The 2018 Ferrari Portofino: What’s In A Name?
by Martin Green
With the recent launch of the Ferrari Portofino at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the California T will be officially retired.
Even among Ferrari enthusiasts, this will probably not see many tears shed as the California model line was not as well loved as it might have been. Even the introduction of the more powerful T model with its more aggressive design didn’t rectify that.
The Portofino was created to set the Ferrari record straight. It features stronger, more athletic lines and an aggressive front fascia in alignment with the rest of the cars in Ferrari’s stable.
While I think that the front and, especially, the back of the car look much better here than on the California T, the sides take some getting used to. It has prominent folds in the bodywork, both near the air outlet of the front wheel and at the bottom of the door, which makes the hips of the car more pronounced.
Ferrari’s designers saw the necessity for this to break up the car’s flanks and better catch the light. While the wheel air vent actually serves a practical purpose, it seems a bit much in my opinion, preventing the design from radiating true organic beauty.
Nevertheless, it is overall a major improvement over the California T.
Is the Ferrari Portofino a true GT?
Ferrari positions the Portofino as a GT or Gran Tourer, a car designed for comfort in long-distance touring.
Interesting is, however, that Ferrari went to great lengths to make the car even more sporty: a better power-to-weight ratio has increased performance; it turns more responsively thanks to a 7 percent reduction of the steering ratio; it has an electronic rear differential, dual-coil magnetorheological dampers to reduce body roll; and even the exhaust has been made louder.
That all sounds more like a serious sports car rather than a GT to me.
While we can have endless debates on wither or not the Portofino is a true GT, it certainly is one of the most versatile Ferrari models. Thanks to the fast-folding hard top it can be enjoyed as a coupe as well as a convertible, and it looks great in both modes.
The Portofino even offers room enough to travel with more than your credit card, as long as there are only two of you. Ferrari describes it as a four-seater, and while this may be true for the FF, it is not really the case for the Portofino unless the two people in the back seat are toddlers. But in that case where would you put the stroller?
The interior of the new Portofino is what we have come to expect from a modern-day Ferrari: it is a technical kind of luxurious comfort. The new steering wheel is an obvious improvement; 18-way power seats ensure optimum seating position; and Ferrari also reworked the air conditioning so it works more efficiently when driving in warm weather with the top down.
The Ferrari Portofino has more power, less weight
Of course, Ferrari also worked on the twin-turbo V8 that we know from the California T. It now provides 591 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. As the Portofino is also lighter than the California T, 0 to 100 km/h only takes 3.5 seconds.
The top speed surpasses the magical 320 kph/200 mph barrier.
What’s in a name?
While Portofino is, of course, a lovely Italian city, a true haven of ”la Dolce Vita,” for watch enthusiasts this name also conjures visions of an iconic IWC model.
In that light, it is a bit odd for Ferrari to have chosen it as it as the brand has strong ties with Hublot, while IWC has an ongoing relationship with Mercedes-AMG. In the greater scheme of things, this doesn’t make a difference other than that I prefer my Ferrari named with numbers rather than a moniker.
With the Portofino, Ferrari has made it clear that while this might now be the most affordable car in its stable, there is no such thing as an entry-level Ferrari.
Now with looks to match its performance I am confident that many clients of the legendary Italian brand will agree with that.
For more information please see www.auto.ferrari.com/en_EN/sports-cars-models/car-range/ferrari-portofino.
Quick Facts Ferrari Portofino
Engine: 3855 cc twin-turbocharged V8
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500 rpm
Torque: 561 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm, rear-wheel drive
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 3.0 seconds
Top speed: 200+ mph
Base price: TBD, but bring at least $200,000 to the table
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The most elegant convertible ever created. More of a grand tourer than a sports car, I envision the Portofino in the parking lot of a yacht club,…and without even a speck of carbon fiber as is good and proper.
Dear Shane, Really enjoyed this article and your comment below it. My husband just received his 2020 Ferrari Portofino that replaces his Cali. He’s on cloud nine. Personally, I loved the Californias but always felt that they were just a tad “girly”. This Portofino hasn’t been driven by me…yet but I’ll sneak it out soon. Having grown up with an Alpine Sunbeam Tiger, Corvettes from the 60’s through the 80’s, I do know a little about cars and the appreciation I have for Ferrari surpasses all that came before. Nothing is in the same league. I LOVE Ferrari! All the best. Elise in San Antonio