California is where trends start and the new Ferrari California offers
some new trends. It’s Ferrari’s first front engine V8, the first with direct
fuel injection, the first with a seven-speed transmission, the first with real
launch control, the first with a retractable hardtop, and the first with a
stacked exhaust. Regardless of these new additions, the California has
the goods - a real Ferrari it is indeed! See the Slideshow of this excellent
Past Ferraris have had front engine V6s and V12s but with its 4.3-liter
8-cylinder, Ferrari has made this entry level a great sports car. It shares the
same engine with the F430, however, it is heavier than the F430. Therefore,
the horsepower was dropped a bit to 457 hp but torque was upped to 357 ft- lbs.
The Getrag dual-clutch seven speed gearbox is marvelous in that it provides
continuous acceleration and it allows a great sounding power note between
So what will the California do with its seven-speed transmission and
a heavy breathing Ferrari engine? It does 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and the
quarter mile in 11.9 second at 117.4 mph. The top speed is 193 mph.
Ferrari chose not to go with a ragtop but rather a retractable hardtop.
Even with the top down, the body structure is rigid as is Ferrari customary.
Another feature about the top is that it will not raise or lower if something
like a garage door opening does not provide the necessary clearance.
The California is equipped with ceramic brakes, however, Ferrari has
adjusted the brake system so that the brakes are not overly aggressive
and annoying for road driving. The brakes are compliant and easy to
use and provide stops from 60 mph in only 100 feet.
The first official photographs have been published of the Ferrari California, the latest addition to the new generation of Ferraris launched in 2004 with the 612 Scaglietti and added to more recently with the 430 Scuderia.
The Ferrari California joins the Prancing Horse's 8-cylinder family which has always been defined by power and performance. It also flanks the flagship 612 Scaglietti in the prestige sporty Grand Tourer segment.
The new Ferrari California will satisfy even the most demanding of owners in term of its superb vehicle dynamics and driving pleasure. The new model will be available exclusively as a convertible with a folding hard top. Both chassis and bodywork are aluminium, in line with the rest of the current range. The California will be powered by a new V8 engine mounted for the first time in the marque's history in the mid-front position.
In line with Ferrari tradition, the new model also features several innovations. Apart from its folding hard top, these include the original 2+ concept which guarantees exceptional versatility of use in the rear of the car. The California's 4,300 cc V8 engine features direct fuel injection and a "flat" crankshaft. It generates 460 CV at 7,500 rpm with a torque curve that enhances vehicle dynamics and provides maximum driving pleasure which is typical for Ferrari.
As per the traditional Ferrari transaxle layout, the engine, which allows the Ferrari California to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 4.0 seconds, will be coupled to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission that boosts the car's performance while enhancing the driving pleasure, improves ride comfort and reduces fuel consumption and emissions (c.310 g/km CO2). The comfort is further enhanced by a new multilink rear suspension system. The Ferrari California is also equipped with the exclusive F1-Trac traction control system which made its debut on the 599 GTB Fiorano and has been further honed to suit the typical driving conditions expected for this new GT. Brembo brakes featuring carbon-ceramic material disks as standard guarantee superbly efficient braking.
In addition to sporting the marque's classic styling cues, the cabin has also been beautifully trimmed using quality materials by Ferrari's own skilled artisans. New accessories and equipment, such as the seats, steering wheel, instrument panel and infotainment system, together with optimised aerodynamics ensure that this is a highly ergonomic and enjoyable car to drive regardless of whether the top is up or down.
The Ferrari California is aimed at owners who desire a car which embodies everything the Prancing Horse represents in terms of sporty design and innovation, but also seek a car with greater versatility than ever. The car will be officially unveiled to the public at the Paris International Car Show. However, over the coming weeks, new photographs and further details about it will also be published.
2010 Ferrari California
The California is a bit like my first girlfriend: pretty from the front, but a little frumpy at the rear, especially in the wrong clothes (sorry Sarah). This is Ferrari’s softer side. Huh? How can you mess with the classic GT recipe? Sorry Ferrari but the California is the best definition of Ugly Betty with four wheels. If you were hoping for a Dino successor, then you’ll be disappointed. This is a fresh GT with a new clientele in mind.
Hoping for a warm welcome party, my blue press car just didn’t look right under the brilliant Sicilian sunshine– even though I skipped the offer of a blood-red California, which I thought would dispel the miss-matched lines and kindergarten crayon-like sketches. Like the 612 Scaglietti, the latest front-engined Ferrari has no Maranello designer-DNA-flair whatsoever. Sure, the front is OK, but the rear looks like a F430 that’s been backed into a brick wall. And then we have the Lexus cosmetic card trick: fake exhaust tail pipes. The horrendous back door abomination was designed to incorporate the folding metal roof. With every supercar manufacturer fitting an origami roof to just about anything that moves, the boys in Italy wanted to target more conservative customers (namely female, but you didn’t hear me say that).
The buggy seats behind the front chairs are useless for any human larger than Verne Troyer. And? They are perfectly suitable for those owners who wish to fold them to accommodate your tailored Ferrari luggage or McLaren golf bags. While it’s all very Ferrari inside, there are two small issues that need addressing. First, the heater control pane is ridiculously small. I know owners live in salubrious climates, but really. Second, the aluminium covered centre console looks like a particularly uncomfortable sex toy. The sexy, red Start button and Manettino switch (Ferrari’s traction and stability control), return us to the world of more traditional sexual orientation. Both controls must tweaked and caressed like a lover’s nipple to get the desired effect. Ahem. Moving on…
Facing killjoy CO2 regs, Ferrari had to clean up their act. To satisfy the politicians, Maranello has introduced direct-injection technology to their famous V8. Although positioned over the front axle, the new 4.3-litre flat-plane-crank V8 knocks-out 454bhp and 357 lb feet of gut-busting torque. The Calfornia drop top nails the zero to 62mph sprint in around four seconds and cracks 194mph V-max. Not bad for a car that’s carrying 1735 kg’s.
Whether you’re nailing your favourite back road or performing a brief overtaking manoeuvre whilst kicking back on the boulevard, the California V8 delivers the same sorts of aural delights enjoyed by F430 drivers. Ferrari’s dialed down the bass and treble, but with the roof stowed, hunting the red-line is equally tempting. The new seven speed twin-clutch transmission swaps gears quicker than the F430 Scuderia, which is like saying an F-22 is a bit quicker than an F-15. Porsche’s PDK may have set the benchmark, but they forgot about Ferrari’s F1 technology. This is Transformers for grown-ups.
The Manettino switch on the steering wheel offers a choice of Comfort, Sport or CST-off mode. Comfort is the default choice with relatively low intervention thresholds; the Sport setting raises the bar and allows for a good degree of tail swapping and tire mashing. The CST mode turns off all of the driving aids and reveals the California’s hidden side: beautiful balance on the limit behaviour.
This is where the buttons ping off your shirt and you start to turn green. The combination of engine, handling and hidden Ferrari DNA bursts out more alarmingly than the alien in John Hurt’s chest. The steering is quick but grip levels are less communicative through the steering wheel. Where the California really shines: its ride. With the optional $6k magnetic dampers, the Fezza delivers sensational body control and accuracy, without destroying ride comfort.
So, where does the new California fit within the Ferrari canon/cannon? At a not inconsiderable $244k, it’s got to fend off a raft of competition, including Lamborghini’s cheaper Gallardo Spyder ($224K). Why have Ugly Betty when you can choose Beyonce Knowles? Because it’s a Ferrari. A Ferrari convertible. And even though it’s a kindler gentler example of the breed, that’s enough.
[Ferrari provided the vehicle, insurance, and fuel]