La Bella Macchina
The Ferrari Portofino combines scintillating performance and stunning looks with genuine usability
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.
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.