The California is Ferrari’s softest car, but the gentle roadster has been given a highly significant kick up the chuff courtesy an all-new twin-turbo V8 that delivers 552bhp and 557lb ft. This new engine suits the car’s easy-driving character, as well as letting you go longer before stopping for fuel.
New exterior panels shed the awkwardness of the former shape. Other innovations include slightly firmer springs for better handling, with re-tuned adaptive dampers for a better ride. If that’s not your bag, spec the £5,568 Handling Speciale pack with even stiffer springs, a nosier exhaust and new gearbox software. However underneath, the California is the same all-aluminium folding hard-top 2+2 as before.
Getting up to speed
Ferrari’s transition back into the realm of turbocharging wasn’t a decision made lightly, and the alteration wasn’t performed sheerly in the pursuit of increased output. As international emissions and fuel economy regulations become stricter, performance brands are among those most affected, and Ferrari is no more immune to those regulations than anyone else is.
For better or worse, this change in engine configuration has a fairly substantial impact on not only the California’s power delivery, but its overall personality as well. Yet there’s no denying that the move served its purpose: Along with the performance improvements, the California T also boasts a 15-percent drop in emissions and a substantial improvement in fuel economy as well.
The 250g/km CO2 figure speaks of better consumption when you’re going gently; official Ferrari figures state 26.9mpg, almost unheard of from Maranello. Ferrari owners will notice not the money saved but tank range increased. Insurance and tyres and so-on will be punishing. But new Ferraris get seven years of maintenance included in the price (and a four-year warranty). As it is the most attainable Ferrari on sale, this extended package may well come as a pleasant surprise, even for those stepping from established premium makes such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Welcome to the Ferrari family.
Out on the road
One of the main reasons I’d hesitate to classify the California T as a supercar can be found just driving around town. City driving in a supercar can be a stressful proposition: Supercar attributes like a low front splitter threaten to scrape the pavement at the mere suggestion of uneven ground, and a stiffly tuned suspension is always ready to abuse your nerves over pockmarked urban streets. Neither of these is an issue when driving this Ferrari.
As a hardtop convertible, the California T's cabin merges the best of the roadster and coupe worlds, with a well-built, sturdy feel to the interior that hasn't always been typical of Ferrari. Passenger room is good up front, but the plus-two rear seats are best reserved for children or extra gear. There's a new seat design with more bolstering, and while we'll say the trunk is useful for a carefully packed weekend away, it's hardly spacious. The folding hardtop operates smoothly and quickly, opening and closing in about 15 seconds.
Of course the California T, can be custom tailored to an owner's every wish, with special colors, trims and accessories. You won't end up with the same car as anyone else.
Standard features on the California T include navigation, USB connections, and even something you might not expect from a Ferrari sports car: cupholders. There's some modern tech here, too; Apple CarPlay has arrived, and a new digital gauge system, called Turbo Performance Engineer is located between the two central air vents.
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