Sharing its name with an Italian seaside village, the Portofino is Ferrari’s entry-level model – or what it refers to as the ‘everyday Ferrari’ – but with new engine tech derived from the 488 supercar the Portofino is anything but a base model.
Power comes from a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 441kW. It’s a proper Ferrari engine with a flat plane crankshaft and its own distinctive exhaust note, and a 760Nm maximum torque hit, but only in top gear. Like the 488, Ferrari’s Variable Boost Management stages the delivery of torque by ramping up boost pressure from third gear through to seventh for an escalating feeling of thrust.
Redline is 7500rpm and Ferrari says there’s zero turbo lag. A redesigned intake with larger diameter piping and a new intercooler help with that. Acceleration takes 3.5sec to 100km/h and 10.8sec to 200km/h.
The revised exhaust uses variable flaps to alter its tone and volume depending on drive mode, a first for a Ferrari of this type.
A seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle with an electronically controlled differential sits between the rear wheels to distribute weight more evenly. The chassis itself is new, and made with more aluminium to drop overall mass by 80kg compared to the outgoing California T. Torsional rigidity rises by 35 percent at the same time. Kerb weight sits at a respectable 1664kg, even with the retractable hardtop’s complex folding mechanism.
It takes 14 seconds to open or close the lid, which can be operated when moving at speeds up to 40km/h. Having the roof up leaves more room in the boot for luggage, though Ferrari says a pair of carry-on bags will still fit when the roof is down.
Other changes around the car include stiffer suspension. Compared to its predecessor, spring rates are up by 15.5 percent in the front and 19 percent in the rear while Ferrari’s SCM-E electronically-adjustable dampers are standard. The suggestion of tighter body control and improved cornering precision are in keeping with the sports focus Ferrari has been dialling into its entry-level car since the first-gen California.
Portofino is effectively the third-generation of the California that launched almost 10 years ago. The original naturally-aspirated California was replaced in 2014 by the sportier, turbocharged California T, and now the Portofino takes over from that model. According to Ferrari more than 70 percent of people who bought Californias and California Ts in Australia had never owned a Ferrari before, so this car plays a significant role in bringing new customers to the Ferrari brand.
Aerodynamic development of the taut bodywork has reduced drag by 6 percent over the old model, while improving engine bay cooling without increasing the size of the radiator.
Inside the cabin it’s an all new experience that draws in elements of the 488 and even the 812 Superfast. The instrument cluster has a central rev-counter with two 5.0-inch screens either side. A 10.25-inch widescreen display sits in the middle and an optional 8.0-inch passenger display features on the other side of the dash.
It’s 8dB quieter inside than before, according to Ferrari, and there are some lightweight tricks that you can’t see, including magnesium alloy seat structures instead of the usual steel.
Getting into one costs $399,888, meaning Ferrari has in fact cut some off the top of the old car’s ticket price. Buyers have a huge assortment of trim options available to personalise their purchase and customer deliveries are scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of this year.