2013 Ferrari California

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
October 23, 2012

Buying tip

If you love the California but wish it had a little sharper edge, consider adding the Handling Speciale package, which firms up the suspension, sharpening the car's reflexes.

features & specs

2-Door Conv
13 city / 19 hwy

The 2013 Ferrari California is a fun and stylish--and surprisingly practical--entry into Ferrari ownership.

While it's certainly not the most drop-dead gorgeous design Ferrari has ever built, the California is unique in the lineup, and it's perhaps the most practical car in the Ferrari fleet--short of the much more expensive FF, of course.

In terms of styling, the California is actually the oldest of the company's current offerings. That means it doesn't share in the same up-swept, narrow headlights, or the wide, full-front air dam/grille seen on the 458 Italia, FF, and F12berlinetta. But the 2013 Ferrari California bears its own styling traits well--swoopy lines suggest classic roadster proportions, while modern touches like sculpted side and door panels, multi-LED lighting, and the slick folding hardtop roof put firmly in the current era.

Inside, the California offers a handful of standout details, including an offset F1 badge in the dash and a graceful aluminum arch spanning the center console, and swathes of fine leather wrap the cabin and its firm but comfortable front seats. The overall look and feel is of quality, carefully selected materials and well-constructed parts--historically, not a typical Ferrari trait. There's even a fair bit of space in the trunk and in the cabin for a weekend's odds and ends, or even, in 2+2 form, a pair of children.

Review continues below

Under the hood, however, lies the beating heart of a true Ferrari: a V-8 engine rated at 490 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque, a 30-horsepower and 26 pound-foot rise for 2013. With a curb weight of 3,825 pounds (66 pounds lighter than before, explaining the "30" appended to the California's name this year), the 2013 California gets to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 193 mph.

As for handling, the last time we drove one, we noted the California's willingness to run up to about 9/10ths--but no more. Braking is great, power delivery is effortless, and the suspension is well-managed--but it's not a track-ready setup, and it's not shy about it, because it's not intended to be. A new Handling Speciale package can help minimize body roll further and sharpen up its reflexes for those that want to live closer to the edge.

As for features, Ferrari's various personalization programs let you equip any of its cars, including the California, with just about anything you could imagine--budget providing. Standard gear includes a navigation system, USB connectivity, and, yes, even cupholders. New for 2013 is a collection of triple-layer colors, in addition to the almost 5,000 combinations of exterior and interior finish previously available.

The folding hardtop (which opens or closes in just 15 seconds) is complemented by pop-up rollover protection for greater safety, and a rear backup camera is available.

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