Ferrari Portofino VS Audi RS5
- Comfort and composure
- Epic engine
- Gorgeous design
- Hefty cost
- Doesn't sound terrific all the time
- Cramped rear seats
- Tight rear headroom
- Misses V8 growl
- Rear entry/egress
Forget California! Ferrari is an Italian brand, so when the time came for the marque to redo its entry-level model - as well as rename it - the geographical tack was at last rightfully placed in its home country.
Enter the all-new Ferrari Portofino 2019 model.
If you’ve travelled the Italian coast, you might know Portofino. It’s located on the picturesque Italian Riviera at the edge of the Ligurian Sea, between Cinque Terre and Genoa, and it’s known for attracting wealth and celebrity to its exclusive shoreline.
It’s gorgeous, classic, timeless; all terms also suitable for this new convertible model, which looks so much better than the California did. And, quite truthfully, it looks more Italian, which is important for this macchina, a true auto sportivo italiana.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
This car has some seriously big shoes to fill - think Ian Thorpe size, but bigger. It’s Audi’s new, second-generation RS 5 Coupe, the Bavarian maker’s mid-size performance flagship, sitting above the S5, and on paper it’s a clear step ahead of the model it replaces.
It’s powered by a 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V6 pumping out enough kilowatts to power a small town, and features a new eight-speed Tiptronic auto, sending drive to all four wheels via Audi’s latest generation quattro system.
Sitting on the VW Group’s MLBevo platform, it’s around 60kg lighter, and more fuel-efficient, yet able to blast from 0-100km/h in less than four seconds.
The thing is, the last RS 5 had something this new rocket ship doesn’t; a superbly sonorous, 4.2-litre, naturally aspirated V8 sitting in its nose.
I straight-up loved the out-going RS 5, bonding with it over thousands of kilometres here and overseas. Up and down Europe’s most challenging alpine passes, and in a previous life, knocking over a story where we drove through eight European countries in a single day.
This new RS 5 produces the same number of kilowatts as the old atmo hero, but adds roughly 30 per cent more torque. The question is, can it match or better its older counterpart on that most intangible parameter – charisma?
|Engine Type||2.9L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The overall score doesn’t necessarily reflect how good this car is, but that’s because we have to factor in safety kit and equipment. Those things matter, sure. But if you really want a Ferrari Portofino, you’ll probably read the drive impressions and look at the photos, both of which should be enough to push you over the line if you’re not quite there yet.
The Ferrari Portofino 2019 model is not just bellissimo to look at, it’s also a more Italian offering. And that’s buonissimo.
Do you think the Portofino the best Ferrari-offering? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
While it may not sound as good as the outgoing model, the new RS 5 is blindingly fast, outstanding dynamically and loaded to the gunwales with standard features and tech.
A step ahead on paper, and in reality. It’s a brilliant, and yes, a brilliantly charismatic package.
Has Audi done enough with the new RS 5 Coupe to out-gun its primo performance coupe competitors? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
It’s a more angry-looking entry-level car for the iconic Italian brand, but not in an ugly way.
Sure, some angry faces aren’t pretty. But I bet if Elle Macpherson or George Clooney got cranky at you, you’d still probably find them attractive. And so it is with the Portofino, which has a mildly menacing front end, some scintillating curves over its taut metalwork, and a pair of high-set hips with bold tail lights.
It is undeniably more muscular than the old California was. And filling the wheel arches are 20-inch wheels, which measure eight inches wide at the front (with 245/35 rubber) and ten inches wide (285/35) at the back.
This isn’t a compact car, either - with dimensions of 4586mm long, 1938mm wide and 1318mm tall, the Portofino is longer than some mid-sized SUVs. But boy, does it pull its size off well.
And like many of the beachside manors in the seaside town for which the new model is named, you can shutter yourself in to combat bad weather. The folding electronic roof system takes 14 seconds to raise or lower, and can be operated at speeds up to 40km/h.
I actually think it looks better with the roof on. It’s not often you can say that about a convertible…
In developing the look of this car, Audi says its design team took inspiration from the ultra-wide-body Audi 90 IMSA GTO racer from the late ‘80s, driven to glory in the USA by the legendary likes of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Walter Rohrl.
The RS 5’s cool, confident stance is the result, with the blistered guards, the detail vents clustered with the head and tail-lights, as well as other aero pieces echoing that track weapon.
