California T: The most drivable Ferrari yet

We test drive the prancing horse that will appeal most to new Ferrari buyers.

Damien Reid December 13, 2016

The marketing people from Ferrari have worked hard over the past six decades to push its Formula One programme and with it, Ferrari’s volume-selling mid-engined sports cars such as the current 488 GTB and Spyder.

However, the Prancing Horse has a long and distinguished career which preceded F1 of classic GT touring that the California T taps into with its V8 engine mounted up front and 2+2 seating capacity. The California T is a beautifully executed tribute to this glorious era and is named after the 250 California, which was born to take on the likes of Aston Martin and Jaguar in the mid 1950s.

This modern day iteration features a more contemporary nose which houses a 553bhp, 3.9-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 while compared to the earlier Cali T launched in 2008, every panel except for the roof is new and underneath it’s also 12 per cent stiffer with quicker steering. 

How does that equate to the road? It’s probably the most ‘drivable’ Ferrari in the current range, as easy as a BMW or Audi to negotiate the urban jungle or inner city parking stations with feather-light steering and unlike its sportier brothers, offers great visibility over the shoulders as well as being the easiest to climb in and out from.

It’s not as stiff or as focused as the 488 GTB but it’s not designed to be either as one of the California T’s mandates is to attract new buyers to the brand who may not want the raw feel of the other two-seaters. The metal roof drops in 14 seconds and it feels almost as stiff regardless of whether it’s in place or tucked away in the top half of the boot.

Plant the pedal and there’s not much turbo lag in the lower gears – noticeable, yes, but not annoying. While there’s more lag in the higher gears, you’re rewarded with more urge without shifting down or working the engine hard.

On the open road, the turbo V8 is unleashed and delivers that exquisite Ferrari, high-pitched scream that sends shivers down your spine as it passes 100kmh in 3.6 seconds and tops out at 315kmh.

Specs

  • Engine: 3.9-litre, twin-turbo V8
  • Power: 553bhp @7500rpm
  • Torque: 755Nm @ 4750rpm
  • Transmission: seven-speed automatic
  • 0-100kmh: 3.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 315kmh 
  • Price: AED 900,000