La Bella Macchina

The Fer­rari Portofino com­bines scin­til­lat­ing per­for­mance and stun­ning looks with gen­uine us­abil­ity

EDP Norfolk - - MOTORING - WORDS: Chris Pick­er­ing

UN­DER THE BON­NET

The Fer­rari Portofino is based on the old Cal­i­for­nia T, but the changes un­der the skin are sig­nif­i­cant. For a start, the power out­put is up by 40PS, tak­ing the to­tal to an im­pres­sive 600PS (592bhp in old money). That’s enough to give the Portofino true su­per­car pace, with a 0-to-62mph time of 3.5 sec­onds and a top speed in ex­cess of 199mph.

HOW IT DRIVES

It goes with­out say­ing that the Portofino is mon­u­men­tally quick in a straight line. What’s re­ally im­pres­sive, how­ever, is the way that power is de­liv­ered; the V8 snaps for­ward with in­stan­ta­neous re­sponse and a pal­pa­ble lack of in­er­tia, all the way up to its 7,500rpm red line.

It’s a sim­i­lar story with the han­dling. The Portofino’s hy­per alert-steer­ing cuts like a knife, de­liv­er­ing the sort of agility that you sim­ply don’t ex­pect from a 2+2 grand tourer. It’s al­most dis­con­cert­ingly sharp ini­tially, but within a few miles the Fer­rari’s ra­zoredged re­sponses be­come sec­ond na­ture.

Flick the F1-style ‘Manet­tino’ switch back to Com­fort mode, how­ever, and ev­ery­thing re­laxes. The ride is gen­uinely com­fort­able, the seven-speed dual clutch gear­box that de­liv­ered such light­ning-fast shifts in Sport mode shuf­fles smoothly in the back­ground, and the ac­tive ex­haust valves close to mod­er­ate the noise. Raise the fold­ing metal roof and the re­fine­ment takes an­other step up, al­though you do also lose some of the V8 sound­track.

AT THE WHEEL

With its finely sculpted de­sign, driver­fo­cused lay­out and lash­ings of car­bon fi­bre, the Portofino’s cock­pit is un­mis­tak­ably Fer­rari. There’s a rea­son­able amount of space in the front and the op­tional 18-way ad­justable sports seats prove re­mark­ably com­fort­able. Fer­rari de­scribes the rear seats as ‘suit­able for short trips’, but this is a bit op­ti­mistic un­less you’ve got very small chil­dren. They do, how­ever, pro­vide a use­ful ad­di­tion to the 292 litres of boot space, which al­ready puts the Portofino to­wards the up­per end of its class for prac­ti­cal­ity. That’s clearly a rel­a­tive term, but there’s more than enough room for two peo­ple.

FI­NAL SAY

The Portofino suc­ceeds in blend­ing Fer­rari’s trade­mark dy­namic ca­pa­bil­i­ties with true lux­ury car lev­els of com­fort and re­fine­ment. It’s per­haps not quite as cos­set­ting as some of its 2+2 GT ri­vals, but it more than makes up for that with a sharper, more vis­ceral driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – one that’s wor­thy of the fa­mous pranc­ing horse badge.

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