2018 Ferrari Portofino first drive: Sharper but still a GT

Picking up the baton from the best-selling Ferrari of all time could easily intimidate. Not so with the new Ferrari Portofino which, with elegant but decisive and distinctly different styling, distances itself from its predecessor - the California. Even the new model name suggests that this is a different prospect to the California, which had a reputation for being the 'soft' Ferrari. 

Mind you, the Portofino does keep the folding hard-top roof that characterised the California and this remains the cheapest way into a Ferrari, at a touch over £166k, and unashamedly the least focussed car in the Italian maker's rarefied range. 

Ferrari Portofino
Ferrari Portofino

First impressions


14 seconds. That's all it takes for the Portofino to turn from a sporty and proportionate coupé into a sleek and sinuous spider, and you can make the transformation at up to 30mph. Its shape has been carved out by the Ferrari Design Centre which, thanks to Flavio Manzoni's intuition and talent, has made the Portofino a refined, generally more intense design. 

Between the much more aggressive-looking, L-shaped full-LED front headlights - which now have an air intake that funnels air into the wheelarches for optimum aerodynamics - and a rear end that has hints of the Ferrari 488 to it, this is a dramatically more purposeful-looking car than the soft-edged Ferrari California. 

Ferrari Portofino
Ferrari Portofino

The revolution continues inside where there are four screens: two TFTs in the instrument panel, adjustable with the appropriate buttons behind the steering ...