October 18, 2021

Ferrari Portofino M Distills The Essence Of The Ferrari Myth For Everyday Pleasures – Forbes

Portofino M adopts the 611-horsepower Roma version of Ferrari’s 3.9-liter V8, a gain of nearly 20 … [+] horsepower over the previous Portofino. Roma’s 8-speed dual-clutch transaxle is also ad…….

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Portofino M adopts the 611-horsepower Roma version of Ferrari’s 3.9-liter V8, a gain of nearly 20 … [+] horsepower over the previous Portofino. Roma’s 8-speed dual-clutch transaxle is also adopted, with slightly different ratios. More power, a gearbox that shifts in neural fashion, beautiful chassis balance, and the ability to drop the metal roof for moonlight drives. Portofino M is the best front-engine V8 open GT car on the market. Like its Roma brother, Portofino M is so responsive and flawlessly calibrated it almost feels alive.

Mark Ewing

Portofino M distills the essence of the Ferrari myth and pours it into a vessel many people can comprehend and enjoy. Cruising top-down, a moonlight drive with fresh ocean air, you’re the leading man in the art house film of your own imagination.

Milky early morning light shows the gentle curves of the tonneau cover, fenders and rear valance. … [+] Also, the rear diffuser is a new design, separate from the bumper cover. Note the depth of the diffuser.

Mark Ewing

Like California T and Portofino before it, Portofino M is a docile, wieldy craft for trawling beach neighborhoods of my native California—Laguna, Lido, Corona Del Mar, Naples Island. Many a Portofino M will never leave such enclaves, never be more than a few miles from the sand, only exercising power in quick blasts from stoplights on Pacific Coast Highway.

Portofino is a 2+2 GT convertible with rear jump seats. Front seats now have denser padding, … [+] allowing slimmer proportions, gaining a few microns of rear leg room. The seat frames are formed in magnesium. The rear seats are for soft luggage on a long weekend trip, or two petite friends coming along to the sushi bar. Leg, shoulder, and elbow room up front is considerable. Portofino M is a very comfortable place to spend time, for both the petite and the tall and broad-shouldered.

Mark Ewing

On the mountain, on a 2-lane back road, the art house film changes from romantic to action-adventure. Top down, looking over the fendercrests on short mountain straights, sounds reverberating off sheer rock faces pearlescent with dew, reverie sets in. For a few moments, you can be Fangio or Hill, Castellotti or Collins headed for glory in a 1950s Ferrari sports-racing car. Except Portofino M is reliable, smooth and comfortable, the HVAC flowing warm air over neck and shoulders.

Roma and Portofino M engines are part of the same V8 family found in the mid-engine F8 Tributo. The … [+] block that comes out of the foundry is the same, but the machining is obviously different for the mid-engine car. Portofino M and Roma versions have a 1mm shorter stroke hence a slightly smaller displacement figure. Compared to Tributo, all the ancillaries are similar yet different, from upper intake to turbos, exhaust, and scripting.

Mark Ewing

“M” signifies adoption of the 611-horsepower Roma version of Ferrari’s exquisite twin-turbo corporate V8, with a gain of nearly 20 horsepower. Roma’s 8-speed dual-clutch transaxle, derived from the 989-horsepower SF90 Stradale hypercar’s gearbox, is also adopted with slightly different ratios to best suit Portofino. Ferrari’s neural-quality electronics and stability control upgrades and extensions are also part of the bargain.

Pirellis are 245/35-20 up front, and 285/35-20 at the rear. Note the massive carbon-ceramic discs … [+] and big calipers. No shortage of braking capability.

Mark Ewing

Man-machine relationship combined with tidy proportions allow most people to understand Portofino M almost immediately, the car becoming familiar within 10 or 15 minutes, an extension of self. Most neophytes need time to acclimate to a mid-engine car like Ferrari Tributo, to adjust to the sensation of being placed so far forward. Same applies to the 812 Superfast’s extremely long hood. Such cars are other-worldly compared to more conventional luxury coupes and sedans.

Ferrari signature crackle finish paint on the airboxes. Heads are also finished in red crackle, but … [+] are less easily seen. These two pieces dress the engine compartment properly. Ferrari offers numerous optional carbon-fiber panels to further dress the engine compartment—season to taste. Portofino M, Roma and mid-engine Tributo all share the same engine block, which is comparable to the foundation and wooden framing of a home. Roma and Portofino M have a stroke that is 1 mm sorter, hence the slightly smaller displacement compared to Tributo. But the fundamentals are much the same. It’s a Ferrari.

Mark Ewing

Powertrain and electronics are so flawlessly integrated, so seamless that on the hunt Portofino almost feels alive, like riding the back of a giant cat. A half-dozen full-tilt launches on a long, lonely dogleg straight running through a high mountain meadow proved that nothing’s lost in translation from Roma.

Above the clouds, the marine inversion layer that often blankets Los Angeles in the early morning … [+] hours. Here, blue skies. Carbon-fiber rocker sill is obvious in this photo, along with the pinched waist. Note the beautiful upsweep of the rear fender line.

Mark Ewing

And here again, the synaptic shift quality of the new 8-speed gearbox and all the scripted delivery of torque emphasizes that the transaxle hanging between the rear wheels is just as important as the engine. There’s no hard THONK on the 1-2 shift, no awkwardness. Shock-free shifts every time.

