DRIVEN | Ferrari Portofino x Portmeirion
I’ve always had a distractingly vivid imagination, so as I was headed to test Ferrari’s latest convertible — the Ferrari Portofino — my mind needed no invitation to wander. I was instantly drawn to images of its namesake in Italy, as I slalomed with the roof-down through sepia hued mountains, drawing ever nearer to the emerald green sea that awaited me at its base.
The birds would be singing — with jealous tones — as I echoed past, taking in the neroli imbued air as the silver prancing horse on the Portofino’s rear gleamed in the incessant sun of the Italian Riviera.
The scene that greeted me however was somewhat different, after all we were in England, and although it was Summer, the rain is never really all that far away. As I collected the keys from our starting point in Cheshire, my glimmer of hope was that with our destination being Portmeirion in Snowdonia, the sun may eventually win its battle with the clouds by the time I had navigated the (ordinarily) scenic roads of the Wales Way.
As I set off on my journey the rain continued to fall, and out of corner of my eye I caught the silver gilded “Portofino” lettering, fixed above the passenger dash, mocking me as I carved my way through the torrential summer rain.
That said, with each mile it became more and more apparent that my displeasure at the weather was unfounded, the Ferrari Portofino made light work of the poor conditions in what was turning into a highly enjoyable drive.
And if I’m being honest, if anything this weather scenario was a more realistic test for any Ferrari owner in the UK, the climate being what it is. On this performance, I would describe the Portofino as the vehicular embodiment of the oft (mis)used phrase, “taking the rough with the smooth”.
We can’t ignore the fact that the Ferrari Portofino is the intended replacement for the very popular Ferrari California, a fact that is visually evident from the off. But Ferrari have tweaked all the right areas, modernising the design aesthetically with more angular features and sharper lines, while under the bonnet the engine has been honed rather than wholesale changes made, moderately increasing the 0-60 performance from 3.6 seconds to 3.5s.
Handling has improved too as they moved from the hydraulic steering in the California T, to more precise and responsive electromechanical steering in the Portofino, helping with the grip — especially in the rain.
Yes, it is still a V8 engine, but rest assured this car is Ferrari through and through as can be gauged from your driving experience, yes, but also from that of your passengers and open jawed onlookers as you hurtle past.
As we pulled up to the colourfully quaint and characterful buildings of Portmeirion, I couldn’t help but notice how the Clough designed village some-what resembled the Pastel-coloured houses of Portofino, and my vivid imagination was off again. I was no longer circumvented by rain but rather bathed in waves of sunshine, as I lowered the roof of the Portofino, allowing me full access to the glowing warmth of the Italian Riviera. It was almost too hot. Next stop for me? The bar.