Considered head on, there may be only a trace of Ferrari’s final V12 flagship, the F12 Berlinetta, on this new Portofino M. It is the pair of intakes that sit low and extensive aside within the bumper, including menace to the entrance finish. Just like the Portofino earlier than it and the California and California T earlier than that, this 2+2 convertible performs a really explicit position inside Ferrari’s mannequin line-up. These new air intakes, nonetheless, are indicative of a slight change in methodology.
Now with 620hp from the identical 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 as the fixed-roof Roma, the Portofino M is 20hp extra highly effective than the mannequin it replaces. M stands for ‘modificata’, a reference to the tweaks and upgrades which were made to make this a extra sporting automotive than the one which got here earlier than it. With their folding hardtops, beneficiant boots, snug suspension tuning and vestigial rear seats, the California and Portofino fashions are all aimed toward on a regular basis use, in addition to patrons who’ve by no means owned a Ferrari earlier than. However with this newest within the collection, the Prancing Horse has lifted one blinker to additionally eye up extra enthusiastic drivers.
With out desirous to make the automotive any extra demanding in day by day driving or extra intimidating for patrons who is perhaps new to the marque, Ferrari got down to lend its droptop grand tourer among the precision and response that earlier fashions lacked. Extra of the Fiorano, however no much less of the swanky Italian coastal city that gave this automotive its identify.
Round half of California and Portofino patrons hadn’t owned any Ferrari earlier than. Whereas some would transfer on to mid-engined or V12 fashions having had their first style of Maranello, simply as many would stick to the marque’s extra laidback choices. Together with the Roma, the Portofino M is the entry-point to new Ferraris, undercutting the F8 Spider by a full £50,000.
However the place would possibly its newfound dynamism come from? The Manettino driving mode change now has 5 positions, the fifth being a Race mode. It’s in that setting that Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer is engaged, which the corporate describes as ‘a lateral dynamics management system that makes use of Ferrari software program to regulate the hydraulic brake stress on the callipers on all 4 wheels.’ So it nibbles the brakes as you drive by and out of corners, making the automotive’s restrict dealing with really feel extra predictable.
Elsewhere there’s an eight somewhat than seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It is a new transmission that adjustments gears much more quickly whereas additionally bettering gasoline consumption. Ferrari has made styling tweaks inside and outside, whereas a gasoline particulate filter cleans up the automotive’s emissions however robs it of some energy. To greater than win again the horsepower losses, Ferrari’s powertrain engineers elevated valve carry, enabled the turbos to spin sooner and toyed with spray patterns – this wasn’t merely a case of ramping up increase pressures.
With its powered folding roof, the Portofino M is 100kg heavier than the Roma coupe it shares a platform and powertrain with. Because the hardtop folds or unfurls itself, and because it drops into the boot or thumps again down onto the windscreen header rail, you’re feeling your entire automotive jostle and wriggle with the hassle of all of it. In that second, you realise what a burden it’s for any sporting automotive to hold on its again a roof like this one, all that further weight positive to be felt at each braking level and every time you flip the wheel.
The cabin itself is ethereal, although the rear seats are solely any good for babies. Whereas the Roma’s inside seems to be proper updated with its two nice arcs of dashboard and the portrait touchscreen show that lives between them, the Portofino M’s inside belongs to a Ferrari design language that was launched greater than a decade in the past when the 458 Italia was new, and it feels dated due to it.
What I seen straight away upon firing the V8 and pulling away for the primary time is how good all-round visibility is on board the Portofino M. The scuttle is comparatively low, which means you observe the street clearly forward of you, whereas even with the roof in place you see a lot over your shoulders. The low velocity experience is snug and the steering gentle, all of which makes the automotive easy in regular use. Solely the brake pedal, which appears to reply with nothing in any respect proper up till it responds with all the pieces, making the automotive tough to bring to an end easily, undermines how simple it’s to drive by city.
That pliant experience by no means deserts you, at the very least not till you turn into Sport or Race mode. Even then, as has turn into a reflex whereas driving these trendy Ferraris, you press the Bumpy Highway mode button to change the adaptive dampers again to a extra relaxed state, which works so brilliantly on our roads.
That is once you discover the supple chassis that offers effectively with bumps, however whereas maintaining the mass of the automotive in examine over a rising and falling street. The Portofino M has actual physique management, the sort that retains the sump away from the floor of the street once you rattle by a pointy compression, however whereas marshalling the load over crests. This, in the end, is the form of efficiency automotive you possibly can actually chase alongside a B-road, feeling assured at its wheel.
Speaking of which, the steering is measured and pure in its fee of response. Although it does not flood your fingertips with messages, it is not overly gentle or exaggeratedly responsive like some Ferrari methods have been in latest occasions, permitting you to lean onerous on the entrance axle from the primary mile onwards. All of that mixed means it is a droptop grand tourer that stands as much as being thrashed alongside a again street, somewhat than recoiling on the prospect.
And the engine? It is mightier than ever, nonetheless some of the responsive turbocharged engines in manufacturing. Ferrari claims there may be zero lag. It looks like advertising and marketing puff, however I discover it purchase into it. The drive of the acceleration is fearsome, the way in which the torque is delivered – a bit of extra with every new gear – which means that shove does not appear to wane as you shift up by the ratios. There’s just a bit little bit of richness on this automotive’s soundtrack, however not the hovering musicality I would love. No less than the eight-speed gearbox is near flawless, managing to be clean and refined in regular driving, then sharp and responsive in handbook mode.
A major step ahead as a driver’s automotive, then, and but sure truths stay inalienable. A topless automotive will at all times be much less inflexible than a fixed-roof one, as an illustration. There’s some wobble and shimmy within the Portofino M’s construction throughout an uneven street, however lower than you’d discover in an F8 Spider. For one more, a convertible automotive will invariably be heavier than a coupe one. These two issues imply an enthusiastic driver would nonetheless be much better served by the Roma, or higher nonetheless the F8 Tributo.
A touch of the F12 Berlinetta? Maybe. However not more than that.
SPECIFICATION | FERRARI PORTOFINO M
Engine: 3,855cc, V8, twin-turbo
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Energy (hp): 620@5,750-7,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 583@3,000-5,750rpm
0-62mph: 3.5 secs
High velocity: 199mph
Weight: 1,664kg (kerb)
MPG: 25 (WLTP)
CO2: 256g/km (WLTP)