Maranello - Ferrari has taken the covers off its new drop-top beauty, the Portofino, ahead of its coming-out party at next month's Frankfurt International Motor Show.

Successor to the California T, the convertible four-seater GT is named after the tourist port in Italy, playground of the rich and famous. The launch colour of the new Ferrari has also been dedicated to this town: Rosso Portofino.

Brandishing an uprated version of the California T's 3.9-litre V8 turbo engine - the same one that took top honours in the International Engine of the Year awards for the last two years -  Ferrari's latest drop-top is capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h in just 3.5 seconds and onto a hair-ruffling maximum speed in excess of 320km/h, says Ferrari.

Or not hair-ruffling, if you choose to drive with the retractable hard top in place. 

The refettled power unit now boasts outputs of 441kW and 760Nm, increased from 412kW and 755Nm in the California T. This is thanks to the adoption of new components and specific calibration of the engine management software. The rorty V8 soundtrack has also been enhanced and can be fully appreciated with the top down.

Apart from its ability to dislodge poorly-attached wigs and toupes with its performance, the Portofino is a relatively practical sports car featuring a roomy boot and generous cockpit space for two - plus two tight rear seats for short trips.

To improve handling, the Portofino's new chassis is lighter and stiffer than the California's, and a third generation electronic rear differential (E-Diff3) has been adopted and integrated with the F1-Trac to improve mechanical grip. 

The Ferrari Portofino is also the first GT in Ferrari's range to be fitted with EPS (Electric Power Steering). This allowed Maranello's engineers to reduce the steering ratio by seven per cent for more responsive steering without a trade-off in stability. The magnetorheological damping system (SCM-E) has been uprated with dual-coil technology to improve ride quality while at the same time reducing body roll in the corners.

The Portofino is more aggressively-styled than the California with a two-box fastback configuration. The front gets full-LED headlights, and the headlights feature an innovative air intake which vents into the front wheelarch and exits along the flank to reduce drag. Placing the tail lights futher apart gives the car a more hunkered-down stance.  

Inside, the new Portofino gets the latest touchscreen infotainment system, and 18-way electrically adjustable seats with a new backrest design that boosts legroom for rear seat passengers. When the top is dropped, a new wind deflector reduces air flow inside the cabin by 30% and also reduces noise.

There's no word yet on when the car will be launched in South Africa, or pricing.