You can’t help but appreciate a car like this!

The Ferrari California hit the market in 2008, effectively reviving the name after being retired after the Ferrari 365 California back in the 1960s. Said to have originally started life as a conceptual miscarriage that would wear a Maserati badge, the cost of development and production was just too high, and the car ended up wearing a Ferrari badge – effectively becoming known as the most affordable model in Ferrari’s stable. The California was actually a big deal for Ferrari, as it ushered in a new and brought about a number of firsts for the brand. It was the first front-engined Ferrari with a V-8, the first with a folding metal roof, the first to make use of a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and was even the first Ferrari to use a direct fuel injection system. The California name is, yet again, short lived, though, as for 2018 Ferrari decided to revamp the second-generation model which not only included more power and mildly refreshed looks but a new badge as well. Now known as the Portofino, Ferrari has finally rolled the car onto the stage for its world debut, and boy does it look sexy in the metal.

Despite carrying the name of a new model line, the Portofino is every bit the California it replaced with a few enhancements and an extra bump in power. The name is based on a small town known as Portofino that has been considered to be both elegant and exclusive – clearly the motivation behind the Ferrari’s name choice. But, there’s a lot more to the Portofino than its name and the fact that it’s essentially a third-gen California T. It boasts that turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8 from the California, but it was massaged to deliver more horsepower, a tad bit more torque, and even a higher top speed. And it remains the cheapest model with a prancing horse badge at that. With that said, the new Portofino has made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and it’s here to remind us that it’s more than just an upgraded engine and new badge, so let’s talk more about it.

Evolution is Undeniable

The Ferrari Portofino Drops its Top and Steals the Show in Frankfurt AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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At its core, the Portofino carries all of the DNA introduced by the 2015-2016 Ferrari California T. I wouldn’t even be upset if you saw it on the street and confused it for a California – it would be easy to do if you haven’t seen the two next to each other. But, even though it carries a lot of that Cali DNA, it’s also Ferrari’s greatest feat in genetic engineering yet, as the car received a number of new and aggressive body lines and fresh looks everywhere. Where the California had vertical headlamps, the Portofino has more horizontally stretched units. The three-vent configuration in the front bumper even carried over but has been reworked to provide an all-new look. The hood is even more aggressive and sportier than ever.

Even though it carries a lot of that Cali DNA, it’s also Ferrari’s greatest feat in genetic engineering yet

There are now vents next to the headlights that channel air through the front wheel wells and along the flank to reduce drag and improve central downforce at the same time. The side profile itself is even quite similar but has been emphasized even more. The fender vent is larger, the side skirts are more defined, and the rear side glass takes on a four-sided shape.

The Ferrari Portofino Drops its Top and Steals the Show in Frankfurt AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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The Ferrari Portofino Drops its Top and Steals the Show in Frankfurt AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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The new Portofino, with its retractable hardtop, also features a more stretched out roofline for better aerodynamics and a sportier character. The rear end was even refined and enhanced, and the way the rear C-pillars have creases that are much stronger than those on the California is a major improvement and is critical to the design of the rear end. All told, it’s one sexy and attractive package, but what’s more important is what happens inside and under the skin, so let’s talk more about that before we sign off.

The Evolution Carried on to the Interior

2018 Ferrari Portofino High Resolution Interior
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As is the case with any evolution, things haven’t changed much on the inside, either. The Portofino carries a similar looking dash, but the bottom half was redesigned while the top half got a few nips and tucks. The HVAC has smaller and redesigned vents while the infotainment display now measures 10.2-inches, taking up the entire space allotted by the center stack. 18-way powered seats provide comfort and support up front, but they have received a new stitching design, and the back rests have been modified a bit. Ferrari even thought about the passenger and added a small screen to the passenger side that allows for control of the infotainment system as well – not a bad touch for those two-man road trips.

The Portofino carries a similar looking dash, but the bottom half was redesigned while the top half got a few nips and tucks

Other enhancements include an update to the HVAC system to improve comfort with the top up or down, a new wind deflector to cut down air flow into the cabin (no complaining from the mistress that her hair is getting messed up), a revised steering wheel with new controls, and a revised instrument cluster with new display screens.

