A ls Porsche started to build SUVs and presented the Cayenne, went a murmur through the crowd. Many sports car fans feared for the image of the brand with the horse in its coat of arms. Ultimately, the people of Zuffenhausen entered dangerous terrain: they made themselves comparable. It went well - very well in fact. The strong thick ship opened up completely new customer groups for the Stuttgart-based company and drove sales figures to unimagined heights. With a view to the latest coup by Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo with regard to the sports cars with the Cavallino Rampante on their nose, similar concerns are appropriate.
Competitor to the hardtop roadster Mercedes SL
Trend reversal towards sports-grade Gran Turismo
Now a Ferrari is by no means a Mercedes - certainly not. But the incomparable ones from Maranello expose themselves to a certain degree of comparability. At the same time, the trend reversal away from the idea of the uncompromising hardcore athlete à la F430 to the sport-ready Gran Turismo with open-air option for everyone and every day opens up opportunities. Namely, if you succeed in making new friends in this way, in other words: to address buyers who have previously not been branded. And the chance that the California could do just that is good. Why it is like that? Quite simply: Because the Italians have succeeded in treading the path of virtue without completely losing sight of the brand's declared goal, sport.
In other words: The Ferrari California can cruise or speed - whatever you want. The ingredients of the comfort-oriented overall package do not even differ significantly from those of the Ferrari sports program: Take the rear-wheel drive that has proven itself in all models of the brand, add a carbon-ceramic composite brake supplied by Brembo and season the whole thing with a transaxle design flanged to the new 4.3-liter V8 with gasoline direct injection seven-speed dual clutch transmission - the balanced gourmet menu is ready.
Like a ship in heavy seas
This oneIt goes without saying that it only really tastes good with a good dose of comfort. Ergo, the flowing body is given significantly more freedom of movement than is usual with the brand's sports models. During the brisk cornering, the almost 1.8 ton California offends like a ship in heavy seas, which is why the well-contoured carbon seat shells, which are available for an extra charge, are recommended as a useful extra. In contrast, the Italian hardtop convertible can safely ignore poor road surfaces. Transverse joints, manhole covers and asphalt approaches do not really disturb the occupants of the luxury Italian convertible. Not even the forces of nature succeed in doing this.
Once the two-part wind deflector is installed in a specially designed protective cover that is permanently installed in the trunk, motorway flights at 200 km /h and more can be mastered without having to do this the hairstyle is permanently damaged by the wind. If you can't stand the wind noise level in the long run, the hardtop made of aluminum panels can disappear into the storage compartment provided for it within 14 seconds. This reduces the volume of the luggage compartment from 340 to 240 liters. But this is not really dramatic.
Space is still sufficient
The space available is still sufficient, the trunk itself has a pleasantly smooth surface and is easily accessible even when the top is open. There is additional storage space in the interior if the California owner decides against the rear seats included in the optionally available configuration 2+. The latter makes sense because the rear seats do not really invite you to ride due to the limited legroom. Things look different at the front: the driver and front passenger enjoy a lot of privacy and elbow room because of the high center tunnel and the 1.90 meter wide vehicle. There is also space for long legs.
Only the seating position in the driver's seat, which is screwed deeply and firmly onto the console in the test car and is therefore not height-adjustable, takes some getting used to. If you are not one of the giants and adjust the adjustable steering wheel as low as you like, you can take a look at the instruments with the upper part of the steering wheel rim. And that is absolutely essential. In addition to leisurely cruising, brisk cornering is an immovable part of the broad repertoire of the downright musical convertible.
The two-seater can also race
The California has as many keys as the Italian star Tenors. From the comfortably warm eight-cylinder timbre in lower engine speed regions to the hoarse, throaty screaming typical of the brand's athletes when approaching the maximum engine speed of 8,000 rpm, everything is included. The rough oneAside from the overall very business-like appearance of California, those Ferraristi will primarily experience those who, despite all the dignity, allow their four-wheeled friend to run freely. The two-seater can also race - as the lap time of 1.13.5 minutes achieved on the small circuit in Hockenheim proves.
This means that the Italian is in a league with such renowned athletes as the Aston Martin DBS or the Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro. The already mentioned strong lateral inclination of the body and the weight, which is slightly pressing during braking maneuvers, require a certain amount of getting used to. However, the California does not pose insurmountable tasks for its pilots. The chassis, which is equipped with magnetically controlled shock absorbers, is neutral to slightly understeering, and the gear changes made with the help of the gearshift paddles on the steering wheel are smooth. The play in the drive train, which is often noticeable in sports cars built in transaxle design, as well as unsightly shift jerks are also not an issue with Ferrari's latest open-air creation. The brake decelerates at a consistently high level, the sprint qualities are worthy of all honor with 4.2 seconds to 100 and 14.7 seconds to 200 km /h.
Base price of 176,200 euros
Primarily, the Ferrari California could be said to have a rather high cost level: With a base price of 176,200 euros, the southern country is exactly the same price as the Mercedes SL 63 AMG tested in 2008 in full regalia. But it has always been a bit more expensive to have a special taste.