New & Used Ferrari California: In Depth
2015 Ferrari California TEnlarge Photo
Ferrari’s California is a two-plus-two convertible sports car with a folding hardtop. Despite being Ferrari’s “entry-level” car, it’s exciting to drive, comfortable enough for daily use, and dramatically styled to boot. The California competes with the Maserati GranTurismo, Lamborghini Huracán, and Porsche 911 Cabriolet, among others.
For those familiar with Ferraris, the combination of comfort and speed might not be a surprise, but for those new to the brand, the California strikes a remarkable compromise between the company's race-bred heritage and the demands of comfortable daily driving.
When Ferrari's first folding-hardtop convertible went on sale back in 2008, it was powered by a 460-horsepower, 4.3-liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine. This marked several other firsts: the first Ferrari engine to use direct fuel injection, the first use of the company's dual-clutch transaxle, and the first use of a multi-link rear suspension in one of the brand's cars. While most of those items have carried over, the powertrain saw big changes for the 2015 model year.
The California carried forward from its 2008 arrival to 2012 largely unchanged. In the spring of 2012, Ferrari added the designation "30" to the California's name, indicating the 30 extra horsepower and 30 kilograms (66 pounds) lighter weight of the updated model. The weight savings came by way of more aluminum in the car's construction, while the extra power was enabled by revised exhaust manifolds and computer tuning. Ferrari also added an optional Handling Speciale package to the revised model, with a quicker steering rack and stiffer springs. The result was a more precise and powerful California that still retained the overall relaxed demeanor.
Inside the Ferrari California, you'll find two comfortable and relatively spacious front seats, plus two compact rear seats best reserved for extra luggage with only occasional use by smaller passengers. Materials throughout rise to typical Ferrari standards, and through Ferrari's highly personalized customization programs, can be made as opulent, sporty, or unique as you'd like. Exterior colors--and nearly any other feature of the car--can also be specially chosen through these programs.
An updated version called the Ferrari California T arrives for the 2015 model year. Heavily revised and restyled inside and out, the California T gets a brand-new engine--upgraded from a 4.3-liter V-8 to a new twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 with 552 horsepower and 556 pound-feet of torque. Power again is shipped to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Ferrari estimates 0–60-mph times of under 3.6 seconds, while top speed rises to 195 mph.
New springs and latest-generation Magnaride magnetorheological dampers (now more than 50 percent faster), combined with body-motion accelerometers, help reduce roll and pitch to deliver more precise handling while keeping the ride supple. The California T also boasts quicker steering courtesy of a new steering box and a modified suspension setup, while electronic systems such as the F1-Trac traction control and electronic stability have been upgraded to Ferrari’s latest spec.
A new infotainment system graces the California T's center stack. Its 6.5-inch touch screen controls audio and navigation functions and is also compatible with Apple's CarPlay system, which allows control of a pared-down set of iPhone apps through any of the stereo's buttons, the touch screen, or voice control.