£156,120 Price range
The first generation Ferrari California came in for quite some criticism from testers. Although not a bad car per se, the gawky styling and below-par handling meant that many felt it was by far the weakest model in Ferrari’s range.
To Ferrari’s credit, they have listened to those criticisms, and have addressed pretty much all of them in its replacement, the California T. Faster, keener-handling and smarter looking, reviewers agree that the latest model is a vast improvement in almost every way, and it now states a serious case for itself against the likes of the Bentley Continental GTC and Aston Martin DB9 Volante.
It’s unsurprising to see that the interior of the California T receives overwhelmingly positive reviews – the interior of a Ferrari should feel special, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s driver focused, luxurious and very obviously Italian all at the same time. Even the sat-nav – heavily criticised in the old model – has been updated to operate with a more friendly (if still not perfect) user-interface.
The feature here that is unique to this Ferrari, though, is the metal folding roof. The only exterior panel that didn’t receive an overhaul in the facelift, the roof folds away into the boot in just 14 seconds to allow a little open-top cruising. In the French Riviera, ideally.
Any faults? Well, negative feedback is hard to come by, but one tester says that some interior plastics don’t feel nice enough, and goes on to suggest that perhaps this is a ploy to make customers fork out an extra £5,568 for some carbon-fibre trim…
The old California received negative comments regarding its slightly stodgy handling, but thanks to stiffer springs and updated dampers, these concerns have been addressed. The T now has properly resolved suspension, which allows the driver to feel confident when pushing on along twisting UK roads. Granted, it still isn’t as agile as a 458, but it isn’t meant to be.
Testers really like the ride quality; pretty much everybody says that regardless of how the adjustable dampers are set, the California is very comfortable. Some say that the steering feels very sensitive, but that you’ll get used to it fairly quickly.
The last time Ferrari used turbo-charging in one of their road cars, it was in the spectacular F40 hypercar back in 1987. Showing how the times have moved on, this front-engined GT car matches the 80s icon in straight line speed. Indeed, it take three tenths less to reach 60mph (3.6 seconds) while a top speed of 196mph is only 4mph shy from the F40’s.
The 3.9 litre twin-turbo engine in the California T develops 553hp and up to 557lb-ft of torque, and Ferrari have tried to make it behave as much like a non-turbo unit as possible. Testers agree they have succeeded, describing the engine as having “no discernable turbo lag”. It is more efficient than the normally aspirated V8 in the old California too, with CO2 emissions dropping by nearly a sixth to 250g/km.
The only minor downside to the turbo unit is that some testers say it isn’t quite as charismatic as non-turbo Ferraris. It’s all relative though. After all, this is still a Ferrari V8 that revs to nearly 8,000rpm.
Many would consider it a little vulgar to talk about the price of your Ferrari, but for those who don’t, the California starts from £155,000. That makes it more expensive than an Aston Martin DB9 Volante by about £11,500, and very similar to the Bentley Continental GTC.
At this price bracket, though, it is pretty unlikely that someone would choose one of these cars over their rivals because it’s a little cheaper…
While the California T has been described as facelift in some circles, it makes a case for itself to be described as an-all new car, such is the vast improvement it is over the previous model.
It now has both the style and the substance to compete with the very best cars in the class.