The Cotswolds are nice. You probably already know that. It’s not a part of the country I’ve spent too much time in, though. A weekend away was booked in, the kids were packed off to their grandparents and Broadway was entered into the satnav. Can a car fundamentally improve the destination it takes you to? It undoubtedly adds to the excitement. I was fortunate enough to be heading off in the Ferrari Portofino M. Country roads, beautiful scenery and a Ferrari; it surely doesn’t get much better?
Probably not. I could’ve been headed to an industrial estate in Slough and I’d still have been excited. And I was headed to an industrial estate in Slough on the way home to return the Ferrari Portofino M. Did the Cotswolds even matter?
The Ferrari Portofino M is fitted with a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. It sends 612bhp and 760Nm of torque to the rear wheels, which propel it from 0-62mph in just 3.5secs. That’s more than enough to keep you entertained. Yet the Ferrari Portofino M is designed to be a bit softer edged than its stablemates. You can take the roof off and unwind. It offers a multi-faceted driving experience.
What’s the Ferrari Portofino M like to live with?
Perhaps surprisingly, the aspect that stood out most was the suspension and ride quality. Sure, the Ferrari Portofino M looks like a more relaxed and refined iteration of Ferrari, but it is still, you know, a Ferrari. And it features a suspension that irons out all but the very worst kinks in the road.
There’s a stretch near me that is national speed limit but undulates wildly. In some cars it feels like you could be flung in a random direction at any moment. Not in the Ferrari Portofino M. It was composed and unflustered.
Given all that’s fitted to the car, being immediately drawn to the suspension wasn’t what I was expecting. On the long drive to the Cotswolds, it was always refined and comfortable. Even with the roof down, it doesn’t get too blustery in the cabin, although you’d probably want it up on the motorway.
Leaving it up also provides more storage space in the boot. That said, it is a 2+2, although rear legroom is more non-existent than plentiful. Use those rear seats as auxiliary storage and you could do the weekly shop.
The rear seats do provide Isofix though, which is useful. It meant I could take my son out for a spin. He’s four. First thing he did was request his sunglasses. If nothing else, the Ferrari Portofino M will make your kids think you’re cool for five minutes. If that’s not worth £175,000, I don’t know what is.
The interior is well appointed, too. The JBL stereo fitted to the model tested worked brilliantly, especially with the roof down, and the cabin is calm and relaxed. The optional passenger screen works well, although having something right in front of my wife’s face telling her how fast we’re going wasn’t always a welcome feature.
What’s the Ferrari Portofino M like to drive?
Not that it’s a car that demands to be driven fast. In some cars of this ilk, they constantly strain at the leash. They feel like caged animals when requested to trundle through an average speed zone. Not so the Ferrari Portofino M. Select comfort on the manettino and it quickly changes up through the 8-speed gearbox. It will happily sit and cruise.
It’s part of a remarkably multi-faceted driving experience. It does the cruising part so exceptionally well that you can forget about all the power that you can call upon. Flick the manettino round to sport and it’s still remarkably relaxed. Right up until you bring the carbon fibre paddles into play, drop it down five gears and unleash a bit of hell. It’s still a Ferrari all right.
The downshifts in auto often don’t drop far enough, so bringing the manual aspect into play is a must. The changes are instant and bring you a bit closer to the driving experience. They also make it easier to call upon those 612 horses.
Even in comfort, the Ferrari Portofino M isn’t slow. There’s effortless power to call upon to make whichever move you want. It does everything from the relaxed to the aggressive incredibly well.
It’s also very accessible. Most of the controls are on the steering wheel, which takes a little getting used to. Indicating to come off roundabouts is something you’ll get wrong a few times at first, but you quickly adapt.
The driver’s seat is definitely the focus of the Ferrari Portofino M. You get a good view out and everything is easy to edit on the go. It means that you can set the car up quickly for an overtake or in anticipation of some open tarmac.
What’s the Ferrari Portofino M really like to drive?
It’s like, well, a Ferrari. Sure, it’s not quite as dynamic as the Ferrari Roma, the heft of the roof ensures as much, but it’s never dull. Except when you want it to be dull. If that makes sense…
The pedal modulation is great, the engine and brakes respond progressively to your inputs. There’s also plenty of traction to work with when you find a decent B-road. I was, naturally, tentative at first, but the Ferrari Portofino M quickly instilled enough confidence to start leaning on it.
In sport, the ride firms a little and the throttle response is sharper. There is also more theatre from the exhausts, especially on downshifts. With the roof off, hustling through the Cotswolds, each downshift was accompanied with a grin. It sounds superb.
The steering is always sharp, a hallmark of Ferrari. At slower speeds it feels quite light, but it offers more feedback the closer you get to the edge. With the LEDs across the top of the steering wheel illuminating to suggest it might be time to consider an upshift, the Ferrari Portofino M makes for an engrossing experience in the right setting.
You can telepathically plot your course through the next two bends; the Ferrari Portofino M just takes you there. The A44 as it scythes up Fish Hill just outside of Broadway, offers plenty of tight twists and turns, which were a joy. Judging your downshifts, finding the right line as you pass slower moving traffic and powering out of corners onwards and upwards was childishly enjoyable. So, I did it a few times. Because why not?
It was at this point that I realised, without doubt, that the Ferrari Portofino M could handle a lot more than I was willing to throw at it.
Whilst it can be, the Ferrari Portofino M hasn’t been built to be driven exclusively on the edge. So, what would you use the Ferrari Portofino M for? It’s an exceptional GT car with enough of the supercar to keep things lively; to keep things Ferrari.
I came to admire its split personality. On the one hand pliant and polite. On the other, snarling and aggressive. It also helps that it looks superb. Aesthetically, the Ferrari Portofino M is a delight. The design team at Maranello are in form, as referenced by the Ferrari Daytona SP3 winning Most Beautiful Supercar at the recent Paris Festival Automobile International. The 812, 296 GTB, Roma, SF90, Monza, Portofino M – they all look superb.
The Ferrari Portofino M is softer than the Roma and not quite as dynamic nor quite as practical. The Roma is undoubtedly the logical choice: hard top, lighter, a bit more focussed on the driving experience. The Portofino M is the romantic choice: convertible, elegant, closer to nature.
I think I’d go for the Portofino M. I’m not a racing driver and it’s plenty fast enough. The way it plots a course down a great stretch of road is enough for me. If it can make a drive to an industrial estate in Slough plant a smile across your face, you can imagine how good it was in the Cotswolds.
I got lost late one afternoon along a single-track road. At the top of the hill the vista was stunning. I stopped and took in the sunset. At the next turn, a proper road revealed itself. Back into sport, back into the driving and back off home. There aren’t too many cars that encourage you to relax on one road, then channel your inner Tazio Nuvolari on the next.
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