Someone asked me recently, if you had an unlimited budget and could buy only one car to last you the rest of your life, what would you buy?
I didn’t hesitate to answer: the Ferrari Portofino.
No ifs or buts, I immediately knew the answer, because I have been lucky enough to drive one.
Why the Portofino? Well, the long answer would involve an explanation of how if you could only drive one car for the rest of your life, you would want something that is a combination power, beauty, elegance, sportiness, luxury and is a real thrill to drive; something that challenges you daily.
The short answer is that the drop-dead gorgeous Portofino drools class.
It was New Order bassist Peter Hook who famously said “you can’t buy class” but I can assure you, £164,426 (plus extras) goes a long way to proving him wrong.
I’ve been lucky enough to drive a few super cars and a couple of Grand Tourers which catch the eye but this elegant V8 GT has an uncanny knack of both turning heads and dropping jaws in sync.
Being a Ferrari, it’s obviously the opposite of humble, but with its sleek curves, the mid-engined Portofino is more noble than flash.
This Grand Tourer replaces its predecessor the California after, so the story goes, a Ferrari boss asked its designers to come up with a super car which wasn’t so low his wife couldn’t elegantly step out of it in a flowing cocktail dress without grace.
The result was a GT which is lighter, faster, prettier and, above all, a real driver’s car.
Absolutely don’t let its seductive curves fool you though – this drop-top comes with added what the Italian’s call grintozo – or grittiness.
Because, especially in its thrill-seeking Sport mode, every now and again the Portofino’s tail will give you a quick waggle to remind you who really is the boss.
There’s an all-new aluminum chassis which permits blistering speed. The Portofino will do 0-60mph in a lightening 3.1 seconds with a top speed of 199mph. Admittedly, that’s not the fastest Ferrari you can buy, but it’s a ferocious pace that’s plenty fast enough for any adrenaline-fuelled speed junkie.
And frankly this is one of those cars where you will be happy to be overtaken doing a more sedate pace as you let passing drivers’ passengers marvel in the car’s superior lines.
Because it’s enough to know you could beat 99.9% of other cars on the road if you wanted to. Because, class.
And, importantly, the 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine sounds like an orchestral masterpiece every time you start it up. Have no doubt, this sounds – as well as looks, especially in the lush red Rosso Portofino colour of our test model – like a Ferrari.
Perhaps above all, Portofino is surprisingly versatile – making it perfect for weekend getaways – allowing two cabin-sized luggage bags in its surprisingly compact boot which is designed to contain the retractable hard-top roof which lowers in a respectable 14 seconds at up to 30mph.
Inside the luscious quality of the leather build is in my opinion unmatched in this market. Infotainment is handled by a 10.2in HD touch-screen with SatNav, Apple CarPlay and almost* everything else you could ask for.
Standing out, there’s the very F1 looking steering wheel with its mounted buttons to make you feel like you are at the top of your game. A surprising lack of stalks for lights or wipers – all buttons (some behind the wheel) you must train your fingers to locate – are a geek’s dream.
The Portofino has an enviable 460-mile fuel range – with a fuel consumption of around 18mph in the city and a more respectable 35mph on the motorway.
But, if you are worried about fuel consumption, you probably wouldn’t be buying a Ferrari anyway.
We took the Portofino for a weekend away at a luxury spa retreat and we couldn’t have chosen a better chariot. The car is as comfortable a ride on the open motorway as it is attacking corners as you fire out of bends on back country roads.
There’s an exhilarating feeling of how well the precise aim of the steering is connected to the front tyres with every turn that’s truly addictive.
Where other Grand Tourers will have you sitting back doing almost everything for you, the Portofino has you on the edge of your seat, willing and cheering it on at every turn.
While it undoubtedly feels like a car which wants to go fast, I ought to add that even when mooching about town, the enthusiastic V8 engine didn’t seem to mind moving at a snail’s pace, even when stuck in traffic the way some super cars seem to.
And being that little bit higher than your average super car by design, it glided over all bumps, potholes and niggles in the road in a way that many of its contemporaries would send you a shudder up your spine.
It also has rear seats, albeit a better fit for children than adults over long distances. It’s still a better car for two than four, but that’s a lot of extra space in this market when you need it.
Down sides? Well*, I was surprised at the lack of 360 degree camera. Surprisingly, there’s no automatic emergency braking or blind spot monitoring. And I would have appreciated lane keeping assistance on the longer drives.
All of these features are common on much cheaper cars now, but admittedly I could live without either for what you do get for your buck.
Ferrari have an incredible Tailor Made personalisation scheme in store for anyone who purchases one of their cars – an appetizing experience in itself – where I daresay you couldn’t help but choose options that would push the price of your Portofino to in excess of £200k.
That might sound a lot for what is in essence an entry-level Ferrari. But I’d say it would be worth every penny.
Pulling up outside a 500-year-old country manor, the Portofino seemed as at home here as you could imagine it would parked up outside an oceanfront luxury modern Malibu condo.
That’s in essence what is great about the Portofino, it feels like a car for every occasion.
I’ve never been to the picturesque fishing village of Portofino in Italy from where it takes its name. A quick Google describes it being the jewel of the Italian Riviera, a famous romantic getaway which was a favourite of the rich and famous during its 1950s heyday.
Weirdly, after a weekend away in this motor, I almost feel I’ve now been there.
Because the Portofino is the perfect car for getting away from it all.
Which is all you can ask from a car you’d choose to last you the rest of your life.