Ferrari revives the name California, which was used in the late 50’s for the Ferrari 250 GT, but in doing so; the California also marks a few firsts for Ferrari. It’s the first front-engined Ferrari with a V8, the first to feature a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, the first with a folding roof, the first with multi link rear suspension and the first to feature direct fuel injection. This says a lot on Ferrari’s faith and confidence on the California which was introduced back in 2008. It commands the lowest entry ticket to Maranello’s finest, but that has definitely not diluted any of its passion nor that of its emotions.
2013 Ferrari California Review
Ferrari spends a lot of time in creating a replacement car, even more so when they create a new segment. Their vehicles, when introduced, have always raised the level of performance and innovation, which takes other manufacturers years to catch up to. But they don’t rest their laurels, nor do their engineering team go for an extended vacation. They are always burning the midnight oil in a quest to push the technologies and performance beyond the reach of their competition.
As a result the 2013 Ferrari California we tested came with weight savings of 30 kgs and a bump in horsepower by 30 to 490hp from its direct fuel injected V8. To put this into perspective, the previous California was able to match the Ferrari F430 in a 0-60mph drag race (both did it at 3.9 secs), thanks to its dual-clutch gearbox.
The first thing that struck us when we entered the cabin was the beautifully styled center beam. It’s a sculpture that can only be envisioned from Ferrari and houses the gear buttons, the folding roof controls and the window controls. There are no center gear levers to play with. What Ferrari offers is total hands on control. The action is all attached to the steering wheel and the huge pedal shifters. So much attention is paid on having the necessary controls near the hands that even the horn buttons are situated in the thumb rests. As you can imagine, years of racing experience have filtered into the design and functionality of the vehicle.
The interior is clean and lacks the myriads of buttons we see in most cars these days. The seats are wrapped in signature Ferrari tan hides and offer support without sacrificing comfort. One would almost swear that the steering wheel came directly out of Ferrari’s F1 vehicle, with its sculpted carbon fiber and leather grip. The Carbon fiber grip on top also features LED lights, which light up as the tachometer reaches closer to the redline, this is to signal an upcoming up-shift preferably done with the help of the carbon fiber paddle shifters.
Our tester also came with Daytona style leather seats; it looks retro but compliments the design sculpture of the interior. The headrests are embossed with the prancing horse logo and the sum of the interior theme is reminiscent of Italian aristocracy. It’s functional, pure and filled with emotion. We needed to catch our breaths in this. Sitting in the Ferrari and absorbing the sights is an experience in itself. The history associated in racing and films seems to overwhelm the senses. Wow, we have not even started the engine yet.
Switching the California on is a two-step process. First the key is inserted and turned; this does not fire up the engine, and then the “Start/Stop” button on the steering wheel is pressed. What follows is a petrol head’s dream come true. Not only is it a privilege to drive a Ferrari but the sound that comes from the double decker stacked exhausts as the engine wakes up is an aural sensory overload. Drive is engaged by pressing the paddle shifter and thus starts our romance with the California.
The drive that followed can best be described as Clark Kent/Superman persona. The California is a GT and that’s what we got. The ride is comfortable but not at all lofty, the gear-shifts were seamless and the steering surprisingly light. The torque from the V8 just pulled. This is what I love about GT’s, it’s the huge amount of available torque of the engine that does not require downshifting and hunt for power. And the California had them in bucket loads. This is a car that can eat miles while filling up our senses with the Ferrari soundtrack and the dizzying rise of the tachometer while the ceramic brakes anchors down and offers fade free feel when pushed hard.
It’s when the ECU switch is turned to “ESC OFF”, that separates the boys from men. Off in most cars is not necessarily off, there is a cushion of safety net ready to kick in when things starts to get slightly awry. Not in the case of the Ferrari, off means that you are on your own!! The California is tail happy when pushed hard into a tight corner and a quick correction to the steering wheel is needed to point the car beyond the apex. The steering is sharp and precise though it lacks a bit of feel, again we remind you that this is a GT and not a sports car.
The hard-top roof folds down in 14 seconds, and gives way for infinite headroom. Though this is a feature one would tend to enjoy a couple of months in Dubai, but just imagine, driving a Ferrari convertible around Burj Khalifa would sure to turn heads. When this feature was introduced by Ferrari, for the California, it must have been “prayers answered” for the die hard Ferrari fans. The California just became an instant bargain, a 2 in 1 with the practicality of have 2+2 seats. The rear seats however is not meant to seat adults, maybe really small infants.
Our weekend excursion on the California was a rather pleasant one. I got to experience the Ferrari culture and hear first hand the trademark Ferrari orchestra. Every signal light became an invitation for a drag race. Other drivers on the road became significantly more courteous and did not honk or flash at me. They did not even cut corners or brake suddenly in front of me. The Ferrari California does command a hefty price tag, but setting aside power and Ferrari’s deep rooted racing heritage, the California is a Ferrari at heart and it’s a Ferrari that one can live with on an everyday basis. It’s a supermodel who can wash and cook a 5 course meal (I am referring to both genders here).
The Ferrari California is a great platform to start ones journey through the lineage of Ferrari. It is a starting point that offers practicality and comfort, without overwhelming a first time buyer of the Ferrari brand. Rest assured the California has not lost any of Ferrari’s DNA,s a thoroughbred it truly is. The prancing horse looks proud as ever adorning the front fascia of the California.
|2013 Ferrari California|
|Displacement||4,297 cc, 90° V8 with direct fuel injection|
|Rated Output||483 hp @ 7750 rpm|
|Rated Torque||505 Nm @ 5000 rpm|
|Transmission||F1, dual-clutch 7 gears + reverse|
|Kerb Weight||1,735 kgs|
|Weight Distribution||47% front – 53% rear|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||78 litres|
|0-100 km/h||3.8 secs|
|Fuel Capacity||77 litres|
|Price (AED)||Starting from 778,000|
** Performance figures are based on 98RON petrol
Images by Brian Donegan :