More Go Because Power is Important

One of the most important items that were carried over from the California T to the Portofino was the 3.9-liter V-8. Now massaged to deliver 592 horsepower, you get 40 ponies more than what was available in the second-gen California, and you get four extra pound-feet of torque to go with it. The sprint to 62 mph takes just 3.5 seconds (a tenth-second quicker) while top speed comes in at 199 mph. The gains aren’t all that impressive, really, but for throwing in an extra 40 ponies, the improvement in sprint times and top speed isn’t bad. Plus, it can hit 124 mph in just 10.8 seconds, so it’s safe to say that merging onto the highway is as effortless as it can really get in a sub-$300,000 vehicle.

The sprint to 62 mph takes just 3.5 seconds (a tenth-second quicker) while top speed comes in at 199 mph

The drop-top grand tourer makes uses of Ferrari’s third-gen electronic differential out back and the F1-Trac system. It also gets Ferrari’s electronic power steering system to improve steering responsiveness while the SCM-E dampening system cuts back body roll and makes for a smoother all-around ride.

Ferrari Portofino Ferrari California T
Engine V8 – 90° V8 – 90°
Overall displacement 3,855 cm3 3,855 cm3
Horsepower 592 HP @ 7,500 RPM 552 HP @ 7,500 RPM
Torque 561 LB-FT @ 3,000-5,250 RPM 557 LB-FT @ 4,750 RPM
Top Speed 199 mph 196 mph
0 to 62 mph 3.5 seconds 3.6 seconds

Final Thoughts

The Ferrari Portofino Drops its Top and Steals the Show in Frankfurt AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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While we’ve known about the changes brought forth by the Portofino, as well as all of the important specs, we had yet to actually see this baby in the metal. And now that we have, all we can really say is "wow!"

With an expected price falling in the $220,000 range, it offers pretty decent bang for the buck, and it looks damn good doing it while displaying one of the world’s most revered emblems. With competition like the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster and the Maserati GranCabrio, life won’t necessarily be easy for the Portofino, but it has all of the credentials and super-model looks to stand its ground as a strong proposition in this segment.

But, what do all of you think now that you’ve seen shots of it on display at Frankfurt? Let us know in the comments section below.

References

Ferrari Portofino

2018 Ferrari Portofino High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the Ferrari Portofino.

Ferrari California T

2015 - 2016 Ferrari California T High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the Ferrari California T.

Ferrari California

2009 Ferrari California
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Read our full review on the Ferrari California.

Press release

Ferrari is delighted to announce a second world premiere in the year of its 70th Anniversary celebrations. The Ferrari Portofino is the new V8 GT set to dominate its segment thanks to a perfect combination of sportiness, elegance and on-board comfort.

Powered by the Ferrari V8 turbo, a member of the engine family that won the overall International Engine of the Year Award in both 2016 and 2017, the new car punches out 600 cv and sprints from 0-200 km/h in just 10.8 seconds. The Ferrari Portofino is, in fact, the most powerful convertible to simultaneously offer a retractable hard top, roomy boot and generous occupant space that also includes two rear seats for short trips.

The new car takes its name from one of the most charming towns on the Ligurian Riviera, Portofino, which has, over the years, has become an international icon of elegance and exclusivity. The new model is also the most versatile model in the range – a Ferrari designed to be driven every day that also effortlessly converts from an authentic ‘berlinetta’ coupé to a drop-top in just 14 seconds, even when on the move at low speeds. A brilliant marriage of design, technological content and performance, it is the perfect car for any occasion.

Two examples are being shown on the Ferrari stand at Frankfurt. The first is in the new Rosso Portofino colour inspired by the picturesque town the model pays homage to. The second has a matte Grigio Alluminio Opaco livery referencing the lightweight metal used to build the entire car. The two new Portofinos are flanked by the rest of the current Ferrari range: a GTC4Lusso in a Blu America livery, a 812 Superfast with new triple-layer grey paintwork from the Tailor Made programme, and the 488 GTB in glorious Rosso Formula 1. The 488 Spider is showcased instead in the Tailor Made area. The version on display celebrates the company’s 70th Anniversary with a livery inspired by the Pinin Farina-bodied 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial spider once owned by Dominican gentleman driver Porfirio Rubirosa.

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