Ferrari Portofino First Look Review


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The Ferrari California has never been particularly well-liked. When it first went on sale back in 2010, it was heavier than the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano but less powerful than the F430. It was also a front-engined, hardtop convertible. But as we discovered on our first drive, the California was “a sporting Gran Turismo totally fit for the purpose, a car of rare ability: a truly great Ferrari.” The updated version, the California T, was an even better car to drive. So the issue was more with people’s perception than with how it drove. In an attempt to change that, Ferrari has replaced the California with a new car—the Portofino.

The first thing you notice is that the Portofino looks much more aggressive than the California. Even as the California T, the front end of Ferrari’s entry-level grand tourer always looked a little like it was wearing a bug-eyed grin. The Portofino’s fascia, meanwhile, looks serious and aggressive. In profile, sharp lines lead back to the Portofino’s muscular, flared rear fenders and a rear end, which prominently features twin circular taillights and a quad exhaust. Some of the styling features might be a little overly aggressive, as if Ferrari is trying too hard to sell the idea that the Portofino is a serious, real Ferrari. But overall, the design works well.

Under the hood, Ferrari has updated the California T’s twin-turbo V-8 so it now makes 591 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the reduced weight of the all-new chassis, Ferrari says the Portofino will hit 62 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds and has a top speed greater than 199 mph. For a car with seating for four, that’s seriously quick. Ferrari also promises zero turbo lag and a retuned exhaust that will wail even louder under wide-open throttle.

And although the Portofino is billed as a grand tourer, Ferrari says it didn’t neglect the handling. It gets an electronic rear differential like you’ll find in the 488 GTB and dual-coil magnetorheological dampers that promise reduced body roll without sacrificing ride quality. The steering ratio was also reduced by 7 percent to increase responsiveness.

But because the Portofino is a grand tourer, Ferrari says it also made sure the cabin is comfortable and refined. You get a 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a new steering wheel, 18-way electrically adjustable seats, and new backrests that help the rear seats feel less cramped in the rare event that a human person actually sits in them. Plus, because this fastback is also a hardtop convertible, Ferrari upgraded the air conditioning to improve passenger comfort when the top is down on one of those hot Italian summer days. There’s also a new wind reflector Ferrari says decreases airflow in the cabin by 30 percent while also reducing wind noise.

Look for the Ferrari Portofino to make its official debut next month at the Frankfurt auto show. Pricing has not yet been announced, but expect it to start a little over $200,000 like the California T.

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