Ferrari Portofino revealed - 600hp "entry-level" gets serious

22nd August 2017
Bob Murray

Ferrari’s £155,000 entry-level model has left California behind and pitched up instead on the Italian Riviera, in the picturesque harbour village of Portofino. It’s just the place for top-down thrills with 600 horsepower and 0-62mph in a sprightly 3.5 seconds!


This then is the new Ferrari Portofino, announced today (August 23rd)  ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, where it will take over from the California T. There’s even a new shade of red to celebrate the launch: Rosso Portofino. 

Ferrari has given the Portofino a new version of the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 from the 488 GTB as well as an all-new chassis said to be much lighter than the one it replaces. But in a world increasingly going soft in the hood department, Maranello has stayed true to the retractable hard-top, always the California’s USP as well as its burden. 

Roof up or down, the new car is sleeker and more cohesive a design than the old model from any angle. The profile verges on the classical, the new body-colour hard-top (rather than the black of some previous Californias) contributing to what is a remarkable impression of a very sharp-looking fastback coupe. Roof down it’s just as seamless, with only a vestigial roof hump.

There are new LED headlights in the new nose, new side vents and a new tail treatment to better hide all the hard-top gubbins, but you won’t need them: you’ll be able to tell Portofino from California at a glance. 

Ferrari says the Portofino continues to offer the roomy cabin (still with two kids-only seats in the back) and luggage room of its predecessor, making it a practical as well as fast convertible GT. Features inside include a bigger new touchscreen infotainment system, new air-conditioning system, new steering wheel, 18-way electrically adjustable seats and a new wind deflector which is claimed to cut top-down turbulence by 30 per cent. 


Ferrari says the new chassis makes the car stiffer as well as lighter. The Cali T weighed in at a chunky 1,730kg, no weight is given for the new car, though with weight distribution at 46-54 front/rear it is better balanced.

Vehicle dynamics are said to have been ”completely revised” to work with not just the new chassis but also new-tech solutions such as the latest electronic rear differential (E-Diff3), F1-Trac stability control and electric power steering. Uprated magnetorheological damping helps reduce roll for a more dynamic drive and, asserts Ferrari, improved ride comfort.

Putting it all to the test is a formidable engine spec: 592bhp (600hp) at 7500rpm with 560lb ft of torque between 3,000 and 5,250rpm. The V8 has 40 more horses than the California T but there’s no need for the 488 GTB to worry: its V8 boasts another 70bhp.

Changes to the twin-turbo engine include new pistons and con-rods, a new intake system and new exhaust all of course with a new electronic brain to make the magic happen. Ferrari says top down, it sounds better than ever. It’s quicker too with a tenth off the 0-62mph dash, now 3.5 seconds, and top whack of 199mph.

One thing's for sure, Ferrari’s retractable hard-top GT will never be called a hairdresser’s car again. 

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