'It’s like having Pavarotti in your ear the whole time, as the revs rise, sing, blip, burble and fall away'
Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader
After driving the Range Rover Evoque, it's time to review the Ferrari Portofino. The newest model by the Italian sports car manufacturer might just the perfect Ferrari, replacing entry-level model California due to its more lifestyle-focused nature as a grand tourer rather than a hardcore sports car. And while the Portofino retains a focus on comfort, it’s a sharper, sportier offering, and ticks all the boxes.
Wow, this car is astonishingly better looking than the California; it's hard to believe they belong to the same family. There's a slimmer derriere, sharper lines and sleek headlights. Our test car came in a matt Champagne paintwork that was subtle and beguiling. With the roof up, it looks like a hardcore supercar; with the folding metal roof curled up in the boot, it screams to be taken on a gentle turn from St Tropez to Nice or, indeed, along the Portofino coastline.
Inside, there’s room for a couple of children in the two small rear seats (I drove my 8 year old and six year old sons 50 miles in it and they were fine; adults will struggle to find leg room). The folding roof takes up much of the boot space, but there’s room for a weekend case and a large bunch of flowers for your host.
It’s all there, but it’ll cost you. Even Apple CarPlay, a standard feature in sub-£10k cars, will set you back £2,400 here. But Ferraris have moved on since it was all about the engine, and you can now specify a rear parking camera, decent audio systems and more.
The best bit, however, is the entire secondary digital touchscreen for the front passenger who can see the speed, the revs and change music stations and more. Might make some control-freak drivers feel a bit twitchy though...
The front seats are thinner than in the California, to create more leg room for the rear occupants. There’s Isofix in the back but any child on a booster will have their legs jutting out too far.
However, this is as comfy as Ferraris get - the suspension is set up for a softer ride so you can travel further without tiring - even in Sport mode, selected via a traditional F1-style “manettino” switch on the carbon-fibre steering wheel, it’s not too jarring.
With the roof down, you could easily drive the whole day and arrive utterly relaxed (albeit with dreadful hair).
This is, of course, the point of this car, even if you never explore the limits: the styling oozes power, and the whole car screams speed. You don’t have to be a petrolhead to sense that something special is happening under the bonnet: Ferrari makes engines like no one else. And even though there are plenty of Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and other Ferraris that are way faster, the 600 horsepower the V8 engine puts out feels like double that amount. It’s like having Pavarotti in your ear the whole time, as the revs rise, sing, blip, burble and fall away, and the road disappears at a rapid rate in your rear-view mirror. It’s a very special, very emotional experience, even for “us women”.
No one really pays base price (£166,000) for a Ferrari: if you’ve got that much money to spend on something as frivolous as a supercar, you’ll be wanting a few creature comforts, like the aforementioned Apple CarPlay. In fact, our test car rang the tills at £248,000. Ooops. You probably don’t need the £10,000 special wheels we had, but you might fancy the embroidered Prancing Horse Ferrari emblem on the headrests (£720) and floor mats with embroidered logo (£768)… the list is endless.
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