Prior to 2008, Ferrari had never before featured a forward mounted eight-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection ahead of the driver, or a dual-clutch automatic transaxle at the rear, or for that matter, a power-folding hardtop. Each of those brand first features appeared all at once on the Ferrari California, which was for Ferrari, a modestly styled ride from the stable of the Prancing Horse. Many described it as a Ferrari for the fairer sex. The California was followed by the Ferrari California T, which incorporated twin turbocharging to its resume. This in turn prompted the creation of the latest retractable hardtop convertible – the Ferrari Portofino.
The Ferrari Portofino for 2019 is a more Ferrari-esque 2+2 retractable hardtop that has grown not only in stature, but in power output as well. It is aptly named for a romantic Italian village on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
It didn’t seem possible, but the Portofino exudes a higher degree of elegance than the two California models that preceded it. It takes on a more stylish, more sophisticated persona with seemingly only simple design modifications, that never-the-less evoke a dramatic effect. Its stance is now 0.1 inch lower and it ‘s 1.1 inches wider in the rear. It is also lengthened by 0.7 inch.
The Portofino is in a word gorgeous, looking more like a Ferrari is expected to look. Its lower, wider stance is sleeker and more aerodynamic. It’s also lighter.
The grille takes on a new look with turned up edges and a blacked out treatment. There are functional air intake slots at the outer edge of each of the headlamps for brake cooling and the exit is via new stylish integrated quarter scoops.
Dual fairings tail off from the rear seat headrests into the decklid effecting a visual break in what would otherwise be simply a large flat panel with little personality. With the retractable roof raised, the resulting headrest spears tend to sleekly continue the profile of the greenhouse through to the tail of the Portofino.
Motive force for the new Ferrari Portofino comes from the same basic engine powering the California T that it replaces. The engine is a forward, longitudinally mounted , 3.9-liter-90 degree twin-turbocharged V-8 with Direct Fuel Injection that has been enhanced to produce 31 more horsepower and 4 additional ft./lbs. of torque for 591 horsepower at 7,500 rpm along with 561 ft./lbs. of torque in a range from 3,000 to 5,250 rpm. Energy reaches the rear wheels via an F1 dual clutch automatic transmission with manual paddle shiftability with large column mounted carbon fiber paddle shifters. There are 7 forward gears plus reverse.
As in Formula 1 cars, the driver is able to change several setup factors of the car utilizing a single, steering wheel mounted selector dial called the Manettino by Scuderia Ferrari drivers, which functions as a commutator switch featuring Comfort, Sport and ESC Off. The engine start/stop button is wheel mounted as well, and there is no traditional gear shift per say – gear changes are manipulated by the column-mounted paddle shifters, with the exception of reverse gear, which is activated by a center console mounted button.
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
As with the California and the California T, the Portofino is a car of exceptional elegance, born with a racing spirit, that showcases exclusivity, master craftsmanship and exemplary refinement. The 2019 Ferrari Portofino displays past spirit and emotions, while also incorporating a wealth of modern technological innovations that focus on enhancing the driving experience.
The Portofino’s breathtaking design continues to showcase a combined effort with Ferrari’s historical partner Pininfarina. The styling exhibits an athletic form with sculpted lines and surfaces that flow gracefully, reflecting ideal proportions with the top up or down. The sides emphasize fluid motion via a strong dynamic line that runs from the stylized “gill” in the quarter panel, through the door, rising above the handle and curving over the rear fender and muscular wheel well arch, to the short overhang of the rearend. The vehicle’s nose develops the overall theme characteristics typified by the convex and concave surfaces that blend harmoniously and effortlessly. The functional slender air vents in the hood are flanked by teardrop headlamp clusters above the slatted “egg-crate” grille and front splitter and lower air vents. The overall styling prompts a host of descriptive terms – curvaceous, racy, breathtaking, stunning, sexy and outrageously beautiful. It sits low, with the wheels and tires nicely filling the wells with no wasted space around them. As with other Ferrari models, the Portofino visually expresses the aura of a fine piece of sculpture, displaying the same level of appeal and elegance with its top up or downwith proper proportions in either mode. The coefficient of drag is now 0.31 – it’s 6 percent slipperier than the California T.
