While the California T may not be the first car you think of when you think Ferrari, in its 10-year run it became the best-selling car of all time for the legendary Italian sports car manufacturer and the just-released Portofino looks to take that record and improve upon it with a more aggressive design, a punchier engine, and much, much more.
First announced on August 23, 2017, the Portofino was seen for the first time on September 7 in the charming Italian village of the same name. Just like its predecessor, the California T, the Portofino is a grand touring 2+2 hard-top convertible, which means it’s aimed, at least in theory, to be a daily driver and an introduction to the exotic world of Ferrari ownership.
If the success of the California T is anything to go off, then Ferrari looks to have another winner on its hands. After all, the Italian brand sold more than 11,000 units of the California T, 70% of which were conquests from other brands; a tremendous feat for a renowned carmaker with an inherently small potential customer base. The Portofino also has the distinction of being one of the last production cars released under former CEO Sergio Marchionne’s tenure, who is widely credited as doubling Ferrari profits in just four years.
We were lucky enough to get our hands on one of just a handful of units available for media to test drive worldwide and shoot in the countryside around our headquarters in Berlin, Germany. Here you’ll find original stills and videos showing the Portofino in action, in addition to the specs that could just convince you to head to your local Ferrari dealership should you have (at least) $215,000 to burn.
A winner of the Red Dot: Best of the Best award, the Ferrari Portofino is more Ferrari than the California T could ever hope to be. The top folds up or down in just under 15 seconds and can be activated when driving 30mph or slower. With the roof up, Ferrari fanatics will spots hints of the fabulous late ’60s Daytona, while with the top down, the silhouette’s “grintozo,” or grittiness, really comes through. Regardless of how you choose to drive it, the aggressive nose is borderline threatening when you catch it coming up quickly in your rearview mirror.
Keen observers will notice that the form of the large radiator grille opening, which stretches from edge to edge of the nose, is underscored by a new full-LED headlight assembly with a more horizontal shape. The outside edge of the headlight hides an air intake which vents into the front wheelarch and exits along the flank to reduce drag.
The tail design continues this approach with a sporty stance enhanced by placing the tail lights further apart.
Inside you’ll find a 10.2-inch HD infotainment system that has Apple CarPlay capability, alongside front and rear-parking cameras and voice command functionality. Hits of carbon fiber appear throughout, but not in an intrusive or garish way compared to other models in its class. Perhaps the only questionable design detail are the two rear seats that are practically functionless as actual seats and really only serve as additional trunk space, which Ferrari’s designers clearly took into consideration as they fold down easily to allow for more storage room.
A small but noticeable difference is the air conditioning unit. Owners of the California T will notice that the cooling unit is 25 percent faster than before and 50 percent quieter…although it’s hard to argue if that really matters when you’re flooring the Portofino in Sport mode.
Like any Ferrari, what’s under the hood is just as important, if not more so, than what’s on the outside.
Lift the hood and you’ll find a beautifully crafted 3.9-liter, 90-degree, flat-plane-crank, twin-turbo V8 engine. 591 horsepower means you’ll get from 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds and to 124mph in just 10.8 seconds, with a top speed of 198mph. Incredibly impressive numbers, especially when you consider that the Portofino is meant to be an entry-level daily driver.
All the chassis and body-in-white components, meanwhile, have been redesigned with a consequent reduction in weight and an increase in torsional rigidity. Despite the same V8 turbo engine as the California T, the Portofino now punches out 40cv more than its predecessor’s power unit thanks to new components and specific calibration of the engine management software.
At 3,668 pounds, the Portofino comes in 176 pounds less than the California T and despite being 0.1 inch lower than its predecessor, its ground clearance is notably higher than others in its class.
The Ferrari Portofino starts at $210,783 (€189,704 in Germany, with prices varying by country), though with the options most will want to walk away with, that number quickly rises to $250,000+. The model pictured, for instance, was equipped with a $4,300 touch-sensitive display for the passenger. Find out more details and configure your very own model here.