At just over 4.7 metres long, the new RS 5 is 74mm longer (there’s an extra 15mm in the wheelbase), and a single millimetre wider than the previous RS 5, but it’s still a full 15mm broader across the beam than the current A5 Coupe. The new car also wears a flatter, honeycomb version of the brand’s signature ‘Singleframe’ grille, and sits on bold 20-inch rims.
The interior is luxurious, suitably racy, and black. The multi-adjustable RS sports front seats are trimmed in nappa leather with contrast stitching and quilting on the centre panels.
A typically broad centre console is highlighted by brushed-metal elements with flashes of carbon dialling up the premium look and feel.
The slick, 12.3-inch ‘Virtual Cockpit’ display dominates the view straight ahead, allowing you to switch between screens depending on the mood you’re in and what you want to get up to. While the 8.3-inch hi-res colour ‘MMI touch’ display sits proud of the centre dashtop.
It's a subjective call, but I’m a big fan (no pun intended) of Audi’s approach to the front ventilation outlets, framed within a narrow, chrome-edged band, sweeping confidently across the dash.
You aren’t buying a Ferrari if you want the most practical car for the money, but that doesn’t mean there isn't some semblance of pragmatism to the Portofino.
There are four seats. I know, it’s amazing to think there’s a point in making the Portofino a 2+2 seater, but according to Ferrari, owners of the outgoing California model used those back seats about 30 per cent of the time.
I wouldn’t want to be in the back row that much. It’s designed to play host to little kids or small adults, but anyone nearing my height (182cm) will be very uncomfortable. Even tiny adult males (like fellow auto scribe Stephen Corby, for example) reckon it’s tight and not a pleasant place to be back there. (link to existing review). But if you have kids, there are two ISOFIX child seat anchor points.
The boot space is not huge, but with 292 litres of cargo capacity with the roof up, there’s enough room for a weekend’s worth of luggage for a couple (Ferrari says you can fit three cabin bags in that configuration, or two with the roof down). And - a tidbit for the actual customers out there- it has more luggage capacity than you get in a new Corolla hatch (217L).
As for cabin comfort, the front seats are sumptuous, and there are some nice elements like the 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which is pretty easy to use, if a little slow to load when you’re skipping between screens or trying to key locations into the sat-nav system.
There are also two 5.0-inch digital screens in front of the driver, mounted either side of the rev counter, and the front passenger can have their very own display with speed, revs and gear on show. It’s a neat option.
While it may have some long-distance touring pretence, the Portofino isn’t a beacon of loose-item storage. It has a pair of cupholders, and there’s a small storage tray that will fit a smartphone.
The RS 5 is a classic 2+2, providing generous space for the driver and front seat passenger, with those consigned to the rear still enjoying comfy accommodation, including adjustable ventilation control (with digital display), but tight headroom courtesy of the tapered coupe roofline.
Getting into the back is a moderate struggle, but once behind the driver’s seat, set for my 185cm frame, there’s surprisingly good legroom and decent space for your feet, but sitting fully upright meant twisting my head to an angle that would have any chiropractor rubbing their hands with glee.
Cabin storage runs to a lidded bin between the front seats (with additional space in front), an average size glove box, front-door pockets able to hold standard water bottles, netted map pockets on the front seatbacks, and oddments trays in the rear.
The cupholder count is strong, with two in the front and four in the back, and connectivity runs to two USB ports, an auxiliary-in socket, dual SD card readers, and two 12V outlets. There’s also a wireless charge bay for Qi-enabled devices if you opt for the ‘Technik package’ (more on that later).
Sensor control means the boot unlocks and opens automatically (if the smart key is detected) with a kicking motion under the rear bumper. Load space with rear seats upright is 465 litres VDA (10L more than the outgoing model), and the rear seat backs split-fold 40/20/40 to enhance flexibility and open up extra space for longer or bulkier loads.
There are four cargo tie down points and a luggage net supplied, plus a first-aid kit in a netted cubby on the passenger side, and another netted storage space (taking advantage of the space behind the rear wheel tub) on the driver’s side. The spare is a space saver.
Price and features
It would be silly to think that people who can afford a Ferrari aren’t conscious of finance. Most people who can buy a car like this are very specific about what they will and won’t spend their hard-earned cash on, but according to Ferrari, about 70 per cent of projected Portofino purchasers will be buying their very first Prancing Horse. Lucky them!
And at $399,888 (list price, before on-road costs), the Portofino is as close to an affordable new Ferrari as you’ll get.
Standard equipment includes that 10.25-inch media screen that runs Apple CarPlay (an option, of course) and includes sat nav, DAB digital radio, and acts as a display for the reversing camera with parking guidance lines, plus there are front and rear parking sensors as standard.
