Having served as the base model since 2008, Ferrari unexpectedly pulled the plug on the California T last year, replacing it with the much more dramatic looking and better sounding Italian named Portofino at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Now though, the local arm of Ferrari, Scuderia South Africa, has added the Portofino to its model line-up, and I managed to get up close and personal at its recent unveiling in Johannesburg.
Named after a village on the Italian Riviera, the Portofino incorporates Ferrari’s latest styling language to a tee with sharp edges, sleek lines and a healthy amount of aggression that was lacking in the California T. It also features clever designs in the form of various vents and louvers to improve aerodynamics.
I found the front-end to be particularly inviting thanks to those headlights and large front grille with the Ferrari emblem in the centre. The Portofino’s biggest charm though is that it retains the California T’s retractable hard-top, meaning it goes from an authentic berlinetta to a gorgeous drop-top in 14 seconds. Doing this also means escaping from a different kind of music to the one playing on the JBL sound system.
Nestled underneath that long bonnet is the same 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 found in the 488 GTB, albeit turned to produce 441KW/760Nm in the Portofino. Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, Ferrari claims a top speed of 320km/h and 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds, helped further by a new technical innovation called Variable Boost Management that adjust torque delivery whenever the next gear is selected.
When negotiating the twisty bits be it on the Riviera or even the Franschhoek Pass, the Portofino comes fitted with the third generation version of Ferrari’s electronic E-Diff, which has now been integrated with the F1-Trac system. In addition, the Portofino is also the first Ferrari GT car to be fitted with electric power steering.
Aside from the layers of quality leather, the Portofino’s interior features a new 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, new air-conditioning switches and one of the biggest draw cards, the multi-button new steering wheel with the familiar instrument cluster with its TFT screens adding to the sense of occasion.
As with all Ferraris though, there is a price to pay and exactly how much you might ask? The best is to take it up with Ferrari themselves, however, watch out for a more in depth look on the Portofino in the coming weeks.