A red Ferrari, the top down, and the whole day to play. It’s what dreams are made of
What did you dream of while growing up? Since you’re reading this magazine I’m guessing it had something to do with a car or a bike. Me? I dreamt of the red Ferrari on my wall. Okay, I’m still dreaming of that particular red Ferrari — it was the F40, and I still haven’t even sat in one, let alone drive one — but this is close.
It’s a very, very early morning, coffee in hand, a red Ferrari being fired up and gingerly rolled down a flat-bed transporter. “You’ve driven it, haven’t you,” asks the man from Ferrari Mumbai. I nod. “So I don’t need to tell you what is what. Here’s the keys, she’s all warmed up, have fun.”
And that’s that. I have the keys and all day to play. To borrow a phrase, this isn’t my first rodeo; neither is this my first Ferrari nor is this my first time with the Portofino, having spent two days with it on the Italian Riviera (from where it gets its name) exactly a year ago. But there’s something special about having a Ferrari to yourself, on roads you know like the back of your hand, and with no restrictions. You will not believe the kind of mileage caps we have to fight against, sometimes even time constraints. Today there’s nothing of the sort except our word not to juice it with rubbish fuel since we are at least 150km away from high octane petrol. A full tank of gas then, all day (or until we run out of gas) and this is how we spent it:
No secret where we are. This is the road going up to Aamby Valley in Lonavala, a place mired in litigation that you will have read a lot about. There’s a runway up at Aamby but the last time we were there it was too dirty to drive anything fast for the fear of sand blasting the underside of the car. And in any case now we don’t know who to ask for permissions. Inside, the property is falling to pieces and it wasn’t very tasteful to begin with. No, the highlight of Aamby Valley is the road leading up to it and you must begin the climb before sunrise to beat the traffic. And you must never venture here on the weekend.
The first part of the climb, through Lonavala town and past the naval station isn’t great, save for the blast alongside and over the walls of the dam. Like everywhere in India, the roads here too are falling apart and that’s where the Portofino stamps its mark as the most usable Ferrari ever. The most usable supercar for that matter. It rides brilliantly! Now I know that unless you’re actually going to buy one, nobody is interested in hearing about how comfortable a Ferrari is but you must bear with me. This Ferrari can be used on broken potholed roads. It is the everyday Ferrari and over your commute on everyday roads it will break neither its nor your back. And then you discover the bumpy road setting on the steering wheel that makes it massively impressive. Plus the short wheelbase and the short overhangs means nothing touches on speedbreakers, you don’t even have to do the side scrabble that even AMGs and M cars demand.
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