Why Ferrari will always be the ultimate luxury car brand

What do you get when you put a man behind the wheel of a brand new, 3.9-litre twin turbo V8 Ferrari Portofino Grand Tourer, in horrendous driving conditions?

Complete and utter control.

Taking the behemoth that is the Ferrari Portofino out for its Melbourne media debut, we ventured to the picturesque Mornington Peninsula on a less-than picturesque rainy day.

Despite the weather gods throwing all they could at the prancing horse, the Portofino was undeterred, thanks to the highest level of Italian craftsmanship the Ferrari brand is synonymous for.

At a glance

Breathtaking from the inside and out, the Portofino is designed to be driven daily, effortlessly converting from an authentic 'berlinetta' coupé to a sporty convertible thanks to its retractable roof (which can be put up or down up to 40 km's) - the Portofino truly embodies the pinnacle of Italian excellence.

Priced at an entry-level $398,888 (plus on-road costs), the Portofino is enticing a brand new Ferrari customer; one that may have been accustomed to other luxury brands such as Mercedes AMG and Porsche.

But with all the hype around the new Italian make, owners-to-be will have to wait up until mid 2020 to take home their newly prized possession; a small price to pay for an enduring champion.

The ultimate dream car

It's this high demand that emphasises the significance of the Portofino; perhaps Ferrari's most important model in quite some time.

"The Portofino has been extremely important for Ferrari. As an entry-level GT, it's the perfect all-round Ferrari to introduce a new clientele to the brand," says Herbert Appleroth, CEO of Ferrari Australasia.

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"We expect this stunning new Ferrari V8 Grand Tourer to become the dream car for clients and fans around the country, introducing a new customer, with the hopes to move them onto a typical sports car, like the 488, in the future."

Notably, Ferrari retain 90-95 per cent of their customers, who eventually look to upgrade to something more typically 'Ferrari' – the notion of the ultimate dream car.

From Portofino to Portsea

Picking up the Portofino from Albert Park - Melbourne's home to the Australian Grand Prix - the Portofino took a leisurely route alongside beachside suburbs such as Brighton and Seaford before reaching the Mornington Peninsula.

It wasn't until the convoy reached Arthur's Seat Road that the Portofino was able to be fully tested amid the twists and turns Red Hill and its surrounding areas is renowned for.

After a pit stop here and there, it was onwards to Portsea; one of Victoria's wealthiest postcodes, and home to many a Ferrari owner.

"Portsea is naturally a second home of Ferrari ownership in Australia," says Appleroth.

"You'll find many Ferrari models in the garages of Portsea holiday homes. You will see them zipping from cafe to restaurant during the summer, so it was only fitting that our Portofino launch would include a stop in iconic Portsea."

How it handled

Don't let the Portofino's sleek silhouette and elegantly sculpted athleticism fool you; it's handling abilities are not only exceptional, but the Portofino makes for an extremely comfortable ride – a factor that is usually compromised in similar model types.

With room enough for both passengers  - the addition of two extra seats in the back may prove slightly uncomfortable - driving from A to B, no matter the time spent in the vehicle, is a pleasurable one at that.

When bumpy roads appeared along our journey, a push of a button completely subsides discomfort.

It's this notion of using your car and its technologies in an everyday setting that makes the Portofino so desirable.

But please don't mistake this model for simply its pretty looks. The Portofino is capable of reaching 0-100km/h in just 3.5 seconds, making it one of the most powerful V8 convertibles on the market - combined, of course, with the aforementioned retractable roof, spacious boot and generous cockpit setup.

An envious members club

Owning a Ferrari has always been the ultimate sign of wealth and exclusivity, and for good reasons. Owners are invited to VIP-only events, with a total of 150 or so exclusive events held each year.

These events entail club get-togethers, lifestyle drive days, and track-day experiences, where owners are taught to fully utilise and experience their car's technology and performance, in a safe environment led by leading industry experts.

And do Ferrari look to manufacture more aspirational, affordable models in the future, similar to its Portofino model?

"Not at all. Ferrari will always remain the ultimate luxury brand," adds Appleroth.

"It has always been about the dream factory and that's never going to change."