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Driven: Ferrari’s entry-level Portofino lands

Lower pricetag, more appeal expected to boost Ferrari Portofino sales

19 Dec 2018

The entry-level Portofino convertible model is “likely (to) be the most popular Ferrari ever”, according to Ferrari Australasia chief executive officer Herbert Appleroth, due to its relatively affordable $398,888 before on-road costs pricetag and wide-ranging appeal.

Speaking to GoAuto last week, Mr Appleroth said the 2+2 Portofino hardtop convertible – which is Ferrari’s first model to dip below the $400,000 threshold since the 2007 F430 – opens the brand up to a new audience.

“I think the market is bigger as you go lower in price,” he said. “So certainly, the Portofino is our entry-level model, but it’s also where we concentrate our activity simply because it’s where people enter the Ferrari family.

“About 70 per cent of owners who purchase a Portofino are buying their first Ferrari. For us it’s where their Ferrari journey begins. Clearly the volume is higher as the price goes lower and this is the point where people jump into Ferrari from other brands.”

When asked which brands customers are leaving for the Prancing Horse, Mr Appleroth said buyers were not only coming from other sportscar marques, but also from large luxury crossovers.

“It is interesting because it is from luxury SUVs, from … German products around the $300,000 mark,” he said.

“This area is also rich with British sportscars and they have done a fantastic job for us because they are introducing people to exotic sportscars and it’s brilliant for us because when the finance becomes available to them, they still dream about a Ferrari.”

While brands such as Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Audi and BMW offer supercars that could rival the Portofino in cost and performance, Mr Appleroth said: “We consider our competition as a luxury holiday for a family, rather than a different car.”

In Australia, Ferrari has sold 178 new coupes and convertibles to the end of November this year, a substantial 24.7 per cent increase over the same period in 2017.

Though Ferrari does not provide a breakdown of sales among models, the Italian supercar brand commands an 11.4 per cent share of the over-$200,000 sportscar market, second only to the Porsche 911 (402 sales, 25.7% share).

Although Mr Appleroth would not be drawn on sales specifics of the Portofino, he said the marque’s success in the softening sportscar market is a result of strong product and long-term planning.

“We have the best product range we have ever had,” he said. “There is close to $100m spent in our facilities, we have gone from six dealers to nine dealers.

“Look at Adelaide. No-one invested in Adelaide and we are the only supercar brand there since 2013 and spent a considerable amount of money in Adelaide because we believed in the city and in South Australia. Now, all the brands are jumping in like it’s a secret gold mine.

“We’ve invested a lot of money in facilities and we invest close to $1 million a year in training so we have the best process, the best facilities, the best people and we simply engage more.

“Having the best product is the key. We are still the only supercar brand with a national or regional office in Australia. We have a large team aimed at building the brand in Australia. It’s about all the pieces coming together.”

Fitted under the long bonnet of the Portofino is a 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 that belts out 441kW of power at 7500rpm and 760Nm of torque from 3000-5250rpm.

Channelling drive to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Portofino can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 3.5 seconds, 0-200km/h in 10.8s and carry onto a top speed of 320km/h.

An all-new exhaust system, as well as tweaks to the bypass valves, variable displacement oil pump, intercooler and boost management software have increased outputs by 29kW/5Nm and improved the landmark triple-digit acceleration time by 0.1s over the Portofino’s California T predecessor.

Fuel economy in the Portofino is rated at 10.7 litres per 100km, while carbon dioxide emissions are pegged at 245 grams per kilometre.

As standard, the Portofino is fitted with carbon-ceramic brakes that measure 390mm and 360mm front and rear, as well as a folding hardtop roof that takes 14.0s to open and close.

Lighter and stiffer than before, the Portofino rides on 20-inch wheels wrapped in 245/35 and 285/35 Pirelli P-Zero tyres front and rear respectively, while its weight distribution is 46/54 front to rear.

Ferrari’s Magnaride adaptive damping system can also fitted as an option to maintain ride comfort and sharp handling, while spring stiffness has also been dialed up.

Inside, the Portofino features a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual instrument cluster displays alongside the central analogue tachometer, greater rear legroom thanks to slimmer seats and multifunction steering wheel.

Boot space now measures 292 litres in volume.

Other options include a reversing camera and Apple CarPlay functionality.

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