Say ‘hello’ to a new Ferrari: the Portofino

That’s right! It’s a new Ferrari! Set to replace the California, the Portofino will feature a host of improvements over its predecessor, along with new styling, a new chassis and more power! The question is: Will it be a “real Ferrari?”

The Ferrari California has remained the “entry-level” Ferrari for nearly ten years. Despite the length of its life, the California was never truly accepted until it was given new turbo-charged life with the California T for 2015. In many ways, it was too soft. The California’s looks were smoothed out; the edges softened, the corners rounded. The engine made a decent noise – when compared to a Mini – but it fell far short when compared to that of the 458 Spider. Its ride was smoother, but its abilities and intensity limited. The California was a great car, but was it a “real Ferrari?” Many felt not, and unfortunately the car went largely unnoticed by much of the Supercar world. Ferrari did manage to essentially remedy the problem in 2014, by adding in a turbo, bringing an additional 101 hp, and picking up some more aggressive styling cues. Now, they have taken that lesson forward to produce an all-new car.

The Portofino, which is set for a September debut in the Frankfurt International Auto Show, will arrive for the 2018 model year as the new Ferrari drop-top GT. While it hasn’t completely lost the downturned nose of the California, it certainly does have significantly more aggressive styling, and brings with it a new color: Rosso Portofino.

Along with better looks, the Portofino features a new, lighter, more rigid chassis to accompany its turbocharged V8. While being significantly lighter than the California T, the Portofino pushes out an additional 40 hp with the help of new pistons, connecting rods, and software. The increase in power and wieght reduction means the Portofino makes it from standstill to 62mph in just 3.5 seconds. Ferrari has also spent some time “enhancing” the sound from the Portofino’s exhaust.

The Portofino has also been fitted with Ferrari’s E-Diff3 electronic rear differential with F1-Trac. Ferrari has also decided to give the Portofino electronic steering, with a steering ratio reduced by seven percent. The damping system has been improved as well, to provide a better ride and performance simultaneously. Just in case you’re not sure what all that means, I’ll tell you. It means the Portofino can corner… aggressively.

Ferrari hasn’t stopped at looks and performance either. The Portofino features a new 10.2″ touchscreen infotainment system, new A/C, new seats (which Ferrari claims “boosts legroom for rear seat passengers,” although you may still have to decapitate them to close the top), a new steering wheel and a new wind deflector.

So it sounds like the Portofino could finally be a winning combination for an “entry-level” Ferrari. It’s fast, it looks good, sounds good (we expect), the top goes down and it might even fit unusually small adults into the rear seats. It sounds like, dare I say it, a “real Ferrari.” Although, I have to say, I’m still not that excited.

Those of you who who know me or have read a lot of my work will know, I love Ferraris. Ferrari is the only brand that consistently makes cars that make me want them more than anything else. I love the looks, the sound, and perhaps most of all, the way they drive. And for some reason, I’m still not that excited about the Portofino. Maybe it is just leftover criticism from the California, or maybe it is the fact that deep down I know Ferrari may never give us what we truly want: a bloodthirsty, drop-top, GT with ALL of the aggressive styling of the 812 and the very same V12 in the front.

 

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