Ferrari Portofino VS Audi TT
- Comfort and composure
- Epic engine
- Gorgeous design
- Hefty cost
- Doesn't sound terrific all the time
- Cramped rear seats
- Rorty engine
- Dynamic balance
- It's quick
- No AEB
- Tight in the back
- Pricey paint
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|
From world rally, sports and touring car success, Audi has motorsport and performance embedded in its DNA. So, no surprise Audi chose Phillip Island for the Australian launch of its TT RS.
Think of Audi and the image of a sleek SUV is the one most likely to pop into your mind. The compact Q3 currently runs neck-and-neck with its A3 sibling as the brand’s top seller in Australia, while the mid-size Q5, and seven seat Q7 SUVs also rack up substantial numbers.
But from the Auto Union ‘Silver Arrows’ of the 1930s, to world rally, sports and touring car success, Audi has motorsport and performance embedded deep in its DNA.
No surprise then, that Audi chose the sensational Phillip Island race circuit for the Australian launch of its much-anticipated TT RS.
Arriving 18 months after the launch of the third-gen regular TT range, the new RS is powered by a further developed version of its signature 2.5-litre, five cylinder turbo-petrol engine, and its abilities have pushed it into an even higher league.
Does the RS’s distinctive design and impressive spec translate into a driving experience capable of knocking off Stuttgart’s mid-engine duo? Stay tuned, as we hit the road and track to find out.
|Engine Type||2.5L 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.
The Audi TT RS is faster, more focused, and even more desirable than the excellent second-gen version it replaces. Is it a 718 Boxster/Cayman crusher? The answer boils down to single-minded purpose versus all-around ability. The price and performance may be comparable, but the Porsches are purer sports cars, relative to TT RS’s broader, multi-purpose personality. Not a bad choice if you’re in the happy position to make it. All we can say is steer this brilliant Bavarian before you settle on Stuttgart’s finest.
Is Audi's TT RS a match for the big performance players? 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…
Close to 20 years ago you could hear the collective gasp as car-spotters around the world first caught sight of the original Audi TT.
It was one of the most innovative automotive designs of the late 20th century, and as time ticked by the big question became, how do you evolve such a ground-breaking shape?
Several ‘how not to do this’ case-studies are on the public record, with the sublime Datsun 240Z, through lengthened and less agile 260Z 2+2, to bloated and ponderous 280Z, being a prime example. Kind of Elvis on wheels.
But somehow Audi has managed to avoid that syndrome and maintain the spirit of the original while gradually morphing the TT into a wider, lower, slicker version of itself.
The third-gen TT wears an evil-eyed, angry expression, with the relatively small glasshouse enhancing the profile’s smooth curvature.
Broad, bold surfaces are beautifully controlled, while the RS’s standard 20-inch rims, and cheeky fixed rear wing add an appropriate sense of menace to an already purposeful stance.
And the RS’s stunning form delivers efficient aero function. A large front splitter and serious diffuser at the rear are clues to careful management of the air flowing under the car as much as that passing over it, and the result is a handy drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.32 for the Coupe, and 0.33 for the Roadster.
Inside is all business, with typical Audi efficiency applied to the key controls and instruments, while brushed metal elements (carbon optional) add a suitably racy feel.
The centre console is subtly angled towards the driver, and the Audi design team has again managed to develop TT-esque elements like the five, circular ventilation outlets, into new but familiar features of the current interior.
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 four-seat TT coupe provides generous space for the driver and front passenger, and unlike some others fitting the ‘2+2’ description, getting in and out (of the front) is a breeze.
In terms of storage, there’s a glovebox, plus a small lidded box in the console, storage drawers under the seats, and bins in the doors, although the latter are just large enough to accommodate a small drink bottle (lying on its side). And if you and your front passenger have stopped to pick up a take-away coffee there’ll be an arm wrestle over the single cup holder in the centre console.
There are two USB inputs and an auxiliary-in socket located in a tissue box-sized storage space hidden under a sliding lid in front of the gearshift.
