Motoring and Property Editor
7:49 AM 24th September 2020
Ferrari Portofino Driven – Stupendo!
As a small boy I was obsessed with cars. I could name them all and the highlight of my year was my annual trip to the Earls Court Motor Show. All the cars excited me, though of course some more than others. The Ferrari stand always drew a crowd and I would stand, gazing longingly at these wonderful Italian cars.
Fast forward rather too many decades and the lure of a Ferrari drive saw me heading south late one Thursday night, destination Slough. Up bright and early the following morning, breakfast skipped, how early could I arrive at Ferrari HQ…
All too soon I was behind the wheel of the new Portofino, resplendent in red of course. Sadly, I missed the chance of a drive last year in the Highlands of Scotland due to a diary clash. No matter as I now had three free days and a Ferrari to play with.
I will admit to being a tad nervous when first starting out in a car so fast and expensive. You see Ferrari do things their own way, a unique way, which is fine when you tune in to their way of thinking.
Once free of Slough suburbia, the delights of the M25 awaited. By this stage, the roof was down, a spectacle as the various motors worked their magic to stow the hard top safely in the boot.
Lunch with an old school friend in Surrey was my next port of call. Time to settle back and relax, not easy when a watchful eye needed to be kept on the speedo, as all too quickly a 7 became an 8…
Even in the affluent south east a Ferrari attracts attention and there is always the feeling that you are being watched. And why wouldn’t you look at such a desirable piece of Italian exotica?
After an enjoyable lunch in a delightful gastropub, my dining companion and I strolled across the busy garden to the car. No once glanced up from their fine dining until the V8 engine roared into life. The car was somewhat boxed in, requiring a lot of manoeuvring to break free. A poor turning circle and the twin clutch gearbox were not helpful and I was pleased to be back on the move, destination Yorkshire.
The M25 was at its Friday afternoon worst and I arrived home some fourteen hours after taking possession, tired yet exhilarated.
I slept deeply yet woke around six o’clock with the sun peeping through the curtains. What better time to head out and drive before the tourists were out and about. For the next three hours I drove most of my favourite local roads. Roof down of course, heater on, gearbox set to manual – time to put the aluminium flappy paddles to good use.
The sound of the Ferrari blasting through my local villages may well have disturbed those having a weekend lie in. Now the car that had transported me home in comfort was transformed into a fiery supercar, ready to show its mettle.
By this stage I had selected ‘sport’ mode on the Manettino and made the most of my only chance to let the Portofino stretch its legs on challenging, traffic-free roads. It did not disappoint! The acceleration was breath-taking, the handling super sharp, the brakes immensely powerful. The car flowed from corner to corner, demolishing the straight bits, barely needing to slow down, no matter how tight the bends.
My only concern was the Portofino’s considerable girth on the narrow Dales’ roads, bounded by unforgiving dry-stone walls. Accurate steering however, allowed for millimetre perfect positioning.
Home for a late breakfast and then there were people to see, rides to be given and that was the pattern for the rest of the weekend. Fuel was burnt, money spent, and I cared not a jot as I have learnt to make the most of wonderful opportunities.
The good folk at Ferrari had requested I return the Portofino by mid-morning on the Monday. Up before the alarm, I was off before 4am, keen to beat the morning commuter traffic. I did not stop until Oxford services, where both car and driver were refuelled, and I was on Ferrari’s doorstep by nine o’clock.
The long drive home gave me ample time to think about Ferrari ownership and its many merits. The Portofino is a car you could easily drive every day. Not at all intimidating to pilot and if driven with restraint not as thirsty as you might think. The interior, made with the very best of materials, is a delightful place to spend time and helps to make every journey an occasion.
So, what are the downsides? The boot is rather small, especially with the roof folded, but the back seats, unusable for carrying passengers makes up the shortfall.
And then there is the price. The Portofino lists at £168,386 without options. My test car boasted around £80,000 of choice goodies and there is scope to go further still.
They say money cannot buy you happiness, but I defy anyone to be miserable behind the wheel of one of Ferrari’s stunning cars. If I had the wherewithal I would most likely indulge and would choose a Portofino over a more overtly sporting 488 GTB. I like a little more comfort and the Portofino obliges.
Little did that wide-eyed boy at those 1970s motor shows know that one day he wouldn’t just be looking at Ferraris from afar, he would actually be driving one. Happy days!
List price £168,386 (£249,084 with options)
3,855cc twin turbocharged V8 engine
0-62mph in 3.5 seconds
Top speed 199mph
Combined economy 26.4mpg
Emissions 245g/km CO2
Photographs by Will Larmour – Instagram @route65_photography