If last summer I could say I had a beautiful romance with a Ferrari Portofino driving it top-down around the gentle English south coast, what I experienced a few weekends ago with the Portofino M can definitely be called a torrid affair!
M (for “Modificata”) is the more athletic version of the Portofino, loaded with tech innovations that deliver outstanding GT performance, versatility and of course, fabulous driving pleasure. After the Covid-19 slowdown, the Portofino M represents the renewed appetite by the prancing horse for innovation, passion, and the constant pursuit of perfection.
We took it around the Malvern Hills in the Cotswolds, an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty, rich in cultural heritage, varied landscapes and diverse habitats. Not a single head went unturned. Once we felt comfortable in the easier driving positions, we tried the new Race mode, a first for a Maranello GT Spider. Although without being arrested you can’t possibly fully enjoy the Race capabilities, you get many hints as it digs into turns and comes out completely unscathed, roaring its way with that ferocity that only a 620cv V8 Ferrari engine can produce. In Race mode, the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer makes the car’s lateral dynamics more predictable both through and exiting corners by ensuring the steering wheel and throttle are more intuitive for the driver to use… and easier.
On the exterior, the Portofino Modificata differs from the Portofino in details like the sculptural air intakes incorporated into the wraparound front bumpers, which makes it look a bit more aggressive or the new aluminium slats with contrasting faceted tips on the grille. At the rear, they have removed the silencer making the tail more compact and the bumpers look more streamlined.
It caught my attention the diamond-finish wheel rims which create a very special chiaroscuro effect.
Overall, the M is sportier in character than its predecessor, it is still super comfortable, even in genuine long drives (I drove it for six hours in a single day and could have easily done another six without feeling any stiffness). Cabin innovations include ADAS and ventilated/heated seats. Like in the Portofino, in the Modificata the seats are adjustable in height enough for people like me (5’5’’) to have perfect visibility without having to stretch my neck like a crane. Furthermore, the seats have a new magnesium structure that allows for different density padding and an ultra-compact seatback profile that has freed up space for the rear cabin. At low speed in urban areas, the Portofino M is very easy to drive during the Start-Stop cycle thanks to a more efficient clutch torque control.
The multiple seat adjustments allow for a super comfortable driving position and perfect visibility even if like me, you are not on the tall side of things.
The 8-speed gearbox adds extra fun to the driving experience. As the car goes through the gears, the amount of torque delivered by the engine increases all the way up to 770 Nm in 7th and 8th gear, allowing for longer gear ratios which in turn, translate into lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
In terms of craftsmanship and materials, I love what Ferrari has done in the Portofino M. Gorgeous charcoal Alcantara everywhere: seats, doors, central console… combined with Celeste blue on the exterior and carbon fibre accents in the central bridge and dashboard. This is a seriously elegant car. The architecture of the interior is very well thought. They’ve broken down the dashboard into different levels with a gap in the middle that “lightens” the whole structure. The symmetrical arrangement of the cockpit is perfectly balanced, featuring two shells incorporating all of the technical components and a bridge that visually connects the instrument panel area with the central tunnel.
Charcoal tones and sumptuous materials add elegance to the cabin of the stylish Portofino M.
Tech-wise, you have all that you could possibly want and then some more, including Blind Spot Monitoring, Traffic Sign Recognition and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The HMI (Human-Machine Interface) centres on a digital cluster with dual TFT displays located on the same axis as the steering wheel, which makes the whole thing easier to use and quite intuitive.
The infotainment system and Hi-Fi controls are all on the central console so it is equally easy to use for both driver and passenger.
Believe me when I tell you that if you book this baby for a test drive you will do everything in your power to take it home with you. You know what they say, where there is a will…
OTR from £175,360.
Words: Julia Pasarón