The standard wheel package is a 20-inch set, and of course you get leather trim, 18-way electronically adjustable front seats, plus heated front seats and dual-zone climate control, and there’s proximity unlocking, too (keyless entry) with a push-button starter on the steering wheel. Auto LED headlights and auto wipers are standard, as is cruise control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Speaking of Ferrari’s fantastic Formula One-inspired wheel (with paddle shifters), the version with the carbon fibre trim and integrated shift LEDs fitted to our car cost an extra $8300. Oh, and if you do want CarPlay, that'll be $6793 (which is more than the best Apple computer you can buy), and that reversing camera will add $6950 to the price. WHATTTT???
Some of the other options fitted to our car included the Magneride adaptive dampers ($8970), the LCD passenger display ($9501), adaptive front lighting ($5500), a premium hi-fi sound system ($10,100), and a foldable rear-seat backrest ($2701), among plenty of other interior elements.
The as-tested price for our just-under-four-hundred-grand Ferrari, then, was actually $481,394. But who's counting?
The Portofino is available in 28 different colours (including seven blue hues, six grey options, five red and three yellow paint choices).
Cost of entry to the Audi RS 5 Coupe club is $156,600 (before on-road costs); exactly $900 less than the most recent price for the superseded car.
And what’s more, according to Audi, the vast majority of first-gen RS 5 Coupe buyers hit the options list hard, to the tune of around $24k-worth of extras on average (some people would buy another small car with that cash).
So, to surprise and delight prospective buyers of this new version, a whole lot of extra fruit has been piled onto the car’s standard equipment list… and yes, it’s loaded.
Headline inclusions are three-zone climate control air (with ventilated glove box), ‘Dynamic Ride Control’ (with adaptive damper control), LED headlights (including LED DRLs), the nappa leather trim (door and side panel trim inserts in Alcantara), plus a panoramic sunroof (electrically tilting and opening, with electric sun shade).
Then, the RS sport front seats are a story in themselves. Electric adjustment (with memory for the driver) is a given, but they’re also heated, feature pneumatic side bolster adjustment, electric lumbar support, a massage function, and manual extendable thigh support.
But wait, there’s (a lot) more. The base price also includes an extended upholstery package, with the lower part of the centre console, door armrests and door pull handles trimmed in ‘man-made leather’, adaptive cruise control with ‘Stop&Go’ (including traffic-jam assistant and distance indicator), keyless entry and start, heated, folding and auto dimming exterior mirrors (with memory), plus LED tail-lights with dynamic (scrolling) indicators.
There’s also privacy glass (dark tinted rear and rear side windows), a headlight washer system, an RS sport exhaust (with gloss black oval tailpipes), an anti-theft alarm (with interior monitoring, tow-away protection and tilt sensor), interior ambient lighting (with 30 selectable colours and five colour profiles), a frameless, auto-dimming interior mirror, plus door-sill trims with aluminium inlays and illuminated RS emblems.
Okay, deep breath. Also included are ‘Park assist’ (helps steer the vehicle into parallel or perpendicular spaces), 360-degree cameras (four wide-angle cameras covering the area immediately around the vehicle for easier manoeuvring), auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ (digital configurable colour instrument cluster), stainless-steel-finished pedals, and a flat-bottom, multifunction RS sport leather steering wheel.
And now we get to the multimedia, including ‘Audi connect’ (Wi-Fi hotspot and Google services), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, and a Bang & Olufsen ‘3D Sound System’, with no less than 19 speakers, and 755 watts delivered via a 16-channel amplifier.
It also features DAB+ digital radio, ‘MMI navigation plus’, including an 8.3-inch high-res colour display, 10 GB flash memory, and integrated voice control.
That’s a motherload of stuff, and doesn’t even consider the laundry list of standard active and passive safety tech covered in the safety section below.
If all that isn’t enough, there are a series of individual options on offer, like a carbon-fibre roof ($4900), ceramic brakes ($11,900), and milled-finish 20-inch alloys ($1600). Or feature bundles, including the ‘Technik package’ (colour head-up display, ‘Matrix LED’ headlights, and more), and ‘RS Design package’ (‘Audi phone box light’ wireless charging for Qi devices, an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, extra leather, lots of red stitching, and multiple RS logos).
Engine & trans
The 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 engine produces 441kW of power at 7500rpm and 760Nm of torque from 3000rpm. That means it has a sizeable 29kW more power (and 5Nm more torque) than the Ferrari California T it replaces.
