Ownership Verified: "MIGLIA" Road Trip Machine for nugget and equiraptor

Nugget

Fuck Cancer
DONOR
Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
689
Location
Tejas Hill Country
Car(s)
GT3 RS, Cayenne, Bugeye Sprite, Portofino M
Way back in August of 2021, @equiraptor and I started shopping for a “road trip machine.” We've made some of our best memories together during road trips. While the Cayenne seems to love covering ground, we were looking for something convertible and more rewarding to drive in the twisties. We considered and drove a great many "sporty GT cruiser" cars and ultimately chose a Ferrari Portofino M. We both felt that handling and driving dynamics were our top priority and the Ferrari was the twitchiest, Miata-ist, lightest-feeling car in the class that we could find. We placed a deposit in early September 2021 and finally took delivery on January 30 2023 (513 days after our initial visit to the dealership).

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Styling

The Portofino M is almost certainly the final car from Ferrari that features the softened angular design language that began with the 458 in 2009. The most recent cars (SF90, Roma, and 296) have kicked off an organic, curvier aesthetic. I really love how the newer cars recall a much classier era of Ferraris, but a high-tech, touch-screen, all-digital driver's experience is not what I'm looking for in an Italian car. I think Ferrari need a few more years of refinement before I would want to embrace the next generation. I’m quite happy buying the last of the old guard which is far more tested and solid. Relatively, of course.

We went with a "GT cruiser" spec. Lots of brown leather for @rickhamilton620 and absolutely no carbon fiber. I think it all fits the car's personality perfectly.

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Performance

Caveat: we haven’t had this car out on track yet (other than a parade lap once) so this is entirely based on street driving and street performance.

The car is stupid fast and as the speed increases it gets fast faster. If that makes sense. I haven’t run any data but I swear it takes less time to get from 100 mph to 120 mph than it just took from 80 mph to 100 mph. And it's scary because I have no idea how long it can keep that up. We’ll need to get this car out at COTA to really know how it accelerates. Even lonely, straight highways in west Texas aren’t open enough to really run this thing.

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Everything in this car is twitchy and on a hair trigger except for the throttle mapping. The brakes bite quicker than you’d expect. The steering rack is tight and requires very little input. Even the volume on the stereo adjusts a little bit faster than you want. Swapping back and forth between this and the Cayenne is jarring. In practice the tight controls allow for economy of motion to the driver. You can drive even very twisty mountain roads without ever having to shuffle steer. Hands at 9 and 3 will get you through most corners.

The crazy Ferrari steering wheel allows fingertip access to lights, wipers, turn signals, volume, and just about anything you might want to do. All without ever taking your hands away from 9 and 3. It’s awkward and unusual at first, but I found once my hands learned how to do everything I really appreciate the efficiency of it all.

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The dual clutch transmission behaves nothing like Porsche PDK. With the Porsche cars you dramatically change the shifting personality of the car when switching between normal, sport, and sport plus modes. In sport plus a Porsche will hold gears longer and ambitiously downshift to keep you in torque. This means higher revs, which brings strong engine braking. That makes it easier to induce lift oversteer. That makes the car fun. When I drive a Porsche in Sport Plus mode I almost never need to flap the paddles. When I want high revs the transmission is already there.

The Ferrari is nothing like this. In the Ferrari the transmission will just follow your lead. If you're not heavy on the pedal the car will upshift all the way to 8th gear even at 40 mph (65 kph) and trundle along at 1000 rpm, even in "race" mode. The turbos give the engine enough torque that you won’t really mind, but it’s slow to kick down to a lower gear and doesn’t feel nearly as responsive as you’d think a Ferrari should. Just setting race mode doesn’t make the car feel racy at all.

What you have to do is hoon the car a bit. Floor it. Manhandle it through a corner. Turn sharp. Brake hard. A few seconds of being a hooligan and you start getting shifts with attitude. It will hold lower gears longer and resist upshifting. You get more revs more quickly. It's raucous.

And if you calm down, in a matter of seconds the car does too.

I’m growing to appreciate this Jeckll/Hyde behavior for a grand tourer like the Portofino. The more I develop the habit of using the shifter paddles the more I'm rewarded by the car. I can say, trundling along in 8th gear at Autobahn cruising speeds is truly a zen experience in this car as the road just whizzes by beneath you. In the twisties it feels lively and nimble.

Another interesting difference from Porsche is the traction control and stability control. In a Porsche GT car I get the sense that the engineering team has spent all their energy making the car as performant as possible. I have confidence that the software is always maximizing grip and performance as much as physics wil allow. In the Ferrari any hard acceleration sends the back tires squirming and wiggling. You fishtail a little bit, launching you forward in a flurry of drama. You look and feel like a driving god. That's the computers doing their magic. The Italians sacrificed some of those precious CPU cycles to the sense of occasion. It’s fun, but maybe a little bit affected.

Suitability (The Mission)

I held off creating the thread until we'd had the car for a bit. We've already been on one road trip (Santa Fe, NM) and according to my Road Trip app we've put about 55 miles (88 km) a day on it since we picked it up. In a few weeks we're headed back west to Park City, Utah and I'm sure we'll learn even more about the car on that drive as well. So far I'm super chuffed. There's no justifying the expense but I struggle to think of another car that's better suited for us and what we hope to do with it. It has absolutely exceeded my expectations so far. I'm sure equi will follow up with her thoughts...

