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Ferrari Portofino M "modificata". Rent now!!!

Of the countless unfortunate interruptions to human life caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of new Ferraris is thankfully not one of them. Following the recent launch of the Roma coupe, Ferrari has announced, in its first fully online reveal, the next evolution of its existing entry-level convertible GT car. Meet the Ferrari Portofino M.

Given the generally positive reception and solid sales of the current Portofino, Ferrari has been understandably cautious with this latest update. Keen eyes will notice the lightly resculpted air vents in its front bumper and a new rear bumper with a redesigned diffuser, but that's about the extent of the changes. The new Portofino maintains its otherwise alluring overall shape and proportions as a four-seat grand tourer, as well as its folding hardtop that can be raised or lowered in 15 seconds at speeds up to 25 mph.

The M added to the new Portofino's name stands for modificata—Italian for modified—which Ferrari has occasionally employed over the years to denote certain models that bring significant technological upgrades. For the Portofino M, those include new camshaft profiles and other tuning tweaks to its front-mounted twin-turbo 3.9-liter V-8. Output is now a Roma-matching 612 horsepower, up from the original Portofino's 591, with the exhaust gases flowing through a supposedly louder set of active pipes that do away with the previous car's rear silencers—the better to compensate for the muffling effect of the new gasoline particulate filter.

A rear-mounted dual-clutch automatic transmission harnesses the engine's 561 lb-ft of torque with eight speeds instead of the previous seven. As before, Ferrari electronically limits the engine's torque in lower gears, with the full amount of twist only coming in seventh and eighth. Compared to the transmission's application in the SF90 Stradale, Ferrari says the M's taller ratios in higher gears plus revisions to its programming improve both the Portofino's fuel efficiency and smoothness when cruising around town.

The Portofino M's steering-wheel-mounted manettino selector dial also adds a Race mode to the existing Wet, Comfort, Sport, and ESC-Off settings, all of which coordinate the car's various drive systems, including its stability controls, the electronic differential, and Ferrari's overarching Slide Slip Control system. Lastly, Ferrari says the Portofino M's brake pedal has slightly less travel and is easier to modulate. Other than some minor tuning updates, the Portofino's suspension carries over unchanged.

Similarly, aside from the addition of optional heated and ventilated front seats, the Portofino M's interior remains familiar and highly attractive. It's also properly high-tech with its 10.3-inch center touchscreen, plus twin TFT displays flanking the center analog tachometer and an available 7.0-inch touchscreen for the front passenger to fiddle with.

Ferrari has yet to release timing and pricing for the United States but says the Portofino M will go on sale in Europe in late spring of 2021 with a starting price that converts to about $243,000. But we're betting the entry point will be somewhat closer to the 2020 Portofino's $218,750 base price when it finally goes on sale in the U.S. Hopefully, we'll have experienced the car in the metal before then.

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