This Is Why the New Ferrari Portofino Wows Critics

May 15th, 2019 by

ferrari protofino


Even an entry-level Ferrari isn’t exactly a budget car. However, buyers looking to jump into exotic sports car ownership should take a serious look at the new Ferrari Portofino.


By Ferrari’s standards, the Portofino is a relatively new addition to the family. The luxury automaker released the first model in 2017, and its lineage includes the California and the California T. Reviewers have emphasized that the Portofino is not a redesign of its West Coast predecessors. Rather, it is a standout sports car with a relatively affordable (at least by Ferrari standards) price tag of $210,000 before the optional equipment. The California models were named after the West Coast state that’s also home to a thriving Ferrari market. Notably, the Portofino was named after a coastal resort town in the province of Genoa, Italy.

Weighing In

What makes the new Ferrari Portofino stand out? First, it’s built on a light-weight aluminum chassis that, along with lighter powertrain, electronic systems, and seats and interior, as well as other structures, brings its weight to 3,700 pounds. This is about 175 pounds less than both California models. It also weighs about 400 pounds less than the DB11 Volante and comes in 2,600 pounds under the Bentley Continental GT Convertible.

The Portofino’s weight differential gives it several advantages over its rivals. It’s outfitted with a 3.9-liter, twin-charged turbocharged V8 engine that produces 591 horsepower and more than 560 pound-feet of torque. It’s speedy too: with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that funnels power to the back wheels, the new Ferrari Portofino can jump to 60 miles an hour in 3.2 seconds. Top speed is 199 miles per hour.

ferrari protofino engine

Automatic and Sport

Thanks to its svelte design, the Portofino offers an excellent experience on the road that stays true to its sports-car persona. It’s quick to respond when the driver brakes, changes direction, or accelerates. It has two modes, automatic and Sport, and drivers will enjoy the tactile experience of operating the car.

In Sport, the engine will growl into a higher rev range. Gear changing is an engaging, sensory experience as the driver operates the large carbon fiber paddles and hears a quick “click” and “whomp” as the gears shift. In automatic, the car will seamlessly change gears and wait to upshift until it detects enough input from the throttle. One reviewer noted drivers won’t forget they’re in a sports car. The Portofino has slightly stiff springs that provide just enough rattle as well as a jumpiness the reviewer likened to a “spirited steed.”

Taking It for a Drive

After one tester drove the Portofino along the coast of Southern California—top down and windows up—he noted that he could easily hold a conversation with his wife over the wind noise thanks the Portofino’s wind deflectors. Meanwhile, the car’s adaptive suspension kept the ride smooth even when the road was not. Reviewers also praise the ease of navigating the road in the Portofino. The steering reacts immediately to driver input but remains stable during highway driving. One reviewer noted the Ferrari’s “incredible chassis control and communication” and characterized his ride as “sheer driving bliss.”

It’s Got the Look

The Portofino’s appearance stands out from its predecessors. The styling has widened and opened the grill and made the rear end “robust and athletic. The flanks have been “gracefully sculpted as though from the chisel and hammer of Bernini,” according to Forbes reviewer Lyn Woodward. The three-piece folding hard top (which Ferrari officials have said doesn’t weigh significantly more than a soft top) integrates beautifully into the design. It will retract in 14 seconds while driving under 25 miles per hour.

The interior of the Portofino is not to be overlooked—one reviewer called it “one of the most exquisite cabins of any roadster on sale.” The four-seats are leather-covered along with the console, door inserts, and the bottom half of the dashboard. The upper dashboard, deck lid, and steering wheel inserts are accessorized with black leather. You’ll find brush metal accents around the console controls, the round air vents, and the Portofino and Ferrari badges.

ferrari protofino

ferrari protofino

ferrari protofino

ferrari protofino

ferrari protofino

ferrari protofino

ferrari protofino

ferrari protofino

High Tech

The Portofino’s console is a smorgasbord of buttons and toggles designed to allow the driver to operate the steering wheel with two hands throughout the drive. The gauge cluster includes a large tachometer and two digital monitors. Drivers will find a stepped system to their right with the launch control system, manual or auto-shift selection, and reverse gear.

Screens, including a pair of monitors to aid navigation and provide access to media, telemetry, and speed data, are set into the dash and aren’t blurred by glare when the top is down. A 10-inch touchscreen between the two front seats responds quickly to input and offers an intuitive menu. An additional screen on the passenger side provides access to performance data and entertainment options.


Are there any? One reviewer found that only two carry-on bags would fit in the trunk, and the fold-able back seats may not have enough legroom for tall adults. When pondering whether to recommend purchasing the Portofino, however, the reviewer concluded with a confident, “absolutely.”