Price: R4 956 200
Engine: 3,9-litre, V8, twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch
Power: 456 kW@ 5 750-7 500 r/min
Torque: 760 N.m@ 3 0005 750 r/min
0-100 km/h: 3,45 seconds*
Top speed: 320 km/h
Fuel consumption: 11,30 L/100 km*
CO2: 256 g/km
Rivals: Aston Martin Vantage Roadster and GT; Bentley Continental GT Convertible; Porsche 911 Turbo S Convertible
+ the all-in-one Ferrari; M should stand for magic microchips
- new exhaust and particulate filter rob it of noise+
Of all the automotive objects out there, a Rosso Corsa (racing red) Ferrari is perhaps the most admired by car lovers and laypeople alike. A cultural symbol of Italy, any coachwork wearing the famed Prancing Horse is as much a manifestation of artistic flair as it is of engineering prowess. For one day only, we were allowed access to the latest Portofino M, the latest evolution of the front-engine, 2+2, folding-hardtop that was launched in the wake of coronavirus hard lockdown ... not exactly the ideal environment for an extravagant convertible sportscar. Then again, it wasn't like its predecessors, the previous California and California T didn't have their deriders. They may have shared a flat-plane-crank V8 (albeit detuned) and dual-clutch transmission with the 458 and 488 respectively but, having driven both, I can confirm their softer GT execution did lack that special Ferrari edge.
As far as styling is concerned, however, there has been no such concern since the California's replacement, the Portofino, breezed onto the scene in 2018. Try and rationalise to anyone that the entry-level offering (before the Roma arrived , that is) was the least sporty Ferrari and you'd immediately understand the idiom falling on deaf ears via the glazed look in their eyes. No matter what you say - just like the latest evolution of Ferrari's adaptive Magneride suspension passersby are drawn to it like iron filings to a magnet.
In the case of the M (for Modificata), it's for good reason. Power and torque are up to a clavicle-crushing 456 kW/760 N.m respectively, while the twin-turbo petrol V8 keeps fuel consumption and Co, emissions respectable at a claimed 11,30 L/100 km and 255 g/km. Yet, as I carefully nosed our Ferrari out the Scuderia Cape Town dealership in the Waterfront having completed the necessary paperwork with all sorts of scary things like liability cover and excess payable, I was immediately relieved at how easy the Portofino M was to pilot. The nose isn't low enough to require a lift function (although one is optionally available should you live in the upper reaches of Fresnaye or Camps Bay, let's say). There's the freedom to move, see out and place the car on the road. The steering is light, the engine and throttle response well tamed in Comfort mode and it rides smoothly over road imperfections. I opened up the roof at a set of traffic lights (just 14 seconds from closed to convertible) and soaked up all the intangible wonders of alfresco motoring in a Fezza.
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