Ferrari Portofino M Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the Ferrari Portofino M.
Car Tested: Ferrari Portofino M; Road Test No. 1389; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 4,02,85,637/-
Stunning, exhilarating and practical, the Portofino M checks all the boxes for the ideal Ferrari
Jack of all trades and master of some: that’s what the Ferrari Portofino is, an entry-level Ferrari convertible that has to do too many things and excel at most of them. While the Portofino has managed to live up to the hype, Ferrari has now given it a mid-life shot in the arm with the M (which stands for Modificato that loosely translates to modified). But even though I took the liberty of calling the Portofino M as a facelift, there is much more than what meets the eye.
Exteriors – The Ferrari Portofino is a quintessential Ferrari design. Unlike its hardtop cousin, the Roma, the Portofino follows a more classic approach to its design language. I would like to think that the Ferrari Portofino is derived from the design language of the Ferrari La Ferrari, and the Roma derives its design from the Ferrari SF90 Stradale.
Flowing lines across the long hood and grille along with air channels all around give the Portofino M an aggressive look
Walk up to the front of the Portofino and the first thing that strikes you is how long the hood really is! This impression is further exemplified by the headlights, which have a sweeping design that extends backwards. Speaking of the hood, the most striking part about it is the two scoops that aid with airflow and cooling.
Now, this being the more aggressive, latest version of the Portofino, the Portofino M, it gets a more aggressive front end. The front radiator inlets are aggressively placed, and also are shaped as if to give the car a slick smile. Moreover, the angle of the grille itself is more downwards, kind of like the Roma, although not as steep.
Apart from the grille, the headlights are also new. The headlamps integrate very well. Flanking the main inlet are two side vents that exist to channel airflow to the wheel wells and are not for cooling. When viewed head-on, the vehicle really has a really aggressive stance, and looks menacing, especially with the flowing lines on the hood and the grille.
While not as close as the rear, the front of the Portofino M resembles the California T, especially with the design of the inlets and hood, but certainly looks more modern and aggressive.
Moving on to the side, an unintended consequence of the swept-back headlights is that the Portofino slightly resembles the C7 Corvette, especially near the front. However, that is not to take away from the flow that this design manages to exhibit. There is a distinct body line that shoots through the middle, and that is the only straight line that runs across the side. The rest of the side looks almost as if it has melted to the contours of the body. The doorline has a distinct kink at the bottom and adds further to the character of this Ferrari.
The roof of the car can be lowered in just 14 seconds. When in the lowered position, the Portofino M still has enough luggage space to carry 2 travel bags. That number becomes 3 if you put the roof up. Another thing that is worthy of mentioning is that the door handles are the standard ones we have seen in previous Ferrari cars, nothing like the flush ones we saw in the Roma.
The rear is where the Portofino mainly resembles its predecessor, the California. From the circular tail-lights to the flat reflectors positioned at the bottom, you really see the similarities. However, it must be mentioned that the Portofino looks far more aggressive because of the satin/black treatment given at the bottom. Compared to the regular Portofino, the M also gets a retooled rear bumper that does away with the awkward crease at the back of the car when viewed from the side. You now get a much more smoothened-out and curvy design that suits the whole look much better than the regular Portofino.
Overall the design is distinctively Ferrari, and like with almost all other Ferrari cars, looks its best in red. The Portofino M one-ups the existing design and the small tweaks really add up to make the car look far more aggressive.
Interiors – It’s easy to forget that this Portofino M is a grand tourer, with its exterior looks, especially with the roof up. However, Ferrari’s intentions with this car are clear once you climb in.
From the analogue tachometer to the large touchscreen infotainment screen, the cabin is a mix of modern tech and classic Ferrari traits
The interior is a perfect blend of old and new. First of all the seats hold you really comfortably, and are cushioned adequately. Plus with the Portofino M, you even get heated and cooled seats.
The driver’s cockpit is very well thought out and laid. You get physical buttons on the steering wheel, and of course, the drive mode selector dial, which instils so much satisfaction and is so unique to Ferrari, that they kept that dial in the all-capacitive touch steering wheel in the Roma. Also, the paddles are aluminium and are absolutely huge. Furthermore, you get a physical start-stop button, instead of the finicky capacitive one in the Roma.
The driver’s display has that analogue tachometer, again a classic Ferrari element, and the digital displays are present on either side of the big yellow tach. Once again, a good blend of the old and the new.
