It’s almost crazy to think of a $400,000 car as being the entry-level, but for Ferrari a huge portion of California T owners are first time Ferrari owners – the reason being that in reality most people aren’t spending all their fortune first go, and secondly, many of the more exclusive Ferrari Models are available only to those members of the exclusive “Ferrari Owners” club. So what’s it like to own a California T.
Well first and foremost, lets remember that Ferrari offers one of the most handsome service and support options on the market – of any car maker. Free seven year servicing. That’s pretty darn impressive when you consider that one of the reasons not to buy European luxury cars is the sting in the tail of ownership after a year or so when servicing starts to bite.
But lets look at this vehicle itself. The California T has a very different look to almost all other Ferraris. My 4 year old son certainly notices the Ferrari design cues like the lights at the front and back which even if the prancing horse hadn’t grabbed your attention certainly give it the Ferrari Family look.
It’s long front end covers a twin-turbo V8 – the T was added to the California when they went Turbo, something many thought was a very non-Ferrari thing to do, but in reality I think someone looking to own a Ferrari at this level isn’t really concerned with the aspiration of the engine – its more about the fit, the finish, the feel, the sound and the ride.
There are no compromises here – the bodywork is excellent, the interior leather is impeccably stitched and when you sit down for the first time you are in no way confused as to what you’re driving. This is a Ferrari.
That beautiful wheel (even with the $12,500 option of Carbon Fibre and LED’s for engine revs) has a bold Ferrari Logo front and centre, and the joy of that big red Engine Start button isn’t lost on you after many uses.
Open this page in Chrome Browser or click to open in the Facebook app – and watch our 360 Degree video inside the Ferrari California T:
Sitting still, your mates won’t be asking about the Turbo, they just want you to give it a rev – and there’s no disappointment either. Raw thumping sound that will be captured on smartphone videos and shared on social media for many years yet.
Huge paddles to the left and right of the wheel give a raw racing heritage to the car and in this, more than any other car with “flappy paddle shifters” you want to drive in manual mode. You want to control those blips, shift down a touch early to hear the engine note and try now and then to get the big red lights on the wheel indicating a high rev range.
Funnily enough, you rarely see those LEDs. In normal driving you’re not hitting the limit. Even when you’re channelling your inner teenager off the lights you’ll be surprised how far from the limit you go.
There’s no wanting for more here. The turbo isn’t a restriction. You can at times – if you listen very closely – hear the turbo spin, in a day when Formula One cars are less impressive than the car in my driveway I certainly don’t mind hearing a little turbo now and then.
But it doesn’t hold you back. Power is delivered immediately first time and every time. From the line, or in an overtake – I hazard to guess you’ll forget it even has a turbo after a while.
Your dashboard is a mix of old and new tech – with the tacho front and centre taking up the most space, speedo on the right and LCD customisable display to the left.
Trip computer likes to tease you with “Maximum speed” – which I respectably kept to 111km/h, not because I’m boring but because the regular Cali T owner just isn’t hitting the track in this, and wouldn’t risk their licence for fear of losing the opportunity to get behind the wheel.
I’m not sure I even found the setting to show me how many k’s this thing had done overall, but in reality the LCD is there for basic trip computing and additional sports gauges on display.
At the top of the centre console the clock is digital, but surrounded by a touch sensitive ring which allows you to scroll through turbo gauges like efficiency, pressure and utilisation. Nifty, but perhaps better if it were customisable to allow more of the car’s sensors and gauges to be on display here.
Apple Car play is included as standard, not a $6,000+ option as it was in the FF we drove last year. It’s a great addition to the car because the standard Ferrari Infotainment system needs an overhaul – Ferrari need a UX&D designer to take a good hard look at that and bring it to 2016 specs. Likewise the screen itself is dull and lacks punch – noticeably when on Apple CarPlay mode because the icons seem washed out and dull.
But who am I kidding, none of that’s going to stop you handing over the cash if you’ve got it.
With a retractable hard-top roof, you’ve got the option of open or closed top motoring – and that top goes down in 14 seconds, it’s a work of art in itself.
— EFTM (@EFTM) June 22, 2016
The seats are magnificent, great comfort at idle, and when you’re pushing it around a bend.
At the back there are two other seats, best of luck fitting anyone older than 5 back there though unless the driver and or passenger have super short legs. It’s a 2+ at best, certainly not a 2+2. But enough room to put a smile on little Harri’s face that will last some time yet.
At $409,888 it’s not cheap. And then you’re going to want more. The colour option on this one alone was a $35,000 option; Two tone roof another $12,500. 20″ stunning diamond cut forged wheels – $13,300 – I can go on. All up, $516,888 for this sexy beast we drove.
Next time I’m picking up a Ferrari I have to ask the proper method for removing the key – because more often than not (and I mean 9 times out of 10) the thing just locks in there, goes into Car Wash mode or something and a jiggle and twist seems to get me out – shouldn’t be that hard – so something to learn – and I’m sure something they show you if you actually spend the cash on this car:)
I really enjoyed the Cali T – not because it as a Red Ferrari, but because it was great to drive. Not ridiculous, just great. Power when you want it, the looks from passers-by that say “he drives a Ferrari” and the pleasure of a well sorted chassis that means the you feel at one with the car behind the wheel – at 40km/h or 100km/h. That’s the driving experience a Ferrari offers, and it delivers in spades.