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FER­RARI SWAPS CAL­I­FOR­NIA FOR PORTOFINO, A 600BHP CON­VERT­IBLE NOW ON SALE IN MALAYSIA.

Golf Vacations (Malaysia) - - Collection - BY DARYL LOY

From Day­tona to Cal­i­for­nia, Ital­ian su­per­car man­u­fac­turer Fer­rari is known to have an affin­ity for Amer­i­can names. But its lat­est launch sees the par­ent state of San Fran­cisco and Los An­ge­les re­placed by some­thing much closer to home: the tran­quil Ital­ian fish­ing vil­lage of Portofino.

The new Fer­rari Portofino made its way onto Malaysian shores via of­fi­cial distrib­u­tor Naza Italia re­cently. Whether home or abroad, the con­vert­ible su­per­car has big horse­hoes to fill as it re­places the Cal­i­for­nia T, one of Maranello’s big­gest com­mer­cial suc­cess as far as its front-en­gined rear-wheel-drive sports cars go.

De­spite be­ing the most af­ford­able car in Fer­rari’s cat­a­logue, ev­ery mov­ing bit be­neath the Portofino’s slen­der frame is of un­mis­tak­able su­per­car qual­ity. Un­der the el­e­gant hood is the same 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 that pro­pelled the Cal­i­for­nia T, but up­rated to pro­duce a whop­ping 600bhp and 700Nm of torque. In a two-door car that weighs un­der

1.7 tonnes, that out­put is enough to launch the Portofino to 100kph from a stand­still in just 3.5 sec­onds. Keep the throt­tle pressed and it will do 0-200kph in 10.8 sec­onds with top speed rated above 320kph.

The Portofino’s V10-ri­valling per­for­mance owes to the ex­pert power man­age­ment of the seven-speed dual clutch trans­mis­sion im­bued with Fer­rari’s For­mula One pow­er­train ex­per­tise. Other elec­tronic sys­tems that are in place to help the driver max­imise the Portofino’s po­ten­tial safely in­clude a new elec­tronic rear dif­fer­en­tial (E-diff3) in­te­grated with F1-trac, an elec­tronic power steer­ing (EPS) which is 7 per­cent more re­spon­sive and a mag­ne­torhe­o­log­i­cal damp­ing sys­tem (SCM-E).

“The Portofino is go­ing to be a game changer. It’s got­ten more mas­cu­line (than the Cal­i­for­nia), and in terms of us­abil­ity, there’s more space. Also, the ground clear­ance is a bit higher so it’s nicer to drive,” said Damian Woo, Na­tional Brand Head of Naza Italia.

Other crea­ture com­forts that boost the Portofino’s us­abil­ity as a daily sports car in­clude a 10.2-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, 18way ad­justable elec­tric-pow­ered seats and new wind de­flec­tors that re­duce in­tru­sive air-flow by up to 30 per­cent dur­ing top-down driv­ing. Speak­ing of which, the re­tractable roof folds away in just 14 sec­onds at the press of a but­ton.

All of this tech, per­for­mance and sig­na­ture Fer­rari styling comes at a base price of RM948,000 be­fore du­ties and cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions.

“We are con­fi­dent in the Portofino’s sales prospects. Price­wise, it is Fer­rari’s en­try model. The Cal­i­for­nia T is al­ready a good role model – it was a great suc­cess. It’s a jour­ney for our clients to start with a car they can drive ev­ery­day like the Portofino fol­lowed by other mod­els in the fu­ture,” added Woo.

Also present at the launch of Malaysia’s new­est Fer­rari was Datuk Sam­son Anand Ge­orge, Au­to­mo­tive Group CEO of Naza Cor­po­ra­tion Hold­ings. He shared Woo’s op­ti­mism about the Portofino, stat­ing that “this in­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile V8 GT (grand tourer) de­liv­ers sporty el­e­gance, ex­treme per­for­mance, high­tech in­no­va­tion and lav­ish com­fort in a com­bi­na­tion that is ideally suited to our cus­tomers’ au­to­mo­tive de­sires.”

“We al­ways we look for­ward to the lib­erty of a ro­bust econ­omy which will help us con­duct our busi­ness bet­ter. Fer­rari has got a strong fol­low­ing in Malaysia. It’s a niche mar­ket but for the last three years we’ve been grow­ing and hope­fully we will con­tinue to grow this year,” he added when ques­tioned about the brand’s busi­ness prospects amidst a fast-chang­ing eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment.

What bet­ter way to keep up than in a 600bhp Fer­rari?

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