Portofino M has five distinct calibration settings for response and feel of powertrain, steering, … [+] suspension. Wet slows things down, and is also relatively plush. Comfort is best for around town. Sport and Race are for the mountains, or for Midnight Grand Prix. ESC is best on a track, or for being a hooligan in an empty parking lot burning up the rear tires with first- and second-gear slides and donuts.

Mark Ewing

Shifting gears rapidly up and down, using the manual shift paddles behind the steering wheel, creates a Portofino symphony: upper intake dancing at high revs, mixed with rich baritone turbo gooosh that is particularly strong when dipping deeply into the throttle and immediately following an upshift. Voluminous bass-baritone exhaust in Sport and Race settings completes the sensory immersion, a big brass section. Any Ferrari neophyte invited along for a drive will be entranced.

Cabin is fairly wide, ample leg room up front. Those with broad shoulders and long legs will be … [+] comfortable. Portofino is for long trips in beautiful country, but is docile and well suited to life in a beach neighborhood. This is the easiest of all Ferraris to drive, to live with. Fundamental analog controls for HVAC and audio on lower dash center, with greater depth on touch screen. Slim copilot’s display keeps the passenger engaged, and allows easy operation when on the move.

Mark Ewing

Sure, the Roma and Portofino M engine and gearbox symphony are subtler than big brother 812 Superfast’s 789-horsepower V12 screaming to 9000 rpm, arguably the greatest naturally aspirated engine currently offered.

Slim copilot’s display keeps the passenger engaged, and allows easy operation when on the move. … [+] Directly linked to main display. Copilot can manage music, navigation, plus track speed, revs, lateral g-forces in cornering, gear selection.

Mark Ewing

But any car that can slip under 3.5 seconds to 60 mph and cover a quarter-mile in the 11-second range will set the adrenals afire. Ferrari’s corporate twin-turbo V8 is easy to exploit. Launching Portofino M from standstill to far beyond high speeds brought the same involuntary war whoops generated doing the same in a V12 Superfast—what a beautiful way to greet the early morning light.

RACE mode lets the rear end sway all over the place under full-tilt acceleration. COMFORT is best … [+] for the puss-wagon duties. SPORT is lively and sharp. Turn off stability control and you can paint the pavement with donuts or slide around corners. But realistically, Comfort and Sport are the only two you’d use. WET setting slows down reactions to help compensate for the panic of unskilled drivers. 

Mark Ewing

More than any other company, Ferrari understands that driving is both a function and a sensual experience, beyond spec sheets and measurable performance. Ferrari blends sensory input in a manner no one else can replicate. In most German sporting GTs, it’s a wartime experience when driving hard, a mechanical function the rest of the time. In a Ferrari, it’s cinematic, it’s art house.

Key to paradise. Note the little pocket to hold the fob. Launch button for ultimate performance, … [+] mandatory for a Ferrari, yet not used much in a car like this.

Mark Ewing

Seat controls moved to touchscreen. More fundamental seat controls remain on the side of the seat … [+] squab (tilt, fore/aft, etc). Set up the seat onscreen, save to memory, then minor adjustments on the analog controls. Thoughtful use of touchscreen.

Mark Ewing

Because Portofino M’s job description includes cruising beach enclaves, it’s no surprise the options list features a suit of safety technology: rear cross traffic warning, predictive emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with a Stop & Go function, blindspot monitoring, lane departure warnings and traffic sign recognition.

Top up, Portofino has classic Ferrari GT lines. Note the interesting gap at the base of the rear … [+] glass.

Mark Ewing

Reason enough to drive up a mountain in pitch dark. To see the clouds below while descending a … [+] mountain road.

Mark Ewing

Purists might scoff, but all these technologies are valuable at lower speeds in crowded venues, where half the fun is the distraction of smiling back at your admirers. Truth is, even reaching my favorite mountain route requires schlepping through traffic, even at 5 AM.

Aero outlet on side has a “blade” of sorts. It integrates into design like vents from 1960s designs. … [+] It is not obvious, yet along with rockers helps adhere and control airflow along the side of car. It is the exact opposite of track-focused supercars with aero elements that are made obvious. Everything on Portofino M is subtle and graceful. Along the outside perimeter of headlights there is also an aero channel.

Mark Ewing

Before ticking off carbon-fiber pieces to dress the interior or engine compartment—I consider the carbon-fiber steering wheel with built-in LED rev indicator a mandatory option—order the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) for life in crazy California, or crazier Miami. Don’t skip the radar or surround view, either.

Portofino M on the mountain

Mark Ewing

On the hunt these safety technologies do not impact your status as a virile male—you can turn them off. Instead, they pay dividends when you commit that ultimate act of automotive faith and generosity, tossing the keys to your favorite college student home for Christmas break, eager to meet up with her childhood best friend for a shopping expedition and afternoon drive that cleanses the soul.

Ferrari Portofino M is the easiest of all Ferraris to own and drive with style. Note carbon-fiber … [+] chin piece.

Mark Ewing

Ferrari Portofino M gauges. Tachometer dead ahead, yellow face.

Mark Ewing

Ferrari Portofino M.

Mark Ewing

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