Ferrari Portofino VS BMW 6 Series
- Comfort and composure
- Epic engine
- Gorgeous design
- Hefty cost
- Doesn't sound terrific all the time
- Cramped rear seats
BMW 6 Series
- Heaps of space
- Feels plush
- Good standard equipment
- Feels big on the road
- A bit of a weird car, really
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|
BMW 6 Series
What happens when you struggle to sell an odd-bod, not-quite-a-coupe, sort-of-a-hatchback, almost-an-SUV model? Well, sometimes it gets axed, and replaced with a new model that bears a new name.
That's pretty much it in a nutshell for the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo, which was formerly the 5 Series GT. It essentially takes the place of the 6 Series Gran Coupe - an alternative to the regular 5 Series sedan that's more attainable than a 7 Series limousine.
Confused? It's not as difficult as all that sounds - you just need to know that this model, the 2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo, is supposed to offer a neat alternative to the go-to family luxury car or SUV.
I spent some time in the entry-level 630i to see if it can deliver on that promise. In fact, I spent more than 24 hours driving the BMW 6 Series GT over the past week, and I don't have a sore back, I haven't been left scratching my head over the intended purpose, I haven't been uncomfortable, and I haven't been left wanting for much.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular 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.
BMW 6 Series7.6/10
This isn't a car for everyone's tastes, but if you fit in to the buyer group that just doesn't really know what they want in a luxury car, it could be the perfect fit for your family. The 6 Series GT is a practical large prestige car, albeit one that will likely find very few buyers.
Would you consider a genre-bending car like the BMW 6 Series GT? Let us know in the comments section 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…
BMW 6 Series7/10
There is no denying the 6 Series GT looks better than the old 5 Series GT. It isn't as frumpy, it looks more sporty, and to me it appears to have grown into its identity with more conviction than its predecessor.
That said, I don't necessarily like the look very much - it's a bit like a BMW X6 that has been rounded off a little and lowered down substantially. But I can appreciate some of the finer design aesthetics that it offers up: the frameless windows are a nice touch, and the swooping roofline looks smoother than a duck's back.
Other things like the active grille shutters and the air breathers ahead of the front doors are nice functional touches, and to my eye it lives up to BMW's hope of it looking "smooth but muscular". You can get the 630i with either the M Sport package, like you see here, or the more sedate Luxury Line, which is, well, more luxurious looking.
The M Sport styling and equipment package you see in the images here - with M aero kit and 19-inch wheels (ours had been upgraded to optional 20s) - help out with the athletic look of this very big vehicle.
It's huge in fact. The length of the 630i is 5091mm long, it measures 1902mm wide and sits at 1538mm tall, with a lengthy 3070mm wheelbase.
All that equates to a lot of room in the cabin, and what a sumptuous and delightful place it is to be - leather, wood and plush finishes abound.
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.
BMW 6 Series9/10
Now, I said before that this is a bit like an X6, but it has heaps better interior space than that SUV.
As soon as you slide into the driver's seat, you feel like your inside a large car. The cabin space is plentiful, and there's an abundance of storage on offer, too: there's a split-lid armrest between the seats, a pair of cupholders, a phone storage nook with wireless charging, and big door pockets with bottle holsters.
In the back you have access to door pockets, a flip-down armrest with cupholders (that middle part of the seat can fold down completely to allow storage of longer items), and there's excellent room on offer. How many seats in the BMW 6 Series GT? Five - like, five full-size seats.
Because the roofline doesn't rake as sharply as a four-door 'coupe', headroom is excellent for adults (even of the 183cm variety, like myself), and legroom and toe room are equally very good. This is bigger in the back than a 5 Series, but maybe not as plush as a 7 Series… so I guess it makes sense numerically for its nomenclature.
Of course you get climate control in the front (and in the rear if you option it), and the materials are excellent. The media screen is tablet-style, proudly displaying 10.25 inches of high-def real estate that is both touch-capacitive and controllable by way of the central rotary controller with touchpad. And get this - you can even use gestures to control certain elements like volume, swiping and changing tracks… but you have to option that.
The fully digital instrument display is bordered by a set of incomplete dial rings, which is just odd. BMW, back yourself - your buyers can handle just having a digital screen in front of them, particularly when it's as good as this one.
This grandiose hatchback's boot is commodious - with the back seats in place it has a huge 610 litres of cargo capacity, which extends to 1800L with the 40/20/40 seats folded down using the quick release levers in the boot area.
There is no spare wheel (the BMW range is fitted with run-flat tyres) but it does have a secondary hidden storage area under the boot floor for hiding items or stowing wet gear, bathers/swimmers or muddy clothes.
For context, the X6 has 580L seats up, 1525L seats down.
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).
BMW 6 Series6/10
The BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo range starts off with the model tested here, the 630i. It has a list price of $123,500 before on-road costs - and that's whether you buy the M Sport Line or the Luxury Line.
That's quite a lot of money. And while it has a lot of equipment to help justify the cost, the smarter dollars will probably find their way to a more affordable 5 Series.
Standard gear in this spec includes adaptive air suspension with multiple drive modes, a colour head-up display, semi-autonomous parking, adaptive cruise control with steering assistance, auto high-beam LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, DAB+ digital radio, a 16-speaker harman/kardon sound system, a 12.3-inch driver information screen and a 10.25-inch media display with sat nav, Bluetooth and 'BMW ConnectedDrive' online services.
