When Ferrari launched its California, there were many unsure about how successful it would be. They were proved wrong, of course, as the California and subsequently the California T proved a popular entry point (if entry point is really appropriate for a multimillion rand sports car) into the marque.
It looks set to remain so, at least until the new Dino arrives at the start of the Maranello line-up, but now the firm has revealed a new California, although the name has been replaced with something far more Italian, the Portofino.
The town of Portofino is renowned for its charming tourist port and has become synonymous with elegance, sportiness and understated luxury, according to Ferrari.
Ferrari SA says it cannot confirm when the new model will arrive in SA, but when it does it will again feature a turbocharged V8, this time pushing out 441kW at 7,500r/min and 760Nm between just 3,000 and 5,250r/min. The company says it will be capable of hitting 100km/h from start in 3.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of more than 320km/h.
It will feature an all-new chassis with a significant weight saving over the California T, thanks to a complete redesign, new production techniques and redesign of many components.
Ferrari says that all aspects of the eight-cylinder’s efficiency have been honed with the adoption of new pistons and con-rods, and a new intake system design. The geometries throughout the exhaust system have also been revolutionised. The new one-piece-cast exhaust header reduces losses, an important factor in ensuring Ferrari’s characteristic throttle response with zero turbo lag.
These improvements, combined with the Variable Boost Management which adjusts torque delivery to suit the gear selected, enable the Portofino to offer even higher levels of acceleration in all gears and lower fuel consumption compared wit the outgoing model.
The vehicle dynamic characteristics have been completely revised and for the first time on this type of Ferrari model, the third generation electronic rear differential (E-Diff3) has been adopted and integrated with the F1-Trac, improving both mechanical grip and the control of the car on the limit.
It is also the first GT in the range to be fitted with EPS (electric power steering), which allowed the engineers to reduce the steering ratio by 7%.
The magnetorheological damping system (SCM-E) has been uprated with dual-coil technology to help reduce roll while improving absorption of road surface unevenness.
The Ferrari Design Centre-penned model retains the same two-box fastback configuration as the California, as well as being a convertible with its retractable hard top.
The form of the large radiator grille opening is underscored by a full-LED headlight assembly with a more horizontal shape than that in the California. The outside edge of the headlight hides an innovative air intake which vents into the front wheelarch and exits along the flank to cut drag. The rear design also differs in that the tail lights have been placed further apart.
Inside there is a new infotainment system with 10.2-inch touchscreen display, a new air-conditioning system, a new steering wheel and the front seats feature a backrest design to give more legroom to those in the back. There is also a new wind deflector which, when the top is dropped, cuts air flow inside the cabin by 30%.
So far what we know about the Portofino has all been from paper, but in September we will see it for the first time when it makes its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.