The Portofino Performs

The Portofino Performs

Ferrari’s new Portofino redefines the convertible experience with jaw-dropping acceleration and head-turning style, writes Brenda Ward.

The little boy peered round his Dad, eyes like saucers. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the red supercar that was burbling along behind them as they walked on the country lane.

There’s no doubt about it, driving the Ferrari Portofino is going to get you noticed.

Even if it didn’t have shiny scarlet paintwork, the throaty roar of its 3.9-litre V8 turbo motor arrived before it did, soon letting you know it’s there. I defy anyone not to look around.

Get used to it. That kind of attention is part of the deal when you drive this NZ$375,000 2+2 sportscar.

The Portofino replaces the California and ushers in a new era of convertibles. With the roof on, it’s a sleek coupé-convertiblewith curves and class. With the press of a button, the top drops into the boot cavity, leaving you carefree and with your hair blowing in the breeze.

Leaving the Continental Cars Ferrari’s Auckland showroom, I immediately find myself having to merge in dense traffic. Fellow drivers courteously make space for me.

Idling while waiting for the motorway on-ramp lights isn’t even a chore. The revs drop but the car behaves impeccably.

I ease the car along Auckland’s northern motorway, building up to road speed. Using the paddles, the car switches effortlessly through the seven gears, always responsive to the lightest blip of the throttle. So much horsepower, so under control.

On the twisting route through Waiwera to Warkworth, north of Auckland, the acceleration is astonishing. In auto, it’s more mannered, but always pulls enough revs to sing through the corners.

There are some clever features. If your passenger would like to know your speed and the camber of the corner as you wind through it (and who wouldn’t?), there’s a passenger read-out.

It also shows the music you’re playing off your phone.

At last I spot a passing lane and three slow cars struggling up the hill. I switch lanes and a tap on the throttle later sees the car just a blur as it accelerates from 50km/h to 100 in seconds.

It’s been clocked accelerating from 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds, but the joy of the Portofino is that you don’t need to speed to its maximum speed of 320km/h. Its controlled acceleration is like hitting a switch, fun to play with, without the fear of tickets.

Even on this poorly maintained road, there’s hardly any vibration and the car stays rock solid on the road.

Reluctantly, I return it and walk around the vehicle, checking out the level of luxury I’ve enjoyed. The seats are finely tailored leather and although they’re low, it’s easy to slip into the driver’s seat, with wide doors that don’t get in the way.

Boot space is more generous than you’d expect – there’s room for a couple of bags, even with the roof stowed, after slipping across a divider.

But let’s not talk practicalities. If you wanted to take a load, you’d use your other car. Right?

Published 21 February 2019

Story by Brenda Ward

This article does not contain any financial advice and has not taken into account any particular person’s circumstances. Before relying on it, we recommend you speak with a financial adviser.  This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that we consider are accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.


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