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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?

What’s the Ferrari Portofino like inside?

You’d expect the interior of a £170K-ish car to be pretty good and that’s mostly the case in the Portofino. There’s a large central touchscreen that dominates the cabin, but the buttons underneath that control the heating and ventilation feel a bit cheap.

Ahead of the driver is the traditional large rev counter, framed by two digital screens displaying information such as speed and driving mode. They’re generally easy to read, but can be more difficult to see when in direct sunlight – a serious issue for a car that is designed to have the roof down as often as possible.

What’s under the bonnet?

The Portofino uses the same 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that provided service in the California T, but it’s been reworked by Maranello’s engineers to produce an extra 40hp to give a maximum output of 600hp along with 760Nm of torque. It’s all sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox.

It’s certainly fast, make no mistake about that. Ferrari claims a 0-60mph time of just 3.3 seconds, and top speed will see you hit 199mph (with the roof up, that is).

Bring pitched more towards the grand tourer end of the supercar spectrum, the Portofino has been designed to achieve a claimed 25mpg. With an 80-litre fuel tank, you shouldn’t have to spend much time at the fuel station – compared with a usual supercar, that is.

What’s it like to drive?

The Portofino is pitched as a Ferrari you could drive every day, and as such it’s been designed to deliver less of a razor-edged driving experience than the one you’d find in, say, the 488 GTB.

But this still a Ferrari. Don’t let the idea of everyday usability fool you into thinking this is some blunted, lardy soft-top – the Portofino is still effortlessly and brutally fast. The immediate throttle response makes you wonder if it really is turbocharged, but the wealth of torque available from low revs confirms that this is indeed a blown V8 engine.

The steering feels like it’s lacking somewhat, however. Not because it isn’t accurate, but because it feels just a touch too light for the car. You’d easily get used to it, but we’d rather there was a little more weight in the wheel’s movement.

There’s plenty of front-end grip, however, and the accuracy with which you can place the car in a bend is impressive.

The paddle-shift gearbox is swift and efficient in manual mode, but can be a little dim-witted when left to its own devices as a normal automatic. It hangs onto gears longer than you’d like rather than shifting up, especially since you’re likely to be in auto mode when you want to be cruising rather than hustling.


The new Ferrari Portofino feels far more part of the family than the old California ever did, both in terms of the way it looks and the way it drives.

Its performance befits a car with a Prancing Horse badge, and more than anything it just feels special – which is just what you want from an Italian drop-top supercar.

Go easy on the options and the Portofino appears a relatively good-value purchase; tick a lot of the boxes and this Ferrari’s high price makes it harder to look past some of the little foibles that you would otherwise be happy to put up with.

Similar cars

Aston Martin DB11 Volante, Bentley Continental GTC, McLaren 570S Spider

Key specifications

Model as tested: Ferrari Portofino
Price as tested (on-road): £245,167
Engine: 3.9-litre turbocharged V8
Gearbox: seven-speed double-clutch automatic
Power: 600 hp
Torque: 760 Nm
Top speed: 199 mph
0-60mph: 3.3 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 25 mpg
CO2 emissions: 245 g/km

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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