Ferrari and Lamborghini both have quiet Frankfurt debuts

Frankfurt Motor Show: New Portofino and Aventador S Roadster make surprisingly low-key entrances at Frankfurt

 Ferrari’s new Portofino

Ferrari’s new Portofino


Normally, news of a new Ferrari or Lamborghini would have us swinging from the rafters with excitement. News that both storied car makers were bringing a new model each to one motor show should have been the full chimp’s tea party in exuberance terms. Oddly, though, both Ferrari and Lamborghini have introduced a new car each at Frankfurt without quite the hoopla that would normally accompany such news. Is it the lack of any electric or hybrid version? Has the world truly tired of stampeding Italian horsepower?

Perhaps, in Ferrari’s case, it’s the fact that the car in question is really a facelift, rather than an all new model. The Portofino is a heavily updated an re-worked example of what has been the entry-level Ferrari, the California. Why has the name moved from the US west coast to the Italian Adriatic coast? Dunno. Something to do with Trump, maybe.

Actually, it has been significantly re-designed and re-engineered from the California. The most obvious visual changes are the new lights, which are quite similar to those used on the GTC4 Lusso, and the new roof which is still a folding hardtop, but which now has rear pillars that arc back a little further, giving the Portofino amore fastback-like shape, rather than the ‘turret’ roof of the old California.

Inside, the cabin has been upgraded with a new centre console, also largely lifted from the GTC4 Lusso, and more space has been found in the tiny rear seats thanks to slimmer front chairs. Ferrari has also tweaked the air conditioning to be quieter and the airflow over the cockpit when the roof is down has been smoothed out.

But you don’t care about such things in a Ferrari, do you? You want to know how fast it is. Well the answer is very, and we might have to recalibrate our ‘entry-level’ expectations of this model. Thanks to chassis and structure changes, Ferrari has removed 80kg of weight from the car, while engine power, from the 3.8-litre turbo V8, has gone up by 40hp to a whopping 600hp, and 760Nm of torque. Fed to the rear wheels through a dual-clutch transmission, Ferrari claims that the Portofino has zero turbo lag, and will hit 100kmh in just 3.5secs. Almost as fast is the folding roof, which tucks away in 14secs.

To counter the muffling effect of the turbos, Ferrari has given the Portofino a clever sports exhaust system, which also has three startup modes. There’s a quiet mode, for those early airport runs when you don’t want to disturb the neighbours, a medium mode which gives you a little extra noise, and a full-on sports mode, which should sound a bit like an F1 car starting up.

It should be more fun to drive too. Ferrari has added stiffer suspension front and rear, and fitted dual-coil “Magnaride’ dampers. There is electric power steering though, so we’re not sure yet how that will affect the Portofino’s dynamic performance.

The new Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster
The new Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster

Lamborghini hasn’t been honing its bonkers Aventador S so much as it’s just been removing some body panels. The Aventador S Roadster clocks in with a €500,000 price tag (allowing for Irish VRT and VAT), and a 730hp naturally-aspirated V12. Thanks to its standard four-wheel drive, the Aventador S will rip off a 0-100kmh run in just 3.0secs, and go on to a top speed of more than 330kmh. That should be enough to bring your hairline back an inch or two, even with the 50kg weight penalty relative to the coupe version.

It comes with a new (appropriately named) EGO electronic driving mode which allows you to tailor the throttle, steering, and suspension to your liking, and now has such niceties as Apple CarPlay embedded in the infotainment system. Quite why you’d need that with a 730hp V12 just behind the back of your head, I’m not sure, but it's there anyway. The carbon-fibre removable hardtop weighs just 6kg and stores under the front bonnet, and carbon-ceramic brakes are fitted as standard. Just as well, really…