Plus the 0-100 acceleration time is better, too; it will now hit highway speed in 3.5 seconds (was 3.6sec in the Cali T) and moves past the 200km/h marker in just 10.8sec, if you believe Ferrari’s claim.
Top speed is “more than 320km/h”. Didn’t get a chance to test that, sadly, nor the 0-200km/h time.
The kerb weight for the Portofino is 1664 kilograms, while the dry weight is 1545kg. The weight distribution is 46 per cent front, 54 per cent rear.
The RS 5 Coupe’s 2.9-litre V6 is based on the S4’s 3.0-litre unit, featuring a shorter stroke, and two turbos rather than a single, twin-scroll unit.
It’s an all-alloy design, featuring direct injection, variable inlet valve adjustment, continuous camshaft adjustment, and drive-by-wire throttle control.
With the turbos sitting inside the engine’s 90-degree V, the distances from the exhaust side to the turbos and then from the turbos to the inlet side are short, so they spool up quickly and boost power rapidly.
Maximum torque of 600Nm (+170Nm) is available from just 1900rpm all the way to 5000rpm, with maximum power of 331kW taking over from 5700 to 6700rpm (the latter number being the rev ceiling).
The transmission is an eight-speed auto, taking over from the first-gen RS 5’s seven-speed dual-clutch because of the new car’s additional torque.
It feeds power to all four wheels via the latest iteration of Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, with drive normally distributed 40/60 front to rear, but able to go as much as 85 per cent rear and 70 per cent front, with torque vectoring via the ESC system, and drive managed by a self-locking centre diff, and an electro-mechanical sport diff at the rear.
The twin-turbo-V8-powered Ferrari Portofino uses a claimed 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Not that fuel costs are a big concern if you’re spending $400k on a car.
But that’s more than, say, a Mercedes-AMG GT, (9.4L/100km; 350kW/630Nm) but not as much as a Mercedes-AMG GT R (11.4L/100km; 430kW/700Nm). And the Ferrari has more power than both of those, and it's quicker, too (and more expensive…).
Fuel-tank size for the Ferrari Portofino is 80 litres, enough for a theoretical mileage range of 745km.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 8.8L/100km, the RS 5 emitting 199g/km of CO2 in the process.
Over 500km of twisting, central Tasmanian roads on the launch drive program, we averaged a dash-indicated 12.4L/100km, which represents some intense periods of ‘spirited’ driving, with a best of 11.9L/100km recorded on one slightly more sedate 120km city and outer-urban section.
You’ll need 58 litres of 98RON premium unleaded to fill the tank.
Compared to the California T it replaces, the new model is stiffer, has a lighter all-aluminium chassis, gets a reworked transmission and also includes an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
It’s faster, has more tech - like electronic exhaust bypass valves to make it sound better - and it's gorgeous.
So it's fast and fun? You bet. It has electronic power steering, which mightn’t be as tactile in terms of road feel as a vehicle with a hydraulic steering setup, but it is rapid in its reactivity, and arguably offers better point-and-shoot ability as a result. Old diminutive Corby criticised it for being very light and somewhat lacking, but I reckon that as an entry point to the brand, it serves as a very manageable steering setup.
The adaptive magnetorhelogical dampers do a magnificent job in allowing the Portofino to ride over rough patches of road, including pockmarks and potholes. It hardly ever feels ruffled, although there is some scuttle shake to the windscreen, as is often found in convertible cars.
The most surprising element to this Ferrari is that it is supple and reserved at times, but can turn into a manic machine when you want it to.
With the Manettino drive-mode dial on the steering wheel set to Comfort, you will be rewarded with sedate progress and cushioning from the road surface below. In Sport mode, things are all a bit more growly and rigid. I personally found the transmission in this mode, when left in Auto, was eager to upshift to help save fuel, but still responded pretty quickly when I put my foot down hard.
Turning Auto off means it’s you, the pedals and the paddles, and the car won’t overrule your decisions. If you want to see just how realistic that 10,000rpm tacho top is, you can test it in first, second, third… oh wait, you need to keep your licence? Just keep it to first.
Its braking is tremendous, with aggressive application resulting in seatbelt-tensioning response. Plus not only was the ride comfortable, the balance and control of the chassis was both predictable and inherently manageable in corners, and there was plenty of grip, even in the damp.
With the roof down, the noise of the exhaust is exhilarating under hard throttle, but I found it droned a bit under less-urgent acceleration, and in most instances of ‘regular driving’ it actually just sounded loud, rather than lush.