The dashboard draws slight inspiration from the California T and houses a 10.25-inch horizontally mounted touchscreen which Ferrari has updated for the M. The centre stack has a lot going on, and is very much like a fighter jet in some places, especially with the drive mode selector, which is just 3 buttons laid out vertically.
Keeping in mind the blend of old and new, you get physical buttons for almost everything. While some may say this makes the interior look busy, the trade-off is well worth it for proper dials and buttons for the climate control and volume, and even the headlights.
The Portofino M is technically a 4 seater, but the rear 2 seats are just well-padded storage areas. Except for children, anyone else would find it downright impossible to even fit, let alone manage short distances.
Much like the Roma, the passenger can also get their own mini display that can display various aspects of the car, as well as show music info and the satnav. While the addition of the display certainly makes the car look more tech-loaded, I highly doubt anyone will use it, considering that a high-quality 10-inch touch-screen is available to use a couple of inches away.
You can get the dashboard in dual-tone leather, but the top part remains black, and the bottom part is configurable to the colour of your choice.
Overall the interior is very well laid out and is practical. The quality, is top-notch, and you can easily pile up the miles in this car, such is the welcoming nature of it. However, decide to turn it up a notch, and the seats hold you pretty well, and make that part enjoyable as well without large compromises.
Performance – Thumb the starter button and the Portofino M roars to life, with an exhaust (even at idle) louder than its predecessor. The increase in power by 20 HP only gives you half the picture because, with the M, Ferrari has upgraded the cam profile and the turbo sensors, resulting in the latter spinning even faster. All this just adds some crazy character to the Portofino because the way it builds power now is something sort of ferocious. The debut of the Mannetino switch on the steering wheel with 5 drive modes makes it very clear, this is every bit a Ferrari which is also quite usable. That usability comes courtesy of the lag-less power delivery with Ferrari tuning the engine in such a fab way that in spite of the twin turbos, you don’t have any turbo lag. That said, it’s really the mid-range where this engine starts to come on to its own and then the top-end is so frantic that you are grinning ear to ear as the Portofino M thrusts ahead with enthusiasm, sounding unbelievably surreal in the process!
Twin turbos help the V8 engine redline all the way to 7500 RPM where it screams and sounds surreal
612 HP and 761 Nm is channelled to the rear wheels with great ferocity, enough to break traction in a blink (at least on the far from perfect Indian roads). 0-100 km/hr comes up in 3.45 seconds while 0-200 km/hr takes 9.8 seconds (it’s slower than the Roma as it weighs 100 kgs more as it’s a hard-top convertible). The motor revs really fast and hits the 7500 RPM redline with sweet aggression that makes you want to launch it again and again. The gearbox has been upgraded, it’s an 8-speed dual-clutch unit that’s super quick with shifts, before you blink, it’s already shifted cogs. You can manually take control too but you are just going to end up bumping off the rev limiter, time and again because the engine revs super fast and most of us can’t keep pace with gearshifts, at least not when compared to the automatic gearbox which is just in a crazy hurry. Fuel efficiency, do you really care? It’s 2-6 km/l if you do!
Driving Dynamics – Driving the Portofino M on Indian roads is surprisingly easy as the ride quality is quite compliant (by sports car standards). Switch to comfort mode and you almost forget you are driving a Ferrari, such is the level of suspension compliance. It’s stiff but not unbearably so and then there is a bumpy road setting too. Ground clearance is good enough to tackle most speed-breakers but you will have to angle the car over the bigger ones. Handling is good, not great, it’s not razor-sharp, it’s not supposed to be because like I said, it’s a master of some trades. The steering is light enough at low speeds, weighs up brilliantly at higher speeds and high-speed stability is excellent. Body roll is completely absent and grip levels are fab too. Just don’t expect it to be as good on the track as Ferrari’s mid-engined models. Brakes are superbly calibrated and are carbon-ceramics of course, Ferrari doesn’t do steel discs!!
Verdict – The Ferrari Portofino is a convertible sports car that offers almost every bit of the thrill you would expect from a Ferrari (other than being a track machine, this one is a grand tourer) while being quite practical too. It gives you the wind in your hair feeling and the aural bliss of a Ferrari V8 motor that offers stupendous performance, to say the least. With the M, Ferrari has made the Portifino an even more fun sports car which is also easier to live with.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Ferrari Roma, Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG GT, Maserati MC-20, Audi R8, Aston Martin Vantage
Further Reading –