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Obligatory anti-frankiess pic:
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So a 2004 Ford Mustang GT Convertible isn’t rewarding in the corners? 🥹


Nah, I’m kidding, congratulations on this! That’s so cool and I’m jelly for sure.
 
What a perfect spec for that car. Color is outstanding and the interior is a perfect compliment. May you have many, many happy miles in your future!
 
Very tasteful, the more metallic green cars, the better! You both have a lot more patience than me too, I struggled with the month wait for my Tesla. :D

It's interesting that you should mention it being the most like a Miata, I was disappointed that the new concept MG Cyberster (awful name) revealed was much bigger than a Miata or the MGF but clearly a car that size can still feel nimble.

Interior is a nice design and combination of colours, I can't help but see a Tusken Raider in the centre of the dash though, riding with you all the time with his swivel eyes. :LOL:
 
Yeah, I can only join the others saying that this is a friggin awesome color and interior for the car. Great choice, and props for waiting as long as you did :) Many happy roadtrip miles!
 
The color is Verde Silverstone, a mid-'90s heritage color for Ferrari. It was a launch color for the F355 and an upsell option for the 456. We debated colors when placing the order and this was our top pick. Our Houston dealer managed to locate a period correct paint sample card at the New York dealership, so they painted up a sample using the current formula which was then shipped up to New York so the dealer there could visually compare the OG color with the current mix. We liked how it looked and rolled with it.

In the shade it's black, in direct sunlight it has strong green highlights, and on a cloudy day it can take on a bit of blue, but not as dramatic as Mazda's Montego Blue, or Toyota's Aquamarine Pearl. It's definitely a green, but weirder than Verde BRG or Verde Pino.
 

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Very tastefully specced! I appreciate the effort to go with paint-to-sample as well, that's dedication.
 
PPG Confidential Information - *takes picture and posts it on the internet* :ROFLMAO:
 
Thank you for going for a fun color.
Enjoy and congrats!
 
Congratulations! Great car in a great color.
 
It's interesting that you should mention it being the most like a Miata, I was disappointed that the new concept MG Cyberster (awful name) revealed was much bigger than a Miata or the MGF but clearly a car that size can still feel nimble.
Yeah, this part of the experience kind of breaks my brain a little bit. A 3800 pound car is not supposed to feel this nimble & agile. It's not supposed to move that heavy front end into a turn this quickly and responsively. Someone, somewhere is lying to me. Could it be my old biases?

On suitability: After 12 years with a GT3 RS I was tired of enduring a harsh car on long, straight, basic drives. Heck, I was tired of that well before 2021 (see: Cayenne tow vehicle). But after 17 years with Miatas, I did not want to drive a typical grand tourer experience on mountain roads. So few GT/cruiser/comfortable cars can turn-in like a Miata, even if you align them more aggressively than stock. So few cars have that quick steering rack the Miata has, those fast, agile, playful responses to inputs.

The steering rack in the Portofino is quick, even in wet & comfort mode. And I swear it's quicker in Sport & Race. Driving it in the twisties I find it's reasonably playful, very confidence inspiring, and genuinely fun. I prefer to have it in manual mode for this sort of driving, as my "ok, maintain near the speed limit on the straights, don't need to be a speed demon" triggers the Dr. Jekyll shift profile, and then I corner hard and get on the throttle and the Mr. Hyde program shows up, mid corner. If I keep it in manual mode I can keep it in, "Somewhere in between, y'all, not one extreme or the other," the whole time. One of the things I really enjoy about this transmission, that I often miss in automatics, is the easy ability to put it in neutral and then back into gear, as I'm going downhill on the twisty roads. Pull both paddles for neutral, pull the up paddle and it chooses a good gear to go back into (even if you've changed speed/circumstances and "a good gear" has changed). That "soapbox derby" freewheeling feel is quite nice. And I know, I know, don't sacrifice control. It goes back into gear quick and easy and I don't give it a chance to get overspeed and possibly overwork the brakes (which is unlikely anyway, with the brakes that are on it, but one doesn't take the chance).

On basic, boring, "Just get point A to B" roads it covers the distance easily. With that quick steering rack and responsive turn-in, one might expect a car that's twitchy on the freeway, doesn't like to stay in its lane, stay centered. That hasn't been my feel of the car at all. It seems possible Ferrari is tweaking the ratios of the steering rack based on circumstances, but if they are it's subtle. Steering is still very quick for lane changes and curves, but it's not twitchy like toe-out causes, nor does it climb in and out of ruts like camber will make a car do. Driving it long distances is not fatiguing like is so often the case, and as a passenger I can sleep soundly. I also find I can go whatever speed I would like without traffic being a problem. People get out of a Ferrari's way. We both try to drive very politely in it and it doesn't seem to be a, "Let me get out of the asshole's way," behavior. It's more just, "Oh, of course that car is fast, no reason for me to be in front of it," sort of attitude. They have that attitude even if I'm driving slowly (whoops! didn't mean to be a problem). It seems like if we're not being rude, people are nice. "Being around people" in the Portofino has been a very positive experience.

