Ferrari Portofino: The Compromised GT

What makes a car great? It is the question every automotive journalist thinks they know the answer to but alas, they’re all wrong. I’m going to tell you what it is…
Just kidding! I don’t have the first clue. What may be phenomenal and adrenaline-rushing to me might be scary and obnoxious to you. Fact is, we’re all different. Different strokes for different folks—you ever hear that one? That one liner sums up the automotive community perfectly. It is the exact reason why you see people with chromed-out Lamborghinis, hotrods with hydraulics, and JDM racers with a muffler that sounds more like a popcorn maker than an exhaust note.
They are all car aficionados or automobile enthusiasts and/or purists as many of them would describe themselves. All with separate takes on what a truly great car looks and sounds like.portofino 1This brings me to the Ferrari Portofino; the marque’s latest and greatest drop-top coupe. With 600 horsepower, 650 some-odd pound feet of torque from its 3.9L V8, and looks that will make you say minchia, it certainly seems to have all the ingredients of a real Ferrari.
So, end of essay. Just kidding again.
The Portofino is what you get when you try and please everyone. It has to be a luxurious cruiser but also maintain the heart and soul of the prancing stallion. A tough feat, but it’s been done before. Can the Portofino do it?
Well, let’s start with the acceleration because that is probably the first facet of the vehicle that will stand out immediately to the driver (apart from its looks which I’d give a solid 7/10). The 488-derived twin-turbocharged V8 is utterly magnificent. Ferrari really has nailed the whole turbocharging thing. They give it the characteristics of a naturally aspirated engine (fruity at high RPMs and with a linear power delivery) with the upsides of a forced-induction engine (better fuel economy and higher output).portofino 2.pngLet me make myself clear: the Portofino is fast. It is faster to 60 mph than the Ferrari Enzo—A MODEL WHICH WAS NAMED AFTER THE MAN HIMSELF AND IS WORTH OVER A MILLION DOLLARS TODAY. That’s real-world speed right there, folks.
What the Portofino doesn’t have is that banshee V12 noise though. The valves stay closed until 3,000 RPM and if you’re cruising in 5th, 6th, or 7th gears, it’s completely void of cool noises. I have a problem with that because ever since I was a little boy, I could tell which cars were Ferraris solely based on the noise. Now, little kids will have to decipher whether they’re hearing a BMW M3 or a Portofino. That is sad. It’s not to say that the noise isn’t good but it’s certainly not great. And in a convertible Italian “supercar,” you want noise that will make you scream: bellissima! portofino 3.pngI apologize, but I’m afraid it gets worse from here because aside from the brakes, the Portofino’s dynamics are lacking to say the least. Ferrari’s newest electric-assisted steering gives zero road feel. Mid corner grip seems to be absent. To top it all off, that huge amount of power can get you sideways in an instant if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve never driven a car with such snap oversteer in my life. All is hunky-dory with the top down, the wind in your hair, and next thing you know, your 250,000-dollar GT car is in the trees. (Not that I know from experience or anything.)
This takes us back to the part about compromise. The Portofino was not designed to rip up canyons or backroads. Instead, it was designed for a person who could drive it to and from work everyday with little effort so the steering had to be light. Being a Ferrari though, people tend to drive it in a sprightly manner which exposes its inherent weaknesses. Ergo, what I did.portofino 4The 7-speed dual clutch gearbox is speedy but not up to par with Porsche’s PDK transmission just yet. Upshifts are instantaneous but downshifts could be better.
The last downside I’ll mention is about the infotainment. Yes, it is better than, say, the California that came before it but even a Smart car has more intuitive controls than that. The touch screen in the Portofino is laggy, cumbersome, dreary, and worst of all, will disconnect your iPhone if you much as drive over a pea-sized pebble. And for whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to get the temperature controls right in the cabin. It was either too hot or too cold. I was never comfortable with the folding top up.portofino 5Despite all the downsides of the Portofino, people are still going to gob them up like a fat kid eating mojos at Shakey’s Pizza. Why? Because it is the best sporty GT on the market right now.
But what about the SL63 and Bentley Continental? Both are fabulous GT cars in their own right but neither sound or handle as well as the Portofino. Not to mention the extra flair the stallion brings to the party.
How about the Aston Martin DB11? I’ve never been a fan of the styling of that car or with the way it drives–something is just off. It seems to be overshadowed by the fabulous DBS (which is in a different league).portofino 6Customers, or clienti as Ferrari calls them, will love the Portofino. It will do everything they want—all whilst carrying that hallowed cavallino badge on the hood. The Portofino wasn’t engineered with my demographic in mind. I’m better suited to the manic 812 Superfast (if only I could afford a $450,000+ super-GT than I would). So, who am I to say that this car isn’t great? I’m just some punk wearing Pumas.
So in short, the Portofino is a mesmerizing, tantalizing, alluring, eye-wateringly beautiful, car. Just not through these eyes.portofino 7.pngGrazie per averci visitato!
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