The Portofino: a super-serious Ferrari with mass appeal

The California was supposed to be Ferrari’s tilt towards the motoring masses. The new Portofino does the job

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The California was supposed to be Ferrari's tilt towards the motoring masses. The new Portofino does the job.

Too soft, too slow and too much of "a hairdresser's car": the poor Ferrari California had a tough time of it at its launch in 2008, says Andrew English in The Daily Telegraph. Not that the 199mph, V8 sports car was anything less than "super-serious", but it was far from Ferrari's finest work.

The Portofino is Ferrari's second attempt to create a car that would appeal beyond its typical customer base to attract the types who actually use their cars for shopping trips and so on. And it is a "very impressive job". It has "mopped up most of the serious criticisms of the old car, with the addition of extraordinary high-speed stability, better electronics and more outright power". It may not please purists, but it's not hard to love this car. It is "probably the most practical Ferrari, while still insanely fast and frankly quite a looker".

It is not Ferrari's most visceral sports car, agrees Steve Sutcliffe in AutoExpress, but it is easily the most useable. The cabin looks good, and there is more space in the rear seats. The ride is "well resolved", smoothing out whatever a bumpy road can throw at it. As for the performance, "the way it fires itself towards the horizon is deeply dramatic", and the sound from the engine that accompanies the performance is "spectacular".

The fact that it is a tamed beast is actually part of its appeal, says James May in The Sunday Times. It makes those Ferrari traits "something to be dipped into at leisure" rather than a challenge to live with every day, and they're still "very gratifying when they're indulged". The rest of the time, the car is "just a deeply desirable and muscular roadster".

Price: from £166,180. Engine: 3,855cc, turbocharged V8.Power: 592bhp. Torque: 560lb ft. Top speed: 199mph.

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