Rosso Portofino is a lipstick-red, reminiscent of a 1950’s Hollywood starlet, and the stunningly attractive form of the Ferrari Portofino, upon first sight, lives up to the promise of such a deeply alluring color.
There’s something thrilling about stalking towards a Ferrari, imagining the ride that is about to come. The Portofino Grand Tourer is aesthetically so indescribably sophisticated, you can tell that under the hood the significantly improved matt-black twin-turbo V8 engine will deliver a satisfyingly feline roar. You’ll receive an exhilarating rush of endorphins too from handling this sportscar with a power unit that has been the overall winner in 2016 and 2017 of the prestigious and highly respected International Engine of the Year Award, and bazaar expects this version to win again.
Settling in burying myself in the embrace of the plush leather magnesium frame with ultra-compact seatback profile seats, arms at length, watching the carbon-fibre steering wheel lower itself into position feels like a rocket-launch countdown. The ignition is pushed into play and the engine bursts into life.
Ferrari purports the Portofino to represent the perfect combination of design, performance and technology, ideal for any occasion and to drive every day. With careful remodeling the cabin is more spacious with additional room in the luggage compartment for those last-minute weekend getaways.
You can also quickly take advantage of changes in the weather while you’re cruising along as the California T replacement converts effortlessly from a berlinetta coupé to a drop-top convertible with the perfected Retractable Hard Top (RHT), now taking only 14 secs to fully deploy up to 40 KM. The supercar also boasts additional power, so we planned to put the comfort and performance to the test with an extensive road trip across Kuwait to some of the most iconic locations to be found.
Just like the new Ferrari the Kuwait Scientific Centre is an example of classic design and the latest technology experienced side-by-side. Nestled in the centre’s harbor is a dhow which we pull up to the side of, tightly maneuvering the Portofino around columns and steel wires that support the Scientific Centre’s sail-like structure, the convertible expertly handling the challenge, despite its 1938mm width.
Exiting onto the Arabian Gulf Road, we head up to the Kuwait Towers. The twin turbo engine is specifically designed to not feel any turbo lag and although driving through traffic lights and jams, low speeds and sometimes bumpy roads the lighter car is immediately responsive when the foot is put to the gas. Sport mode responds faster than comfort mode as it should but the Portofino is impressive no matter what.
Slowing down by the Parliament building, designed by the same architect who was responsible for the Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon, we decide the best roads to check the handling are on the way up to JACC and along and around the underpass in Kuwait City. With a series of u-turns and lanes the 7 speed car easily shifts gear, firing up quickly on the stretches we speed up on, and the carbon-ceramic brakes requiring only the lightest of touches to control.
Wanting to explore the handling on longer stretches we cruise over to the furthest point on our journey which is the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, the modern multi-use stadium which is home to the Kuwait National Football Team. The sportscar proved its aerodynamism, notably keeping the fuel consumption low and the emissions down.
Ferrari’s engineers improved heat dissipation without increasing the radiator dimensions achieving a drag improvement of 6% over the previous model. It’s easy to see now that the curve and flow of the Portofino not only lends a sensuous form to the body but is where the aerodynamic efficiency come from.
The longer drive gives us time to fully appreciate the interior design and the passenger side is particularly noteworthy. So that the passenger can feel a part of the experience of almost being behind the wheel, the horizontal cockpit design features two shells in the dashboard architecture with the passenger being gifted their own dedicated capacitive display. Directly linked to the main screen, it provides all information relating to car speed, rpm and the gear engaged. The infotainment system functions are controlled via to 10.25” touchscreen located at the centre of the dash, within easy reach of both driver and passenger.
One signature characteristic of any Ferrari car is the meticulous care lavished on the selection of the materials, trims and assembly procedures. The Ferrari Portofino’s sporty yet elegant character highlights these aspects of the creative and design processes demanded to hone every single last detail, marrying high-tech elements and materials with manual assembly and handcrafted finishes.
The next journey along the sixth-ring, taking in stunning gang of looming water towers, allows us to enjoy the exceptionally comfortable and relaxing 18-way adjustable electric seats. Aside from longitudinal seat and backrest adjustment, the seat height and angle can also be adjusted, as can the side cushions and the central and lumbar regions of the backrest.
The new Comfort button on the side of the front seats brings up on the infotainment display the controls for the adjustable-length seat cushion (which provides under-thigh support for even taller drivers), seat and backrest side and back support air cushions and heated seat, which we didn’t test our as Autumn temperatures in Kuwait tend not to fall below 40 degrees!
Completing a circle, we drive up towards the Radisson and the Al Boom restaurant, another location featuring a dhow but this time it is imposingly set up off the water and onto land. With dusk fast approaching we decide to quickly nip back up along the coastal road to capture the sunset at Marina waves. The gorgeous headlights blink at us as we’ve exited the car looking back over at the aggressively styled Portofino, appreciating the day’s adventure in this incredible Ferrari.
The Ferrari Portofino is available at the official Ferrari Showroom in Kuwait- Kuwait Automobile & Trading Co located in Al-Rai, on the 4th Ring Road. Please visit www.safat. ferraridealers.com and follow them on Instagram @ferrarialzayanikuwait for the latest updates. Photography by Yousef Al Nasser, @Yousefcam on Instagram for bazaar Studios.