A charitable person might describe the TT coupe’s rear accommodation - the convertible is a strict two-seater - as cozy, but frankly, it’s tight. It's a scramble to get in, and head and legroom for anyone beyond Year 8 is going to be distinctly uncomfortable. A UN-style negotiation will be required between front and rear occupants to set up a mutually habitable arrangement.
There are outer armrests back there, with oddments trays underneath, but you’re looking at a 100 per cent deficiency in the cupholder department, and no specific ventilation outlets.
But if you really want to get practical and sensible, there’s a generous 305-litre boot (280 in the convertible), with that space more than doubling to 712 litres with those pesky rear seats folded forward. There’s also a 12 volt outlet in there.
There’s no spare tyre. Just a ‘tyre repair kit’, more commonly known as a ‘can of goo’.
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).
As you might expect, at $137,900 for the Coupe, and $141,900 for the Roadster (before on-road costs) the TT RS boasts a lengthy standard equipment list including, electrically adjustable and heated ‘RS’ sport front seats with electric lumbar support and pneumatic adjustment for the backrest side bolsters.
The interior, including the seats, door armrests, door pull handles and centre console, is trimmed in nappa leather with nifty diamond pattern stitching on the centre of the front chairs.
An electrically controlled wind deflector and three-stage neck-level heating for the front seats are standard in the Roadster.
You can also expect, cruise control, keyless entry and start, LED headlights, daytime running lights and tail-lights, tinted ‘privacy’ glass, climate control air, ambient lighting, rain-sensing wipers and auto headlights (including auto high beam), nine-speaker/155 watt audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, plus sat nav including ‘MMI Touch’ functionality and live traffic updates.
Add in the outstanding 12.3-inch, configurable ‘Virtual Cockpit’ display, plus all the safety gear detailed further down, and you’re looking at a solid basket of standard fruit.
Three option packs are available – ‘Advanced Lighting’, which includes Matrix LED headlights, the ‘RS Catalunya red design package’, which as the name implies, adds red highlights to various interior pieces including the air vents, seatbelts and floor mats, plus the ‘RS Nardo grey design package’, which swaps out red for grey highlights.
There are eight exterior colours offered, with ‘Nardo Grey’ the only no-cost option. Choose a metallic shade and you’re up for $1300, with a ‘crystal effect’ finish adding $2000 to the price tag.
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 latest (07K3) version of Audi’s all-alloy 2.5-litre turbo-petrol in-line five cylinder engine is 26kg lighter than the previous version, thanks largely to the addition of an alloy crankcase, and hollow-bored crankshaft.
The ‘Audi valvelift system’ (AVS) operates on the exhaust side to optimise fuel consumption under low or partial loads, and retain the ability to sharpen throttle response and maximise power at full noise.
A range of other upgrades include plasma coated cylinder bores to reduce internal friction, and dual injection which can send fuel into the intake manifold as well as directly into the combustion chamber.
Net result is a 17 per cent power increase, to 294kW at 5850-7000rpm, and maximum torque (480Nm) delivered from just 1700, all the way to 5850rpm. Talk about a beautifully dovetailed dyno sheet.
All that grunt gets to the ground via a new, lighter seven-speed dual clutch gearbox feeding the latest iteration of Audi’s 'quattro' adaptive all-wheel drive system, with an electronic differential lock (EDL) and wheel-selective torque control in support.
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.
Despite its fire and brimstone performance potential the TT RS’s fuel consumption is suitably planet-friendly.
A claimed combined (urban/extra urban) figure of 8.4L/100km is good going for a car this quick, with the tailpipe emitting 192 g/km of CO2 in the process.
Fuel requirement is 98RON premium unleaded, with 55 litres of it required to fill the tank.
Given a large part of this launch first drive was spent ‘pushing on’ through challenging open roads, and hammering around the 4.5km Phillip Island circuit, we didn’t record a test economy figure.
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.
Slip into the grippy RS sports seats, and you’re presented with a chunky sports wheel, complete with manual shift paddles, and Audi’s brilliant virtual cockpit, with additional RS-specific screens for tyre pressure, torque, and g-force.
