The constituents of my fantasy garage keep changing with the march of time. Without going into specifics, the garage always consists of more than a few RWD manual sportscars, a couple of long-legged grand tourers, a hypercar, and the odd utility-focussed off-roader. The inclusion of the new Ferrari Portofino M threatens the wholly fictitious presence of a lot of these cars because Ferrari has fine-tuned it serve all manner of driving requirements. Alas, for those of us not named Jay Leno, shortlisting the fantasy garage lineup remains a very hypothetical concern. However, driving a Ferrari on an exceptionally clear November morning has thankfully manifested into a reality.
There's a mild sense of déjà vu sweeping over me as I grab the bright red keys to the Portofino M. The first Ferrari I ever drove was for this very magazine. It too featured a folding hardtop and a V8. And while the placement and the nature of the Ferrari V8 may have changed, the thrill of piloting any car with a prancing horse badge remains as palpable as ever.
The Portofino M may be the weapon of choice for the holidaymaker in Tuscany, but it's still dripping with sporty intent. There's that button-infested flatbottomed steering with a bright red manettino at the business end vying for your attention. As are the two vertical blades in the form of paddle shifters and the long, swooping bonnet housing a 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8. Much to the chagrin of tech snobs, things are still largely button-operated here, as opposed to touch-operated like they are in the Roma. Personally, I much prefer this sort of setup to having a touch-enabled surface on the steering, where a palm accidentally brushing against the surface can activate voice commands.
The 'M', which stands for ‘Modificata' doesn't denote a beefed-up Portofino. Instead it points to a shredded grand tourer that's a bit more at home inside Ferrari's famously performance-oriented stables than its previous self. Ferrari decided to spiff up the M with more aggressive air intakes, redesigned bonnet vents and a redesigned rear diffuser that allowed them to neatly tuck in an exhaust with a new particulate filter.
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