Hey, you even get a panoramic sunroof as standard! Plus there are things like an active rear spoiler, two USB ports and four 12-volt outlets, leather trim, heated front electric seats, electric steering wheel adjustment, keyless entry, push-button start, and an automatic boot.
It also comes loaded with active safety assistance functions - we'll get to that in the safety section below.
Things it's missing at this price point? Well, heated seats are an option, but bundled nicely into the 'Comfort Package' ($3000) which was fitted to our car. The pack includes heated seats front and rear, quad-zone climate control, electric sunblinds for the rear side windows, and electric seat back adjustment. Oh, and BMW continues to gouge consumers $623 for Apple CarPlay (which seemingly didn't work in our car).
The only other 6 Series GT model available is the 640i xDrive, which is again available with the choice of M Sport or Luxury body styling. It's also pretty exxy, with a list price of $148,900, but gets a more performance-focused drivetrain, as well as extra equipment: essentially the Comfort package, plus vented front seats, interior fragrance (eight options), memory settings for the front seats, 20-inch wheels and metallic paint.
Plus the 640i has Sport+ settings - it's probably the wrong car for those - and 'Integral Active Steering' to couple with the all-wheel drive system.
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.
BMW 6 Series8/10
Under the bonnet of the 630i is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 190kW of power (at 6500rpm) and 400Nm of torque (from 1550-4400rpm). It uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, and is rear-wheel drive.
That may not seem a lot considering the size of this machine, but consider that some of the steamiest four-cylinder hot hatches have nearly the same outputs, and you realise this engine offers up a far-from slouched approach to propulsion.
The 640i xDrive has a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine with 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque. It gets the same eight-speed auto, but as the xDrive naming indicates, it's all-wheel drive.
But this is the one you'd prefer if you want to hit highway speed in a hurry - the 0-100km/h claim is 5.3 seconds, where the 630i takes a full second longer (6.3sec) according to the company.
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.
BMW 6 Series7/10
BMW claims fuel use of 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres, and you'll need to use 95RON premium unleaded when you fill up.
On my trip with the car, I saw about 9.0L/100km across mostly high-speed driving - some freeway, some highway, some country back road touring, and quite a bit of corners and city stuff thrown in as well. I think that's pretty respectable.
What wasn't so great was the lack of premium fuel in some of the 'away from civilisation' places on my route home. Keep that in mind if planning your own GT long-distance cruise.
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.
BMW 6 Series7/10
But if you're in BMW's target market - that being older executive buyers who want space and luxury as a priority over thrills at the wheel, you could do a lot worse.
That's because the 6 Series GT lopes along the highway without fuss - the engine easily coping with the demands of overtaking moves, the adjustable drive modes allowing a light steering and wafting suspension feel to wile away the kilometres.
There are 'Comfort' and 'Comfort Plus' modes, but the latter is a bit too spongy and can be boaty feeling. The Comfort setting is made for the highway.
If you decide to deviate from the straight sections, you'll be able to explore a little bit of dynamic range, especially when you dial up the 'Sport' mode, which changes the damper settings, steering weight, throttle and transmission response, and even the digital dials in front of the driver to a more aggressive look.
Our car had the 'Integral Active Steering' setting, which is a variable ratio steering system that includes rear steering - that essentially helps make is more turnable in corners at highway speed, and easier to park at lower speeds. It's difficult to say whether the assistance is excellent or not short of driving a car without the tech, but to this tester it was hard to hide the size and weight (1835kg kerb weight) of the vehicle.
That isn't to say it's clumsy or lumbering - it is actually pretty agile for its dimensions, though it makes a lot more sense on long drives and coastal cruises than it does in the narrow and twisty alpine roads of the Snowy Mountains Highway that I tested it on.
There's good grip from the tyres, and strong response from the powertrain - but if it were my money, and I had to have a 6 Series for whatever reason, I'd be looking towards the 640i model, which has a thumping six-cylinder with 250kW/450Nm - certainly an engine that would be more at home in this car. Plus that model comes with AWD.
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.
BMW 6 Series9/10
The BMW 6 Series GT range has a five-star Euro NCAP crash test score based on 2017 testing, but it hasn't been scored by ANCAP.
There's the usual array of airbags - dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver's knee airbags are included, plus parking sensors all around, and heaps of safety tech including the 'Driving Assistant Plus' package with lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking (AEB) front and rear, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go.
That's all great stuff, and so is the 360-degree camera system with adaptive display - so, if you're reversing and you turn the wheel to one side, the image on screen will move, too. It'll also go between a birds-eye view and a backing-up perspective, and that can take some getting used to.
What was less convincing in terms of the user experience was the rear auto braking, which seemed to be scared of the car's own shadow. On multiple occasions the car jammed on the brakes when reversing out of driveways on to empty streets - be it in the normal height, or the raised height setting.
The 6 Series GT has dual ISOFIX anchor points and three top-tether points are there and ready for baby seats or child seats.
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.
BMW 6 Series8/10
BMW runs a condition-based servicing plan, which means the car will tell you when it needs servicing. But you can rest assured it won't (theoretically) cost you much, with the brand's 'Service Inclusive' pack. It covers you for basic maintenance as and when required for five years/80,000km. According to BMW, that includes "annual vehicle checks, oil changes, all filters, spark plugs and labour costs for the duration of the package".
BMW offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, and you get the same cover for roadside assistance.