The Roma looks like an exquisite, one-off coach-built special. Spectacular.
    The key fob is amazingly stylish.

    Imagine how much we care about some yanks passing judgement on Italian design…

    JK: We really do care about you (especially your money), and value your opinion (like the drawing of a 4-year-old), but we know who’s who when it comes to design and so do the minority of yanks with taste and old money who appreciate automotive art instead of renting orange Lambos to cruise in front of restaurants in Florida.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Everyone: “This Ferrari doesn’t look good. I don’t like the inside/outside/whole thing. It doesn’t even seem like a real Ferrari.”

    New Roma owner: “Which Ferrari do you own?”

    Everyone:

    • 0 avatar
      AtoB

      Depends why you bought it in the first place:

      1) If you’re shallow and insecure enough to have bought it solely to impress others then their opinions matter whether they own a Ferrari or not.

      2) If you bought it solely for your own satisfaction then no other opinions matter.

      Of course that’s true of any car whether it be a Bugatti or a 10 yo beater Yaris.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The sheet-metal is beautiful, but silver does it no service.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Where are all the center console C8 haters? Instead of a wall-o-buttons this appears to have a Tied-arch bridge with an iPad on one end and a shoe stretcher in the middle.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    A beautiful car and I don’t agree I think it looks beautiful in silver.

  • avatar
    Noble713

    Agreed, the exterior looks too much like an Aston Martin (that’s a compliment), while the interior is “meh” for a $200,000 car. If I wanted a front-engined Ferrari I’d get one with a V12. Ferrari’s snobbishness makes that unlikely for a first purchase (don’t you have to “level up” your purchases?), unless you pay the insane price premium for a used 599 GTO. The 812 Superfast puts this car’s interior to shame IMO, so neither the engine nor the interior is satisfactory.

    But I’m a Lamborghini guy, so I’d just buy a Huracan Evo or a RWD LP580-2 and forget all about the Prancing Horse.

  • avatar

    Based on limited exposure to Ferrari Guys-
    They have the matching shoes, phone case and belt. All are quite tasteful with small prancing horse.
    The Ferrari hat is a muted shade of grey.
    There is another ferrari lifestyle accessory.

    More brand ID wear than any other brand.

    The big fob is going to be left clearly out for everyone to see in some social circles, and will be a humblebrag apology in others, but will be noted in all.

  • avatar

    The car looks like an Italian version of the Brit/German Aston Vantage

  • avatar
    Number6

    So the same company that whores itself out with cologne, pens, umbrellas, coffee mugs, lanyards, water bottles, phone cases, briefcases, teddy bears, sneakers, “shopper bags”, pen, erasers, Fanny packs, back packs, condoms (give it time), and wallets has somehow crossed a line with tastelessness. Makes sense to me.

  • avatar
    mcs

    “Yeah, I was gonna buy a Ferrari, but you know, the key FOB was too embarrassing to carry around, so I went with a KIA. Now they make a classy FOB. I don’t know how those Ferrari guys can live with themselves.”

    Who cares about the key FOB. If it’s designed right, you just keep it in your pocket or wallet and never take it out. Besides, in a world of multi-million dollar Koenigseggs and Paganis, Ferrari isn’t that impressive these days.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Isn’t Roma the colloquial name used to refer to individuals of Romani ethnicity in Eastern Europe? It sounds more Italian than “gypsy.” I don’t know about Italy, but I used to live in an area that had pockets of Romani settlers and one could always tell them out in public as the women all appeared to be going for a 1950s debutante look and the men looked to be straight out of The Godfather. Big, bold, and garish…seems appropriate for the name.

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