The Ferrari Portofino’s interior serves up the same tasteful sophistication as the exterior. The leather seating features special stitching, perforation and unique detailing. Occupants sit low in the car, which is exaggerated by the high, rising beltline. Switchgear is positioned for optimum ease of use, and the analog gauges are highly legible.
The power retractable hardtop operates in 16 seconds in either direction at the touch of a switch.
My test 2019 Ferrari Portofino wore a Rosso Portofino exterior finish – (a dark red, almost maroon metallic tint), with a Nero Tradizione interior featuring Charcoal toned trim and Carbon Fiber elements, as well as Red double stitching The base sticker was set at $210,783. It was outfitted with 23 options that totaled $70,429. Along with the delivery fee of $3,750. Optional fare included: the special paint color, Black Brake calipers, Carbon Fiber underdoor cover and rear air ducts, Scuderia Ferrari shields, front grille Black chrome edges, sport exhaust pipes, parking camera, adaptive front lights+ SBL, electrochromic rearview mirror, Magneride dual mode suspension, colored special stitching, full electric seats, foldable rear seat backrests, , passenger display, high power Hi Fi system, Apple CarPlay – Android Auto is not currently available), yellow tachometer, carbon fiber dashboard inserts, central bridge and cup holder, exterior sill kick in carbon, carbon fiber driver zone+LEDS. The final price before tax and license amounted to $284,962.
Piloting the Ferrari Portofino delivers a rewarding sensory experience that certainly tops a static viewing. The car instills an overloading of the senses, with everything going for it. Every gear-head is sure to delight at the authoritative rumble emanating from the powerful turbocharged V-8 and its Sport Exhaust system. Acceleration off the line is astounding, (even without utilizing the Launch Control feature) unless of course you want to simply cruise about, displaying its elegant beauty in a more civilized, relaxed and leisurely manner. The Ferrari Portofino is totally comfortable in either scenario.
The F1-style steering column mounted paddle shifters allow maneuvering through the gears with instant responsiveness. The seating is exceptionally supportive, with a feeling of spaciousness in the cockpit. The quality of the ride is pleasingly compliant, especially considering the car’s ride height and low profile performance rubber. The handling is indicative of typical “Ferrari” characteristics– with positive on-center preciseness. The Portofino remains flat over challenging twisting and curving and backroads, without any tire slip. Yes, I could’ve pushed harder, but when one entrusted with this kind of sophisticated performance machinery in the form of rolling sculpture, why press your luck by taking unnecessary chances.
The twin-turbo V-8 is so potent that Ferrari has limited peak torque in first, second, and third gears. From fourth to sixth, the computer manages torque, gradually allowing more power input, with only seventh gear receiving the full potential. Below 3000 rpm, the engine is relatively quiet; above that, prepare yourself for an exhilarating ride.
The 2019 Ferrari Portofino is positioned as the Italian automaker’s entry level vehicle but it impresses as so much more, evoking true Italian passion. The Ferrari spirit and ideals are destined to pay homage to patriarch Enzo’s legacy
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Ferrari Portofino
Base Price: $210,783.
Price as Tested: $284,962.
Engine Type and Size: 3.9-liter-90 degree twin-turbocharged V8 with Direct Fuel Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 591 @ 7,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 561 @ 3,000-5,250 rpm
Transmission: F1 dual clutch automatic with manual paddle shift ability (large column mounted carbon fiber paddle shifters– 7 gears plus reverse.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front– Independent double wishbone.
Rear Independent Multilink
Brakes: Power-assisted Carbon ceramic four wheel discs, with ABS, EBD and F1-Trac Stability Control.
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero 245/35 ZR20 front / 285/35 ZR20-100Y rear, mounted on 5- spoke Silver painted alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 105.0 inches
Length Overall: 181.0 inches
Width: 76.3 inches
Height: 51.9 inches
Curb Weight: 3,668 lbs.
Turning Circle: 36.8 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 18.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 16 mpg city / 23 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.31
0 – 62 mph: 3.1 seconds – Top speed 199+ mph
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.