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The next-generation hardtop improves on its predecessor with added performance and an all-new transmission.

Ferrari has unveiled a new GT model in the 2021 Portofino M, a so-called “evolution” of the Italian marque’s existing entry-level, hardtop convertible, the Portofino.

Set to commence European deliveries in the second quarter of 2021, the Portofino M will land in left-hand drive markets first, where pricing will kick off from 206,000 euros, or roughly AU$333,498.

The ‘M’ in the model’s name stands for ‘Modificata’ or ‘modified’, a designation used by Ferrari to highlight cars that have received an injection of technological innovation.

As such, the new-generation model builds on the performance and design credentials of its predecessor, which was first unveiled as a successor to the Ferrari California T in 2017.

The Portofino M pairs a 3.9-litre, twin-turbo V8 with a completely new eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission that is 20 per cent smaller than the previous seven-speed version previously used on the Portofino.

Ferrari says fans should expect to see this new eight-speed gearbox rolled out across future models thanks to its capacity for faster shifting times, improved comfort and compact size.

At its peak, the engine can generate up to 456kW, marking an improvement on the previous iteration’s peak output of 441kW. Peak torque remains unchanged at 760Nm.

However, this doesn’t mark a dramatic improvement on the 0-100km/h sprint, with the Portofino M’s 3.45 seconds only wiping 0.05 seconds off it predecessor’s record.

Similarly, the top speed remains the same at 320km/h.

Performance stats improve when you consider the 0-200km/h sprint time, which is 9.8 seconds in the Portofino M, compared with 10.8 seconds in the Portofino.

The new-generation spider also adds a five-position Manettino dial allowing drivers greater configuration of the driving experience – adding race and wet modes to the previous version’s three-position dial.

Another major change comes via the addition of a gasoline particulate filter to the exhaust system, in order to meet strict new European emissions standards.

Ferrari says this particulate filter had the potential to reduce the sound of the engine, but counter measures were taken to ensure the exhaust note is at the same level, if not louder, than the preceding Portofino.

Design-wise, the Portofino M endeavours to stay faithful to the original, adding more aggressive air intakes to the front of the car, a more streamlined, compact rear with new exhaust system and a completely redesigned rear diffuser, able to be specified in carbon-fibre.

“It’s almost a combination of a coupe and a spider – we wanted to perfectly integrate the roof into a continued line reminiscent of a fastback car,” explained chief design officer Flavio Manzoni.

The hardtop roof is a carryover from the previous Portofino, able to be opened and closed in 15 seconds and capable of being opened while driving up to speeds of 40km/h.

Ferrari had practicality front of mind when designing the updated four-seater, with 292 litres of cargo space in the luggage compartment, or enough to “fit a golf bag”, according to Product Marketing representative, Marco Bai.

In fact, the Italian marque hopes the model will attract a new kind of buyer, envisaging its latest release appealing to “young families”.

“[The target demographic is] people that love driving cars with the top off, who want something sophisticated from a technical and performance perspective, but without compromising on the comfort on board,” Enrico Galliera, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, told media.

“They’re young families – people 35-45 years old who have children that can fit in the Portofino.”

Inside, a multi-level dashboard houses a 10.25-inch touchscreen, but with the same infotainment system as its predecessor. The passenger also receives a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen.

Advanced driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and traffic sign recognition can be added as optional extras.

The Portofino M marks the seventh launch in Ferrari’s five-year plan to unveil 15 new models by 2022.

Despite production delays due to the global pandemic, Galliera said the plan is still on track.

“At this moment we are sitting on seven launches so far and they will become very soon eight,” Galliera said.

“We are planning another launch before the end of the year and the remainder will be launched in the next two years.”

The Ferrari Portofino M joins the Ferrari Roma unveiled earlier late in 2019, which is set to be priced from $409,888 plus on-road costs when it arrives in Australia.