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Ferrari California

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Ferrari California
7/10

Overall
verdict

Hardened car nuts will dismiss the California as the 458’s softer cousin. But now, it’s less soft.

Additional Info

  • It’s a busy-looking car in the metal - there’s a hell of a lot of designery stuff going on - but it grows on you
  • Top Gear wildcard

    Go a totally different direction with your £150k and you could waft around in the Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed. Or the GTC...

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What is it?

Stung by criticism that it wasn’t ‘manly’ enough, Ferrari has given its everyday car an injection of testosterone: more power, more ability, a more exotic mix of aluminium build materials that make it stiffer yet lighter. Ferrari’s first front-engined V8 car, it retains the folding hard top of the previous one, and aims to offer a more compelling and easier to use alternative to the mighty 458 Italia.

 

Driving

It’s a Ferrari for those who like the idea of owning a Prancing Horse-badged car but without the impracticalities that usually brings. As such, it’s a cinch to drive and, thanks to its uprated 483bhp 4.3-litre, it goes hard: the noise is, gloriously, much better for 2013 too. Pressing the wheel-mounted start button is always enjoyable, but the reality of the California’s softer edge is apparent in the fewer choices on the Manettino dial opposite it. Saying that, the new spring and damper settings mean it’s sharper, now handling beautifully across all roads. Ferrari has transformed how the Cali drives – and, at 194mph and 3.8secs to 60mph, made it even faster, too.

Just avoid the Handling Speciale pack. This brings even stiffer springs and dampers, plus faster steering, but it’s too much. It makes the Cali feel edgy and ill at ease. When the standard car is now so good, you really don’t need it - even if, at just over £4k, it’s surprisingly affordable.

 

On the inside

While the standard specification could hardly be called miserly, Ferrari owners generally like to customise their cars and Ferrari is only too happy to accommodate their needs. Hence you can swathe each surface with pretty much whatever leather or carbon-fibre finish you fancy.

It’s undeniably sporty inside – and very much a Ferrari – though we’re shocked at how unintuitive the on-board computer and sat nav systems are. In a car of this value those things should be state-of-the-art: pity they weren’t updated too. Still, the important items, such as the steering wheel, front seats and gearchange paddles are all nigh-on perfect in the Cali.

 

Owning

It used to go without saying that running a Ferrari would cost you an arm and a leg (insert your own Mafia joke here), but the firm now offers its Ferrari Genuine Maintenance programme, which covers all scheduled maintenance items for a period of seven years regardless of mileage. It’s comprehensive and well worth going for. Sadly it won’t cover your use of fuel, which may be quite prolific with a combined economy figure of 21.6mpg – not that you’ll get anywhere near that, despite direct injection and the availability of optional stop-start.

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Latest road tests

8/10 Ferrari California T
July 2014
8/10 Ferrari California driven
June 2012
8/10 Ferrari California Stop Start driven
November 2010

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