To go with the RS’s extra power Audi has added lightness, the Coupe dropping to 1440kg (-35kg) and the Roadster weighing in at 1530kg.
As a result, acceleration is supercar rapid, with the Coupe blasting from 0-100km/h in just 3.7sec, while the head-turning, but slightly heavier Roadster takes 0.2sec longer to hit the same number.
And speed is nothing without sound (I’m talking to you Formula E and Elon Musk). The in-line five emits a characteristically guttural growl, with a console switch opening tabs in the exhaust to enhance a spine-tingling howl at the top end.
Speaking of which, in manual mode a shift indicator function in the tacho adds an extra level of engagement by lighting up from 5000rpm through green, amber, and ultimately red segments, before the entire dial blinks manically on arrival at the 7000rpm rev ceiling. Nice touch.
The RS is underpinned by the ultra-stiff Audi Space Frame chassis, and sits 10mm lower than the standard car, with strut front and four-link rear RS Sport suspension, plus ‘Magnetic Ride’ adaptive damper control standard.
Audi Drive Select manages the engine, transmission, steering, dampers and diff to offers four modes – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual.
For Australia, standard rims are 20-inch alloys shod with high-performance 255/30 x 20 Yokohama Advan or Pirelli P Zero rubber. The RS steering is re-tuned for more direct response, and the ESC boasts specific RS settings.
Sport delivers later ESC intervention, and you can give the fun police a send-off by switching it off altogether.
On the open road, with masses of mid-range torque, and heaps of top end power, the TT RS is a rapid and refined point-to-point projectile, with the ability to settle down into a comfortable, quiet city and suburban daily driver when required.
The shift from Dynamic to Comfort mode transforms the ride quality from hard and jittery to smooth and comfy almost instantly, and with the exhaust in a similarly polite setting the TT RS is ready to eat up a peak hour commute.
On the subject of polished behaviour, the Roadster, if a little louder to ride in, is the equal of the Coupe dynamically, and its automatic Z-fold acoustic soft top opens or closes in 10 seconds at speeds up to 50km/h. Very civilised.
Around Phillip Island the TT RS is composed and balanced at speeds that would see lesser machines spinning off into the weeds. We took a quick peek and saw 245km/h (just five kays off the electronically-limited maximum) staring back at us on entry to the braking zone for turn one.
You can feel the quattro system and its connected electronic wizardry keeping the car in a stable state with the steering communicating every movement through the imposing layout’s seriously quick, sweeping corners.
The electromechanically-assisted, variable ratio steering has a satisfyingly direct connection with the front wheels, without a hint of shock or unnecessary reaction, and the Pirelli P Zero rubber (fitted to our car) is superb.
And on a circuit as epic as ‘the island’ big speed needs to be matched with big brakes and thanks to massive ventilated 370mm discs with eight piston calipers at the front, and 310mm solid rotors at the rear, the RS washes off speed with consistent authority.
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.
On the active side of the safety equation the TT RS features ‘Attention assist’ (alert tone and visual signal if system determines the driver’s attention may be lapsing), ‘Active lane assist’ (corrective steering intervention and steering vibration), ‘Side assist’ (blind spot warning), a tyre pressure monitoring system, Electronic Stabilisation Control (ESC) with electronic wheel-selective torque control, ABS, ASR, EDL and Brake Assist. But no AEB.
If all that isn’t enough to keep you out of trouble there are airbags aplenty; specifically, six in the Coupe (dual front, side and curtain), and four on the Roadster (dual front and side). Given the obvious inability to equip the Roadster with curtain bags, its side airbags are shaped to inflate higher, to better protect the head and thorax.
The TT RS also features an active bonnet to minimise injury in a pedestrian collision, but despite ISOFIX child restraint location points in each rear seat position, “inadequate child protection” and that lack of AEB, caused ANCAP to rate the TT coupe four from a possible five stars in 2015 testing.
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 offers a three year/unlimited km warranty, with three years paint protection and a 12 year rust perforation warranty also included.
Service is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first, but Audi’s ‘Genuine Care’ fixed price service program isn’t available on RS models.