Updated: Apr 18, 2020
PRICE : $210,738
ENGINE: 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8
HORSEPOWER: 591 @7500
TORQUE: 560 @ 3000-5250
0-60: 3.5 seconds
Sharing its basic architecture and much of its componentry with the California, the 2019 Portofino has therefore been carefully designed to build on that car's strengths and address its weaknesses. It's lighter, quicker, and sharper to drive, but Ferrari understands that shaving a few more tenths off the 0-60 time isn't as meaningful to this car's customer base as is the increase in the highway cruising range to 460 miles, the 2 extra inches of rear-seat legroom, and the fact the retractable hardtop can now be raised and lowered at speeds of up to 25 mph.
The Portofino's 105.1-inch wheelbase is identical to that of the California, but its redesigned bodywork is 0.6 inch longer overall, 1.2 inches wider, and 0.1 inch lower with the roof up. Ferrari Design's Adrian Griffiths cites the legendary Daytona coup as an influence, and you see it in the way the roof sweeps back to the trunk in a graceful, unbroken line. Roof up or down, tauter surfacing, crisper character lines, and simpler detailing give the Portofino an elegant yet muscular presence on the road.
The interior borrows much from the GTC4Lusso, including the 10.3-inch infotainment interface at the center of the dash and the mini-screen that offers the passenger views of performance data, navigation status, and entertainment information. Combining leather, carbon fiber, and aluminum finishes, it looks and feels plush, albeit with techy overtones. Despite the claimed increase in legroom, the rear seats are still only suitable for carrying very small children very short distances, however.
As part of its evolution from California T to Portofino, the platform has been heavily reworked to lower mass and improve stiffness. Overall weight has been reduced 10 percent, torsional rigidity is up 35 percent, and there's been a 50 percent increase in the rigidity of the suspension mounting points, allowing engineers to equip the Portofino with a more precisely controlled suspension. Front and rear springs are therefore 15.5 and 19.0 percent stiffer, respectively, and the latest iteration of MagneRide dampers better control body motions and reduce roll. At the rear is Ferrari's third-generation E-Diff; up front is electronic power steering, with a ratio 7 percent sharper than the California's.
Under the hood, the California T's 3.9-liter twin-turbo flat-plane-crank V-8 has been upgraded to deliver 591 hp at 7,500 rpm and up to 560 lb-ft of torque from 3,000 rpm to 5,250 rpm, increases of 38 horsepower and 3 lb-ft. Ferrari also claims the Portofino's engine gets to maximum boost 5 percent quicker than the Cali T's, thus improving throttle response. New engine components include a single-piece cast exhaust manifold/integrated turbo housing designed to eliminate internal flanges that interfere with the exhaust pressure waves hitting the turbine, a new free-flow exhaust system, and new pistons and conrods capable of handling 10 percent higher cylinder pressures.
More power and less weight mean more performance, and the $210,738 Portofino has a top speed comfortably above 200 mph and a conservatively estimated 0-60 acceleration time of less than 3.5 seconds. That makes this Ferrari gran turismo quicker than a Mercedes-AMG SL65 roadster, the new Aston Martin DB11 V8 Volante, and the forthcoming convertible version of the Bentley Continental GT, all of which also boast price tags north of $200,000. The Portofino is a mature Ferrari, not a soft one.
With the steering wheel-mounted Manettino switched to Comfort mode and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission left to its own devices, the tweaked twin-turbo V-8 delivers a satisfying surge of thrust whenever you squeeze the gas pedal. The transmission adroitly exploits the meaty midrange torque, quickly selecting the highest gear possible to reduce fuel consumption and noise. The Portofino will happily waft along a country road in seventh gear with the engine turning barely 1,500 rpm.
Twist the Manettino to Sport mode (one stop farther turns off the stability control; as befits this car's intended function, there is no Race mode), press the D button once to switch the transmission to manual, and the Portofino stiffens its sinews and sharpens its responses. Even with the suspension in Sport mode, the ride remains relatively composed, however; despite rolling on low-profile, high-performance tires, impact harshness and wheel patter are impressively suppressed on gnarly roads. Body rigidity is excellent, with no rattles or squeaks—even with the roof up—and few shimmies back through the steering column or floor.
Driven quickly, the Portofino responds best to hard braking before the corner entry and early application of power on corner exit. The steering is light and accurate, but although there's plenty of grip, you don't get much sense of what's actually happening where the front tires meet the tarmac. The E-Diff's active torque-vectoring function—combined with the quicker steering—delivers crisp, agile response on the way into corners and a ton of traction on the way out.
If you want a quicker, more focused Ferrari, buy a 488 GTB or Spider. What's clever about the Portofino is that it's engaging to drive at moderate speeds. Brisk cruising is this Ferrari's forte; it flows beautifully down the road, the chassis displaying delightful coherence and consistency. Roof up, it's a comfortable long-distance tourer and practical daily driver. Roof down, on a sunny day and a winding road, it's a fun-to-drive sports car. And that duality of purpose is exactly what the Portofino's customers want from their Ferrari. Performance of intended function? Nailed.