Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top

Published:09 July 2021

Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

► Ferrari’s ‘modificata’ drop top driven
► Entry-level Ferrari grand tourer
► We drive it in the UK

This is the Portofino M, the latest version of Ferrari’s ‘entry-level’ two-door Spider. The M stands for Modificata, and that means Maranello has squeezed even more out of its sporty GT. Power is up, the chassis promises to have more poise – and there’s an all-new gearbox too among other changes. To find out just how much better it is, we took one for a spin in the Cotswolds.

What’s new?

The Portofino M has been lightly dusted with improvements throughout, but one of the biggest sits in the engine bay: The 3.9-litre V8 slung front-mid area of the car has been carried over, but pushes out more power in the M; Maranello’s engineers have increased power by 20bhp from 592bhp to 612bhp. It all means 0-62mph now takes just 3.45 seconds now, while top speed is a hair under 200mph.

There’s a new eight-speed box too – borrowed from the SF90 Stradale hybrid – only here, the ratios have been chilled out and extended for the Portfino’s more relaxed driving style. The cogs are entwined with Variable Boost Management, which means the amount of torque is assigned depending on the gear you’re in.

portofino m rear

There’s new electronics too; the M features the latest version of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control, which aims to adjust brake pressure at each wheel to make the car more approachable on the limit, and there’s also new ‘Airscarf’ tech which warms the neck when the roof is down.

What’s it like to drive?

The Portofino M has supercar stats on paper, and it even has the super loud start-up to match (due to a new exhaust setup). However, after few miles of narrow Cotswolds, it’s obvious that the Portofino M is still both rapid and accessible.

Despite 621bhp being a ruler’s length away from your feet, the Portofino M is easy to manage – and short-shifting well below the 7500 red line seems to deliver effortless speed. Crucial to this experience is the slicker, new eight-speed box, which feels just at home in 20mph and 30mph limits as it does on more challenging roads.

Throw the Portofino M round a corner, and it’s not become a supercar overnight; but it’s still got enough poise and feedback to encourage pushing on. It’s in these situations that you’ll want to flick the steering-mounted Manettino dial to its most aggressive setting and take more advantage of Side Slip Control – something we weren’t able to do due to particularly greasy roads.

portofino m overhead

Still, it’s perfectly behaved on motorways and A-roads, which is where the Portofino also has to deliver; there’s adaptive cruise control, a decent sound system – and although the infotainment feels a generation old and does take some getting used to, it does work.

Ferrari Portofino M: verdict

The Portofino M represents a solid, if subtle step over the previous car in all the right areas. Rather than sacrificing comfort for dynamics, Ferrari has focused on refinement and left its two-seaters’ grand tourer credentials intact. The eight-speed box is a particular highlight and makes the Portofino far more at home in traffic, too.

The only issue? At 188k, it invites unfavourable comparisons to Porsche’s perennially good – and £45,000 cheaper – 911 (992) Cabriolet. Still, Ferrari would argue the Portofino M provides a very different, and more characterful experience.

Specs

Price when new: £186,000
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8, 612bhp, 561lb ft
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 3.45sec 0-62mph, 199mph
Weight / material: 1664kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4594/1938/1318

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  • Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top
  • Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top
  • Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top
  • Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top
  • Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top
  • Ferrari Portofino M review: Maranello tweaks its entry-level soft top

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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