In Review

Ferrari Portofino 2018: is this the best grand tourer in the world?

Drop-top super car has better electronics and more outright power than the California T, but is the price tag worth it?

Ferrari has just released its all-new Portofino supercar. The new drop-top, which replaces the imperfect California T grand tourer, is designed to rival the critically-acclaimed Aston Martin DB11.   

The Portofino takes its name from a glamorous town on the Italian riviera, a name change that marks the end of the California nomenclature that has appeared on Ferrari’s drop-top sports cars since the 1950s. 

The new car is powered by the same 3.9-litre engine as the California T, but Ferrari has upped the power output to 592bhp – an increase of 40bhp over the old model. 

With 561lb-ft, the Portofino is capable of launching from 0-62mph in 3.5secs and on to a top speed of over 199mph.

It looks set to improve on the California T’s weaknesses, but can it compete with the DB11 at the top of the grand touring market?

Here’s what the critics think:

Reviews

Step inside the Ferrari Portofino and you’ll be treated to a hi-tech cabin with a part-digital dashboard and a new 10.25ins touchscreen infotainment system, says Car magazine. It’s a “big improvement” on the California T. 

The seats are new and can be dropped “right down on the deck” for drivers wanting a racing car-like seating position, the magazine says. Plus, there’s an 18-way control panel for the seats, allowing you to adjust them for the perfect fit. 

But the air conditioning controls are “flimsy”, says the magazine, and the graphics in the instrument binnacle look “a little dated”.

On the road, the Portofino boasts enough power to generate “serious thrust” and the noise from its turbocharge V8 engine is also “pretty spectacular”, says Auto Express.

Carbon ceramic brakes are offered as standard. They’re “massively powerful if you stand on the [brake] pedal really hard”, the magazine says, but they can be a bit sensitive at lower speeds.

Autocar says the Portofino’s ride becomes “jittery and restless on a vaguely undulating surface in ‘sport’ mode”. There’s also some “body shudder” over very poor road surfaces. 

Nevertheless, the supercar handles well through fast corners thanks to Ferrari’s “lateral body control” and “incredible handling response”. 

Verdict

Those who were disappointed by the California T may revel in the Portofino’s added versatility and more luxurious interior, says Autocar.

While this makes the new car feel like a more “authentic Ferrari”, the magazine argues that it doesn’t quite live up the class leaders in the grand touring market. 

What’s more, the magazine adds, there are several mid-engined supercars on the market that would be more pleasant to drive on a 300-mile road trip.

Auto Express disagrees, saying the Portofino is “hard to fault” thanks to its “undeniable everyday versatility.”

It may be £6,000 more expensive than its key rival, the Aston Martin DB11, but the magazine says the Portofino is more powerful and lighter than the British grand tourer.  

Price and release

Orders for the Ferrari Portofino are open now, says Auto Express, with prices starting at £166,180.

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