Is the Ferrari Portofino M still a Ferrari even though it's more affordable?
It was back in September of this year when Naza Italia, the sole distributor of Ferrari here in Malaysia, launched the Ferrari Portofino M for the local market. This convertible supercar carrying the 'M' in the name (which means 'Modificata' or Modified in Italian) is a bit of an understatement when you put it side by side with the non-M Ferrari Portofino.
Priced from RM998,000 (before duties, taxes, insurance, and options), we were given the grand opportunity to not only test this hard-top convertible Italian stallion on the streets, but also a few laps around the home of Malaysian motorsports, the Sepang International Circuit. In short, it's a unique offering from Ferrari due to its versatility to offer mad levels of fun, convenience, as well as ease of driving, no matter the driving situation.
Starting with the name, the Portofino M is more than just a modified version of the Portofino. In fact, it's more of an evolution with a host of updates and upgrades found inside and out. From the exterior point of view, the Portofino M carries a slightly more aggressive facade thanks to its new front bumper with bigger intakes, as well as a huge rear diffuser.
These exterior changes were made to compensate with the Portofino M's updated powertrain - a 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces 620hp and 760Nm of torque. That's 20hp more than the non-M Portofino as Ferrari was able to achieve this by fitting a new set of cam profiles and turbocharger speed sensor which helps it to spool up even faster (by 5,000rpm more to be exact).
There's also the new gasoline particulate filter which helps the Portofino M to comply with the very strict Euro-6^D emission regulations, which also affected how that huge rear diffuser came to be. This new addition allows the Portofino M to run without any silencers for the exhaust, which meant that the designers over at Ferrari had a bit more room to play with its overall design. Great work on that.
Even the transmission has been upgraded from a seven-speed DCT to an eight-speed DCT unit that's considered to be within the same family as the one found in the Ferrari SF90 Stradale (apart from longer ratios, a mechanical reverse gear, and essential 20% smaller but offers 35% more torque).
So, what's it like to experience this beauty on the track? Well, it's still a Ferrari and it is still fun as heck despite being labelled as a supercar that you can drive on a daily basis. 0-100km/h is completed in just 3.45 seconds, whereas 0-200km/h is at 9.8 seconds (a full second faster than the Portofino).
Putting it in Sport mode gave us an impression that the Portofino M still has that slightly wild side to trash around the track, including some very exciting mini-drifts upon exiting the corners. Handling is still very much on the nimble side of things, and if you have the necessary driving skills, switching it up to either 'Race' or 'ESC- Off' can indeed increase its overall fun but a mad factor. For us, we were definitely contented with what the Portofino M had to offer in 'Sport' mode.
But what about driving it on the open road and around town? For most supercars, achieving this particular balance of everyday driveability and high performance is a very challenging feat to accomplish, but the Portofino M sits right between these two extremes just fine. We took it out for another spin from the Ferrari Petaling Jaya showroom to Putrajaya, with a number of everyday driving scenarios in between like housing areas, backroads, and even highways like the forever-congested Federal and the more relaxed MEX.
Our verdict is that the Ferrari Portofino M can actually be driven like any normal sedan you would find in the market today. One just have to get used to its slightly stiffer throttle pedal, but the rest is fairly easy to operate. In other words, it's a breeze to drive around town with the Portofino M, and very pleasurable even if you choose to do so with the top down.
There are also a lot of very useful driving aids to ensure that your driving anxiety is always low because it's still a million Ringgit Ferrari and making sure that you don't bump into other cars or walls is really, really important. Luckily, the Portofino M's Advanced Driver Assistance System consists of things like a surround-view 360 camera with a 3D display, blindspot monitoring, lane departure warning, plus more. Peace of mind? Check.
At the end of it all, the Ferrari Portofino M is considered to be quite a versatile supercar that can cater to a wider driving scenario like driving your mini kids to school, going up to Genting for that lovely morning coffee, or even getting stuck in traffic congestions before blasting up the mountain roads and back down again. It won't look out of place no matter the occasion, but considering that it's still a Ferrari, the Portofino M will still make heads turn every time you drive by. Did we mention that it has quite a decent boot space to carry your luggage comfortably for a weekend getaway? No? Yup, it has that as well.