First look: Ferrari Portofino GT breaks cover in NZ
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Fans attending New Zealand’s inaugural Ferrari Challenge round at Hampton Downs this weekend will be among the first in the country to see the marque’s latest convertible road car.
Ferrari will reveal its new Portofino GT model, against the backdrop of a 26-strong Ferrari 488 Challenge field, and an expected 200-plus Ferrari road cars gathering for the event.
After the Ferrari California’s — and later California T — nine-year reign in the Italian carmaker’s line-up, the new Portofino will become the brand’s “entry-level” model.
While the California faced criticism for not looking or feeling like a “proper” Ferrari, initial impressions of the new GT suggest the same will not be said the new of Portofino.
The Portofino struts a more confident and aggressive appearance from all angles, with a design penned in partnership by Ferrari Design Centre and the company’s Aerodynamics department.
From the front it’s instantly recognisable as a Ferrari, with the adoption of L-shaped headlights similar to those seen on the 812 Superfast and GTC4Lusso.
The headlamps double as side vents to channel air cleanly down the GT’s flanks, and the front grille is also bigger to channel more air into the radiator and engine bay.
The tail-lights have been moved to the extreme corners to make for space for the folding hard-top roof — that raises or lowers at slow speeds in 14 seconds.
Portofino is a big step forward in performance over the California T. Under the skin is a new chassis design, brought about by advances in Ferrari’s production methods. It improves body stiffness by 35 per cent and helps reduce the dry weight by 80kg.
Portofino is powered by a heavily revised version of the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine used in the California T.
In Portofino trim, output has been increased to 441kW at 7500rpm and 760Nm of torque from 3000-5250rpm.
Despite appearing similar on paper to its predecessor, the Portofino engine features new pistons, con-rods, air intakes, exhaust and headers — all designed to eliminate turbo lag. Ferrari says that, paired with the Italian marque’s third-generation electronic differential, means the Portofino is capable of 100km/h in 3.5s and a top speed of 320km/h-plus.
Ferrari Australasia CEO, Herbert Appleroth said that there has been unprecedented interest in the company's new GT.
“We're so pleased to have the first dynamic drive programme for New Zealand customers this weekend,” he said. “The on and off-track Portofino drives is the first time customers in Australasia have been able to try our latest GT car.”
He said there had been more interest in the Portofino than in either predecessor, so Ferrari had high expectations for the model in New Zealand. Prices had yet to be confirmed.