IF YOU'VE EVER DREAMED OF A FERRARI THAT YOU COULD USE EVERYDAY, THEN YOUR DREAM IS NOW A SCARLET REALITY.
WORDS: ANINDA SARDAR
So you wake up in the morning, smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee before the first sip of caffeine really wakes you up. You realise it's a Monday but you're not feeling blue because your everyday car isn't the boring but efficient old luxury saloon. That was your reality last year. This year you've got a spanking new scarlet hot blooded sexy as hell Italian waiting for you to fire her up as you drive off to that corner office on the 45th floor of that posh building on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Till a couple of years ago, this was a difficult dream because, very honestly, Ferrari didn't really have an everyday Ferrari. But that changed when Ferrari launched the California a few years back, and now that dream is even closer to reality with the Portofino that replaces the California.
Since the days of Enzo Ferrari, the brand has always worn its heart on its sleeve. In this day and age of the Net and social media, Ferrari continues to wear its heart on its webpage. So the Portofino is described as the new V8 GT set to dominate its segment. And a mighty heart it is too. That 3855cc, turbocharged V8 generates a collosal 600 whinnying thoroughbreds and a tarmac distorting 760Nm of peak torque that kicks in at 3000rpm and stays till 5250. All of this is sent to the rear wheels, always the rear wheels, using a 7-speed dual clutch transmission that is similar to what they use in F1. Obviously, the damn thing is blindingly fast, notching up a 0-100kmph time of 3.5 seconds while 200kmph goes by in 10.8 seconds. This red hot projectile can actually get up to speeds of over 320kmph if you have the stainless steel nethers that you'll need to really test it out. Not something I am blessed with, so I behaved.
The best hunting ground you can have if you have a Ferrari for a day in Dubai has to be the drive to Jebel Jais. The route will test your patience at first with its mix of traffic laden city roads and then a long speed restricted highway. Halfway through the journey, cruising at the legal 120kmph and fighting the urge to open the taps just a wee bit to get to my destination quickly, I realise that the journey through the city wasn't as bad as it could have been. For a thoroughbred Italian GT car, and a gorgeous one at that, I didn't have to slow down to a crawl at each speed breaker because after the first couple of them I realised this thing doesn't scrape as much as you'd expect it to. Then there is the steering. It's a veritable chatterbox when it comes to feedback and feeling direct but it's not overtly heavy. As a result that parallel parking that I had had to do earlier in the day hadn't felt like a chore at all. Nice. The journey continues to the tune of the gentle burble and lots of stares from the people in other cars. Perhaps I don't look like the sorta guy that'd own a Ferrari, but hey don't you know not to judge a book by its cover?
The road up to the top of the mountain that borders the UAE on one side and the Sultanate of Oman on the other is a beautifully finished three lanes of serpentine tarmac threading its way up the rocky surface. Two lanes to go up and one to get back down. Perfect hunting ground for this GT car. I test things out a little gingerly because this is after all a car that was launched in India for Rs 3.5 crore! Having got the hang of things I decided to let my right foot loose, and ... brrapp! She lunges ahead with the characteristic ferocity of a fiery Italian. The turn arrives quicker than I expected it to, so a dab of the carbon ceramic brakes later I swing her in. Handling is crisp but entertaining. It's exciting. Half an hour of up and down later, I feel it's time to head back.
Cruising back towards the city with the hard top of this beautiful convertible tucked away, I realise I'm grinning, for that's what a Ferrari does to you. That's when the second realisation hits. With its biggish boot (relatively of course), supple ride, decent ground clearance and easy drivability, this is the stuff of dreams. That everyday Ferrari that really never existed before.