Dial M for Modificata: Ferrari makes its ‘accessible’ supercar more hardcore for 2021
|driving.ca 16 Sep 2020 at 13:01|
The Ferrari Portofino is Maranello’s most “accessible” supercar. It’s — and this is most definitely relative — the cheapest Ferrari, the company’s most conventional product, , the last Ferrari to use the traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. In other words, it’s the everyday supercar, the Prancing Horse you might use to go get groceries — after you set a lap record in your other Ferrari, of course.
Well, for 2021, the Portofino gets a harder edge, Ferrari releasing the its M — as in, Modificata — version for the iconic drop-top. In official Ferrari nomenclature, Modificata “refers to cars that have significantly boosted their performance.”
To that end, the new Portofino gets a thoroughly-revised 3.9-litre V8, an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and a new “Race” mode for its now five-position Manettino dial — a first, says Maranello, for any of its GT spiders. Indeed, for the first time since it first introduced the California, Ferrari is talking about the track performance of its former boulevardier.
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To that end, Ferrari’s award-winning — it’s been voted the International Engine of the Year four times — flat-plane crank twin-turbocharged V8 punches out 611 horsepower, 20 ponies more than the previous Portofino thanks to wilder camshafts and squeezing 5,000 rpm out of the boost-generating turbochargers. It’s all hooked up to the new eight-speed — one more than before — DCT with a lower first gear and a taller, fuel economy-intended top gear.
According to Ferrari, the end result is only a slightly faster zero-to-100 km/h sprint of 3.45 seconds, the miniscule (0.05 second) improvement attributed to initial launch — that should be read traction — being the controlling factor. On the other hand, the Portofino M’s zero-to-200 km/h run, which Ferrari says is more accurate measure of actual power, is noticeably quicker at 9.8 seconds.
More importantly, Ferrari claims it has virtually eliminated turbo lag; thanks to its Variable Boost Management system and software that increases the peak torque in higher gears, Ferrari promises “instantaneous throttle response throughout the rev range.”
Harnessing all this power is Ferrari’s proprietary vehicle stability control system, Side Slip Control. For the M, it contains an all-new algorithm specifically tailored to containing rear-drive Portofino’s tail-wagging oversteer. New to this M version, the Portofino’s added Race mode adds a Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer — a fancy name for brake-controlled torque vectoring — to work with the rear E-Diff to maximize traction when cornering at the limit.
That increased performance is certainly reflected in the Portofino M’s more aggressive styling, with its more “imposing” front fascia, blatant air intakes, and rear bumpers that are more streamlined and “sculptural.” The new vents, as well as a totally new diffuser, manage air flow through and over the bodywork, improving both cooling and high-speed aerodynamics. Inside, the design changes are equally subtle with a new 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system allowing simplified buttonry, while a new upper dashboard accentuates the cockpit-like design.
Ferrari will start delivering the Portofino M to customers in the second quarter of 2021. Canadian pricing hasn’t been released, but we do know that it will cost €206,000 in Italy, an increase of €8,000 over its predecessor. It’s worth noting that includes all regularly-scheduled maintenance for the first seven years of the car’s life; not only do Ferraris keep getting faster, but it seems they’re less temperamental as well.