|Transmission||7 speed DCT|
|Engine||3855cc 90° V8 longitudinally mounted, with direct fuel injection|
|Power||560hp at 7500rpm|
|Torque||755Nm at 4750rpm|
|Tyres||Pirelli P-Zero. 245/40 front, 285/40 rear|
Out with the old
In 2014, the Ferrari California T replaced the California, a car that had opened the marque up to a different type of buyer; those who wanted a less highly strained, more comfortable supersports car. Its predecessor had delivered perhaps 7/10’s of the Ferrari experience in a more manageable package with a slightly less aggressive price point.
There were a number of issues many had with the original. Firstly, it was not particularly pretty, very colour dependent and the nose had a protruding awkwardness. The metal folding roof mechanism was elegant in its execution but it stowed into a rather bulbous rear adding not only physical but also visual weight to the rear of the car.
The engine, a 4.3l V8, whilst providing the car with quick outright performance, lacked in aural quality, whilst the cabin, if not liberally specified with the more expensive options at the time of build, felt a little underwhelming for a car of its price. Oh, and the multimedia system was appalling.
Before I move on to actually discussing the car here is, perhaps, a little-known fact. Whilst designing it, Ferrari had made an error in judgment as to the positioning of the brake lights. The car had, initially, been designed with two lights high up on the deck lid, either side of the integrated spoiler. These remained but, because the roof moves to stow the roof, this meant it was a ‘moveable piece of bodywork’ and so contravened Government regulation as to where the brake lights had to be. Accordingly, the marque had to find somewhere else to put another set of brake lights on a fixed piece of bodywork. The result was what we see in both the California and the California T; two separate rows of lights on the rear of the car and a slightly more cluttered aesthetic as a result.
In with the new
While the chassis of the car remained the same, all the panels were completely revised and it became a much prettier car as a result. The engineers also managed to lower the line of the boot considerably, despite the roof mechanism being carried over from the old car. It’s not a car that photographs particularly well but in person, it’s stunning and looks like a Ferrari should.
The multimedia interface brought in Apple CarPlay and, for the most part, works well. At least it works better than the previous generation’s.
Driving the California T
So what is it like to drive? If we set it against the benchmark of, say, the 488, then it’s a disappointment. But to do so would be to unfairly miss the objective of this car entirely. Its target market is not those who will use it for track days or, perhaps more likely, a race between the lights prior to leaning very hard on its impressive carbon ceramic Brembo brakes. This is a GT car and its credentials have to be analysed against that backdrop. When shifting your perception in this way, you realise it is really quite exceptional. Supremely comfortable over long distances, roof up or down (albeit the latter does limit boot space), the California T is a beguiling companion.
The interior is a beautiful place to sit and certainly makes you feel special. The dual clutch gearbox can be a little dim-witted when in auto mode and at slow speeds but, when pressing on, especially with the manettino in sport and changing gears manually, the shifts are lightning fast and make for effortless acceleration.
The steering is light and direct but lacks feedback. It feels a little like you are driving a videogame – confidence inspiring but, at the same time, I would like more interaction. On a more focussed supercar this would be a serious problem but in the California T, I think it only serves to reinforce its GT credentials.
So it looks as though, from California to California T, Ferrari fixed all the issues. Apart from one; the noise. Ferrari went to great lengths to prove that they had engineered the California T’s exhaust note in such a way to provide the appropriate soundtrack. But let’s be honest here. It just doesn’t have what it takes. There are flaps and valves that open at different revs but it can often sound a little fake. Those waiting for the rousing crescendo whilst the power builds to the limiter will be disappointed. This engine is all about torque and needs to be driven accordingly. The scream to the redline we are used to from the prancing horse marque is most certainly conspicuous in its absence in this iteration.
Some will argue this contributes to its GT status and I can understand why they would. Engine drone on a long journey can be incredibly tiresome. But I would have liked more and it is the one negative I can see with this car. It is so exceptionally competent in almost everything it does that it needs a voice to remind you it is still a stallion at heart. With that missing, both in terms of volume and quality, it is here (and only here) it loses out to its main rival, the Aston Martin Vanquish, which sounds utterly glorious. Perhaps it’s the price to pay for forced induction but I sincerely hope it’s a problem Ferrari finds a solution to for the California T’s replacement, the Portofino.
The California T cost from £155,000 when new. A good one can now be had for between £125-135,000 on the secondary market. From new they were backed by Ferrari’s seven-year servicing plan.