The Ferrari Portofino replaces the old California and, like the California, comes with a folding hard-top. This is also the Italian brand’s entry-level model in the range. Ferrari says the California sold well, and we’re quite sure the Portofino will take things up a notch.
One has to look at the Ferrari Portofino in the flesh; it looks incredible. While the California was the first among Ferrari Cars to have a bulbous rear-end, the Ferrari Portofino seems to have had that issue resolved. It looks like a Ferrari and in the ‘Portofino Rosso’ colour, it looks exotic. It gets a lot of heads turning and we thank the stunning looks for that. There are many aero elements on the Ferrari Portofino, but not to the extent of the car looking overtly aggressive. It features L-shaped headlamps up-front and it gets ridges at the rear that aid downforce. You will also notice vents on the sides that channel air from the wheel arches to the sides of the body. The roof is made of metal and closes/opens in 14 seconds. Ferrari Cars have made this car lighter, a bit roomier and what one must appreciate it is just how well the roof tucks itself away. The Portofino looks like a fastback with the roof up, and it looks like a proper open-top GT with the roof down. There are no unnecessary lines and the boot is surprisingly usable.
The car is made on a new chassis, which is said to be stiffer than the car’s it replaces, while the weight has dropped by 80kgs and the car features an electro-mechanical steering, instead of the old hydraulic one. The Portofino is powered by a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 from the California T but has been entirely revised, producing 591bhp.
GT or sportscar?
You sit very comfortably in the car, be it in the driver’s seat or the co-passenger’s seat. Getting in and out isn’t difficult and visibility is good. The front seats provide good support and everything around is built from good stuff. It even features a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system that gets Apple CarPlay; you get all the required information through the screens that flank the yellow tachometer, and like all Ferraris, the controls are mounted on the steering, including the manettio dial. You also get options like a carbon-fibre steering with shift lights. There’s a separate 8.8-inch side touchscreen that displays navigation, gear etc. The Portofino also gets a manually retractable wind deflector and when it is in place, there isn’t much turbulence at high speeds. At the back, there is decent legroom, but only for children.
Behind the wheel
The Portofino can sprint from 0-100kph in 3.5 seconds; this is cruiser. The engine revs all the way to 7500rpm and there’s lots of torque on offer too; it responds well to throttle inputs and there’s a progressive build in power delivery. The exhaust sounds good once you start closing in on the redline. The 7-speed twin-clutch transmission works best when you use the paddle-shifters and it works in a quick fashion. It does get hesitant in Auto mode and the car doesn’t creep when you lift your foot off the brake. The electric steering is direct; it does have some weight to it but the car demands much of your attention on highways. The handling response is great and the car is always happy to be chucked into corners. For as long as the stability controls are working, the car is willing to do what you want it to. The Portofino is surprisingly good, but it’s not what you’d call supple. The magnetortheological dampers make the ride that bit softer.