New metal Ferrari shuns California for Portofino. New 199mph 2+2 roadster to replace underwhelming California T. Text by Stuart Gallagher. Photography by Antony Fraser.
Being generous, you might say that the Ferrari California of 2008 onwards is far from our favourite product to have slipped through the gates at Maranello. To call it the modern-day equivalent of the Mondial would be a touch harsh, but even so it’s never looked like a thoroughbred Italian supercar and the current ‘T’ version doesn’t drive as well as its stablemates – or most of its rivals. There is hope, then, that its replacement, the Portofino, will be far more worthy of the badge so many pay so much for.
Certainly, first impressions are good. It actually looks like a Ferrari for one thing: there’s a hint of F12 mixed with 488 GTB about its nose and a pair of tightly tucked-in hips ahead of the rear arches. Ferrari’s design team has also managed to remove much of the bulk that blighted the California’s back end with the roof down. With the roof (still a metal, folding affair) raised, there’s more of a junior-F12 look about the car.
Being 2017 and Ferrari having an F1 team, aerodynamics make it into the press bumpf, which says ‘the outside edge of the headlight hides an innovative air intake which vents into the front wheelarch and exits along the flank to reduce drag’.
Sitting on an all-new, lighter chassis with a body-in-white Ferrari claims has been redesigned with weight reduction and torsional rigidity increases in mind – although no numbers to back this up have been released. The Portofino is also equipped with the company’s latest chassis tech. This includes the E-Diff 3 electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential, which has been adopted with the firm’s F1- Trac stability-control system. It’s also the first Ferrari GT to be fitted with electrically assisted power steering, resulting in steering that’s seven per cent quicker. The magnetorheological dampers have been updated, too, and now feature dual-coil technology to help reduce body roll.
Behind the new nose lies a further evolution of the twinturbo V8 that’s part of the same engine family as the 488 GTB’s unit. Capacity remains at the same 3855cc as in the California T, but new pistons and conrods have been installed and there’s also a new air intake and a new exhaust system to reduce losses and improve throttle response.
Variable boost management is still employed and has been further honed to deliver an optimised level of torque depending on the gear selected. Peak power of 592bhp along with 560lb ft of torque represent 39bhp and 3lb ft increases over the California T (both figures are generated only in seventh gear). A tenth has also been shaved from the old car’s 3.6sec 0-62mph time, with maximum speed lifted 3mph to 199mph.
Being the least aggressive Ferrari you can buy, the interior refresh has focused on comfort. There’s a new infotainment system and steering wheel, and 18-way adjustable front seats that include backrests designed to improve legroom for the rear ‘+2’ seats.
Making its debut at this September’s Frankfurt motor show, the Ferrari Portofino will go on sale later in 2017, but as evo went to press, no price had been confirmed.
“Ferrari’s design team has managed to remove much of the bulk that blighted the California’s rear”
Above right: interior will reflect the fact that this is a more laid-back Ferrari model, and gets new infotainment and highly adjustable seats. Right: Portofino shows elements of F12 in its aggressive front-end design; note the air intakes alongside the headlights, designed to help reduce drag.