Things that were annoying? The throttle response is dull for the first part of the pedal travel, making for some testing moments in traffic. Not helping that is the fact the engine stop-start system is exceptionally overactive. And that there’s no fuel use readout on the digital trip computer screen - I wanted to see what the car was claiming in terms of fuel use, but I couldn’t.
First impressions are dominated by the V6 twin-turbo engine’s mountainous torque. In fact, it’s less a peak and more of an imposing plateau, with 600Nm available across a broad spread from 1900rpm to 5000rpm.
Maximum power takes over from 5700 to 6700rpm, so from go to whoa there’s monumental thrust lurking under your right foot. Audi claims 0-100km/h in 3.9sec, which is six tenths faster than the previous V8, with the RS 5 able to surge on to an electronically controlled top speed of 250km/h (280km/h with the limiter optionally removed). This car is a rocket.
The eight-speed auto is smooth yet quick and positive. And in terms of the speed and definition of shifts, you’re not really losing anything relative to the seven-speed dual-clutch in the old RS 5.
Suspension is a five-link design front and rear, the first-gen RS 5 using a trapezoidal link set-up at the back. This car’s lighter engine (a hefty 31kg down) improves balance with less weight on the front axle improving steering response and agility. Even at 1.7 tonnes, the car feels agile, planted, and puts its power down with reassuring authority. Damping is outstanding.
Rubber is high-end Hankook Ventus S1 evo2s, and despite their 20-inch size, they are surprisingly compliant and quiet. And speaking of noise, the previous car’s atmo V8 was raucous music to any performance enthusiast’s ears, and somehow Audi’s managed to tune in its characteristic, guttural growl for this V6, mainly using flaps in the exhaust. Not quite as free and angry as the V8 it replaces, but satisfyingly gruff all the same.
The engine and exhaust noise won’t be an issue if you’ve never heard the old one. This car sounds great, and the mid-range is so beautifully meaty, that on a twisting B-road a smile naturally appears on your face.
‘Drive Select’ allows tuning of the engine and gearbox, suspension, sport diff and exhaust. But beware the ‘Dynamic’ suspension mode, if you have fillings they’re likely to rattle free. Best left for track days.
The (electro-mechanical) steering feels great, with linear response, and road feel is also good. Overall, the RS5 Coupe delivers a truly involving drive experience.
The brakes are pretty much professional grade, with big six-piston calipers up front and two-piston floating calipers at the rear. Rotors are ventilated and perforated all around (375mm front / 330mm rear).
If you’ve got a lazy 12 grand burning a hole in your pocket you can add the carbon-ceramic package, but the standard brakes are fantastic, and you’d have to be a dedicated track-day fanger to need them.
There is no ANCAP or Euro NCAP crash-test score available for any Ferrari model, and it’s fair to state that safety tech isn’t the reason you buy a Ferrari.
The RS 5 Coupe doesn’t leave much on the table when it comes to active and passive safety.
Attention assist, ‘Audi pre-sense city’ (with AEB and pedestrian detection), ESC (with electronic wheel-selective torque control), ABS, ASR, EDL and Brake Assist are all standard.
There’s also a tyre-pressure-monitoring system, adaptive cruise control (including a distance indicator and speed limiter), active lane assist, ‘Audi parking system plus’ (front and rear with visual display), ‘Audi pre-sense front’ (provides collision mitigation up to 250km/h), blind-spot warning, collision-avoidance assist, rear cross traffic assist, turn assist (monitors oncoming traffic when turning right at low speeds), an exit warning system (detects cars and cyclists when opening doors), and auto high beam.
And if all that’s not enough to help you avoid a crash, there are six airbags on board (front airbags for driver and passenger, side airbags for front passengers, and head-level curtain airbags for front and rear).
Ferrari servicing won’t cost you a cent for the first seven years, and that’s whether you hold on to it or sell it - the new owner will have access to complementary maintenance for whatever is left of the initial seven-year period.
The standard warranty offer from Ferrari is a three-year plan, but if you sign up for the New Power15 program, Ferrari will cover your car for up to 15 years from the first registration date, and that includes cover for major mechanical components including the engine, transmission, suspension and steering. It reportedly costs $4617 for V8 models like this - a drop in the financial ocean at this price point.
Audi provides a three year/unlimited warranty, with three years paint cover, and a 12-year rust perforation guarantee. ‘AudiCare’ 24-hour roadside assistance is complimentary for three years.
The recommended service interval is 15,000km/12 months, and the ‘Audi Genuine Care Service Plan’ is available to cover scheduled servicing for three years/45,000km (whichever comes first).