Car Replacement: Ferrari California T
After test driving the Ferrari F12, I decided to visit Graypaul Nottingham Ferrari to see what cars they had available. I looked at the Ferrari 488 but I quickly realised that not only was the luggage space pretty poor, the passenger footwell was taken up by the battery that meant the legroom was severely compromised. The 488 was therefore not a contender.
The next car I looked at was the Ferrari California T. The Ferrari California had quite a contentious introduction back in 2009; here was a four-seater, front-engined cabriolet with a folding hardtop roof, dual-clutch gearbox but it was the styling that was not to everyone’s taste. However, I had owned two of the first-generation California’s and I really enjoyed the cars and felt that they were underrated and unloved by the press.
The California T has been heavily revised. On the outside, Ferrari gave the California a substantial facelift, with only the folding roof mechanism surviving the process intact. The interior has been updated too with a new infotainment system, seats and dashboard. The boot space is still pretty much the same and can be extended by dropping the rear seats back. However, the biggest improvements are underneath the bodywork. The Ferrari California T introduced a turbocharged engine (hence the ‘T’) back to the Ferrari range for the first time in the 22 years since the F40 supercar ceased production. Other improvements have been made to the twin-clutch gearbox and magnetorheological suspension dampers.
I decided that this may well be a contender for my next car, so I asked for a test drive, which was immediately arranged. The sales executive drove the car for the first half mile or so before offering me the driver’s seat. The first thing I noticed when getting in the driver’s seat was an air of familiarity, although the interior was looking more updated than my previous California’s. The dashboard dials were in the same location as was the infotainment system. The steering wheel was different with indicator buttons and other controls located on it when previously there were located on stalks.
However, it was the drive that was significantly better than I remembered. The ride and body control off the California was great but not impressive. This has now been addressed and the California T rides exceptionally well regardless of which position (Confort or Sport) I placed the manettino in.
The engine did not seem a loud as the normally aspirated California but it still has the flat-plane so it still sounds raw, clean and crisp. The new engine ensures that the car is startlingly fast, the car hitting 62mph in just 3.6 seconds and you can certainly feel the increased torque.
So the California T is a substantial improvement over the previous generation California, that I enjoyed so much, but it is nearing its lifecycle end. Whilst I love the format of a convertible hard-top with reasonable luggage space and amazing performance, the California T is not going to be my next car.
Upon discussions with the sales executive, he announced that Ferrari were going to launch a completely new California replacement in the not too distant future. I told him that if it looked similar to an F12 but with the California DNA I would be interested in buying one. I was put on the email mailing list for any announcements about the replacement and off I went.