First, Ferrari dropped the 812 Superfast into our laps with zero warning. No rhyme or reason, just sort of, “oh, here’s the most powerful front-engined V12 car we’ve ever made, hope you enjoy it.” And now they’ve up and done the same thing with this: The front-engined, V8 Portofino. The Portofino will be the “entry-level” Ferrari, and, leave it to Maranello to have their basic model crank out 600 horsepower. The Portofino is also the replacement for the now-outgoing Ferrari California T.
Speaking of the soon-to-be-gone Ferrari California T, I bet resale value on those just dropped like an anchor without a chain. For some reason the California was a problematic car for Ferrari. It was tagged fairly early on as the car the plastic surgeon’s third trophy wife would drive. A pity, really, since the Ferrari California was actually kind of fast and stylish and all that. But when you’re stable-mates are the likes of 430 Scuderias, it’s hard not to pale in comparison.
Now, the new Ferrari Portofino looks to burnish away any of those negative thoughts. Yes, it is rather “soft” and Ferrari states this up front: “a GT that represents a unique combination of sportiness, elegance, and on-board comfort.” But a lot of comfort and convenience features and packaging compromises can be overcome by a twin-turbo V8 plant cranking out 600 ponies, no?
In case you didn’t know, the Ferrari Portofino is named after this utterly charming little Italian tourist town that was sort of a haven for the well-healed many decades ago. Ferrari has even gone so far as to come up with a new shade of red: Rosso Portofino.
The Ferrari Portofino is, in many respects, an improved version of the California T. It has a retractable hard top, a sizeable trunk, and a roomy cockpit. The inside is, sadly for the likes of a gearhead like me, anything but Spartan and race-oriented. There’s an overall focus on comfort along with a slew of new tech and comfort features. There’s an infotainment system with a 10.2-inch touchscreen, a new air conditioning system and steering wheel, and 18-way adjustable seats with a new backrest design.
There are even two rear seats that Ferrari says are “suitable for short trips” but, in actuality, are little more than upholstered luggage space. The only people who could fit back there would be legless dwarves, but I am not here to judge you, or your lifestyle choices or make comments on why you would need a second legless dwarf when most of us make do with just one.
That 600 horsepower – actually 600 cv, which works out to around 592 horsepower – is capable of firing this thing from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.5 seconds. Not bad for “entry level.” That V8 turbo puts out 40 cv more than the California T, thanks to new components and engine management software calibration. Maximum speed is said to be greater than 198 mph, which is probably a lot of fun with that top down, as Ferrari points out: “The characteristic Ferrari V8 soundtrack has also been further enhanced and can be fully appreciated, particularly in top-down driving.”
The V8 has also been worked over in relation to being better all around. More power, lighter weight, and more efficient. There’s all-new pistons, con-rods, and a new intake system design. The exhaust system geometries have been reworked and a new, one-piece-cast exhaust header reduces power loss, improves throttle response, and zeros out turbo lag. Variable Boost Management adjusts torque delivery to suit the selected gear for greater levels of acceleration and lower fuel consumption.
For the first time on this type of Ferrari, Portofino buyers will get the benefit of the third generation electronic rear differential (E-Diff3) integrated with the F1-Trac. This is, as the name implies, track derived wizardry that puts the power down to the ground with no muss, no fuss, and all go.
Steering & Suspension
The Portofino also carries electric power steering, dropping the steering ratio by seven percent for more response and is fully integrated with the E-Diff3. The shocks are trick magnetorheological units (say that three times real fast) with dual-coil technology to reduce roll and absorb uneven road surfaces.
Aerodynamics & Chassis
The Ferrari Design department worked closely with the Aerodynamics department (that would be the people with three wind tunnels, CFD server farms that draw power straight from a hydroelectric dam, and work on the aero of F1 cars as their main gig) to ensure maximum aerodynamic efficiency while also looking like Monica Bellucci’s prettier sister. Further, the Portofino’s chassis is all-new and features significant weight savings over the California T. All the chassis and body-in-white components have been redesigned with a critical eye to weight reduction and increased torsional rigidity
The Ferrari Portofino will make its world debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show beginning on September 14th.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.