That said, stop-and-go traffic in this car is frustrating. Nugget mentioned the quick brakes, and man, it is difficult to be subtle at low speed with them. There's no gentle slowing from 4 mph to a stop (a thing all of our others will do, even the track brakes on the RS). The car has engine start/stop, but it seems to recognize stop and go traffic and not turn the engine off. I still often disable the function if in stop-and-go traffic, but meh, I wouldn't call that a flaw. I think part of my frustration in stop-and-go traffic is my mental image of the clutch in the dual clutch transmission, and the flywheel, and I know it's a wet clutch in this car but I still don't like thinking about the clutch slipping. This is another situation where judicious use of neutral helps.

There are some behaviors to the car that we've... discovered as we've gone. The owner's manual has no table of contents, and the index is poorly organized. While I'm a fan of reading manuals and have tried to read this one, a lot of the car is, "Experiment and figure it out. Do not expect the Italians to have written it down. Also, if you think like a German you will be frustrated. Think in Italian!" An example: We're sitting at a red light. It's been a long light, we've been sitting here a while. The car makes a bonging noise and we have no idea what it is (just one quick "Bong!" then just the engine idling again). There's no warning lights, no caution lights, nothing particularly highlighted on the dash, just that one bong. Weird. Some time passes, light turns green. We try to go and... the car is in neutral. Whaaa? Did I put it in neutral and forget? How did this happen? Oh, and unlike a manual, I have to put my foot on the brake for it to engage 1st (if I'm stopped – but not if rolling! I swear Ferrari was just trying to confuse me). And so now I'm at a green light struggling to go trying to remember how to put it in gear. It took us too long to realize the bong was the car telling us it put itself into neutral because we'd been in 1st at a light longer than it wanted. Since I realized that, if I'm at a red light and the start/stop hasn't stopped the engine, I put it in neutral myself. Now I know and I'm prepared to put it in 1st, watching for the light to change so I can be ready. That's what I generally do in manuals anyway. Driving this automatic car is much more like driving a manual than many other cars.

I also have to be patient when trying to accelerate after start/stop turns the engine back on or it's just re-engaged 1st. If I try to accelerate as promptly as I might in the Miata, I'll get nothing for a fraction of a second, and then I'll have a wheel-spinning high torque launch. While I don't mind the rear end dancing about, that probably isn't great for the drivetrain and I don't like looking like an asshole. So I give the car a moment between engaging 1st or engine start up and asking it to accelerate. Then I proceed from the light smoothly like a normal person. No, car, I don't want you to drop the clutch.

Overall, the Portofino is a joy to drive. If I'm going to be on straight roads for more than a few minutes it is my car of choice. I still choose the Miata for back roads driving, and since we essentially live on one of those back roads now, for short errands. But my 30 minute drive to the doctor has a lot of long straight, as well as some curvy, and I choose the Portofino for that. It's a car that's easy and comfortable when that's what I want, and playful and joyful when that's what I want. This car is absolutely wonderful and I look forward to thousands of miles spent in it.
 
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Driving this automatic car is much more like driving a manual than many other cars.
I think this is a great way to say it. Driving a PDK Porsche is like driving the best automatic transmission that modern engineering can produce. Driving the flappy-paddle Ferrari is like driving a manual transmission that doesn't require your left foot. No judgement in that statement at all, it's just a huge difference that I hadn't expected.
 
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Congrats, it looks like it was absolutely worth the wait.

I wish you both many happy miles & smiles in this lovely specced Portofino!
 
I'm just here to say "Portofino" some more.

"Portofino"

I always hear it as the actress at the beginning of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" who draws Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) away from Beaumont-sur-mer.
 
Portofino.
 
Portillo’s
 
I like hooning. I approve of a new hooncar.
 
A bit past midnight last night we returned home from a 3,600 mile (5,800 km) road trip through Utah and Colorado. We attended the Everyday Driver Utah Adventure and did some of our own road tripping on the way there and on the way back.

Current odometer shows 9,468 miles (15,237 km) in the four months that we've had the car. It continues to amaze and deliver on exactly what we'd hoped for it.

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In Albuquerque we went looking for Mike Ehrmantraut but he wasn't working the booth:
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I'd never been to Utah before and the terrain was gobsmacking. I felt like I was on a different planet most of the trip as we drove through basically every biome except for ocean and beach

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Our group had 25 or so cars and we did a lot of key swapping and passenger hopping over the three days.

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Including an LS3-swapped 944 which was just as much fun as you're probably imagining it is

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Thanks to our hosts' familiarity with the area, we got to drive on some really obscure and mostly empty roads that there's no way we'd have been able to discover on our own

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The Portofino delivered exactly what we'd hoped. It soaked up the distance in speed and comfort on the boring bits of our drive, and it turned into a 600hp Miata on the fun, twisty bits. By the end of the trip the car was filthy and we've cracked the windshield. Replacement ordered, should get fixed up next week, ($7k for the replacement glass, yikes!)

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