New car review

Ferrari Portofino test drive

The new Portofino is pitched as an everyday supercar and is a replacement to the California T. Can it succeed where the older model failed?

The Ferrari Portofino is the all-new successor to one of the company’s most popular, yet least celebrated, models of modern times – the Ferrari California.

The California was launched as the new entry point to the Ferrari brand more than ten years ago and its reception, to say the least, was mixed. Purists sniffed it was a little too ‘soft’ to qualify as a true Ferrari, and although California sales were strong (along with the upgraded California T), it never really got into its stride.

So the Portofino arrives as the California’s direct replacement, and although it still retains a four-seat configuration and folding hard-top roof, it’s been designed to offer a more involving driving experience than its predecessor, while still being easy to drive on a daily basis.

What’s new about the Ferrari Portofino?

Although the Portofino features the same 2+2 layout as the outgoing California, it’s actually an all-new car. The sharper and more angular styling bears a family resemblance to its bigger 2+2 brother, the GTC4Lusso, and the flagship 812 Superfast, while the chassis has been sharpened to make it dynamically superior to the car it replaces.

The engine is an upgraded version of the 3.9-litre turbocharged V8 used in the California T, which we’ll look at in more depth shortly.

The Portofino also gets the latest version of Ferrari’s infotainment system, plus a host of other gadgets and gizmos.

How does it look?

While the California was relatively smooth in its design, the Portofino is all angles and cuts. It’s certainly a sharper look, and it gives the new model far more presence and aggression.

It’s a good-looking car in the metal, although the matte-grey paint of our test car did give it a slightly more subdued appearance. It’s still a car that will turn heads here, there and everywhere, which is one of the attractions of owning a Ferrari in the first place for many customers.

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It’s also a car that looks good with either the roof up or down. Some designs are a little clumsy in their incorporation of a folding hard-top, but that’s not the case with the Portofino. In fact, with the roof up you’d be hard-pressed to spot that it was a convertible at all.

What’s the spec like?

That large infotainment system is a fundamental offering in the list of standard equipment included on the Portofino. It’s clear and easy to use, and the satellite navigation can be programmed with little trouble.

You also get full electric seats as standard and they’re comfortable – ideal for long stretches behind the wheel, which befits the Portofino’s rols as an everyday supercar.

But one of the most impressive things about ‘our’ Portofino was the list of optional extras fitted to it – bumping the car’s price up to an incredible £245,167.

Features like front and rear parking sensors (£3,456), 20-inch diamond-forged alloy wheels (£9,997) and various other extras help to lift its price by a hefty amount. Although many people buying a new Ferrari will accept that higher prices are just part of buying a premium Italian supercar, we imagine they’d still baulk at having to pay £2,400 for Apple CarPlay – something that is standard on nearly any new Hyundai or Kia…

Continued on next page: Interior, drive experience and our verdict

Jack Evans
Jack Evans
Articles by Jack Evans are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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