Ferrari_Portofino_JulieFerrari Portofino is named for a fishing village on the Riviera coast in Italy, a name we feel is much is more appropriate than Ferrari California, the model the Portofino replaces.

Portofino is the entry level model in the Ferrari range. ‘Entry level’ that is if your automotive budget is under half a million dollars, indeed you can pick one up for just under $400,000 plus on-road costs.

Top up, or preferably down, Ferrari Portofino is simply brilliant from any angle, perhaps the best looking of all the Italian marque’s masterpieces – and that’s saying something.

Our car was finished in Argento Nurburgring, an excellent shade of silver. Dare we say, we reckon this colour looks better than red?

An aside on colour choices; we once spent several hours behind the scenes at the Ferrari Classiche Department which is adjacent to the factory in Maranello. The lady in charge of Classiche shook her head when talking about owners of Ferraris which left the factory in another colour – and were subsequently repainted in what she calls “resale red”.

The big 20-inch alloys on the Portofino are styled to perfection and carry Pirelli P Zero tyres. Adding to the visual appearance are the optional yellow brake calipers.

Inside, the blue leather trim works beautifully. This is very much set up as a driver’s car, with the instrument panel dominated by a central tachometer with programmable digital screens either side of it.


The 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine produces 600 horsepower (441kW) of power at 7500rpm. Torque is impressively high at 760Nm from 3000 rpm. Drive to the rear wheels is by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Zero to 100 km/h is listed as just 3.5 seconds – and it feels like it.

The latest Ferrari 10.25-inch touchscreen is exceptionally clear and significantly easier to read than the one it supersedes.

The optional JBL Premium audio system was a bit wasted on us – top down down with the engine sounds and fresh air flowing past is just so right when you live on the Gold Coast.

We won’t harp on about the high cost of options on the Portofino, but paying $6793 for Apple Car Play does seem a bit over the top.


Portofino hasn’t been rated by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but its ability to stay out of trouble is impressive and it does have many passive features, including multiple airbags.

Push the red starting button on the steering wheel and the twin-turbo V8 rips into life with a roar that lets you know it’s ready for business. It then settles into a slightly uneven idle which is a delight to the ears of all who love hot V8s.

We ran the big Portofino in Sport mode most of the time – as you do – and loved the very fast response to the throttle, Ferrari really does have turbo-lag cut to almost nothing.

There’s nothing like the redhot pace of development in F1 racing engineering – and it’s an open secret that some of the money you pay for a Ferrari road car is moved across to the race team in exchange for feedback on all aspects of engineering.

There’s a seemingly endless thrust of torque all the way through the rev range and the automatic transmission instantly selects the correct gear in milliseconds.

This big sports machine feels smaller and lighter when cornering than it has any right to. Doubling the suggested speed on any bend is simple, while still leaving a good margin of safety.


Feedback though the steering wheel and the seat of your pants is impressive. And the oft-overused phrase, “the feeling of man and machine being as one” does come to mind.

Comfort using the Ferrari Magnaride system can be altered electronically for normal or sports use and there’s even a setting for rough roads, not that we took the Portofino onto corrugated dirt roads to test it.

The fast-acting (just 14 seconds) folding-roof system operates at roads speeds of up to 40 km/h, meaning you can easily drop or raise it at traffic lights.

Front seats are surprisingly comfortable for a sports machine, holding you in place without being overly aggressive. Just right for a car aimed at grand touring rather than a track day blasting.

There are sort-of back seats for occasional adult use, preteen children can get sort-of comfortable.

In heavy traffic some supercars used to be a nightmare. Not so the Ferrari Portofino, a serious incident on the Story Bridge in Brisbane saw us crawling for half an hour to cover just four kilometres. The big Ferrari never missed a beat, idled without any fuss, and never showed the slightest sign of overheating.

The dual-clutch auto is poor at very slow and jerky at parking speeds. This is not unusual with this type of gearbox and it’s exacerbated in the Portofino by the 285 mm wide tyres seeming to fight against the change of direction when they are on full lock in a parking situation.

Would I buy a Ferrari Portofino with my own money? Yes, most certainly, but would hold onto our existing Fiat 500 by Gucci – one of the Portofino’s cousins – to use when we wouldn’t be happy at leaving the Ferrari unattended.


Portofino 3.9-litre two-door convertible: $399,888 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Ferrari dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Ferrari Portofino 3.9-litre two-door convertible)

Capacity: 3.855 litres
Configuration: V8
Maximum Power: 441 kW @ 7500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 760 Nm @ 3000-5250 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 245 g/km

DRIVELINE: Seven-speed F1 double-clutch automatic

Length: 4586 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1938 mm
Height: 1318 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1644 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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