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2013 Ferrari California Debut

More power and less weight could be enough to outrun the California’s boulevardier status.


Ferrari Research Click to hide

What's New

The origami-topped Ferrari gets less weight and a bit more power, which is always a recipe for a good thing. Its engineers have shaved 66 pounds from behind the seat cushions and inside the glovebox, bringing total weight down to 4067 pounds. It’s still north of two tons, however. The 4.3-liter V-8 is boosted by 37 horsepower for a total of 490 hp and 372 lb-ft of torque, which Ferrari says is good for a 0.1-second faster time to 60. We doubt anybody who buys a 2013 California will be splitting hairs over this. But if you would, and you are, the California also comes with a new Handling Speciale package: optional magnetorheological adaptive dampers, stiffer springs and quicker steering will help the California embarrass itself less on winding roads, though obviously not to the levels of its fleet-footed stablemates. For the people Ferrari is targeting, they’re ok with that.

Who It's For

Ferraris are supposed to be sleek if not snappy, and the California is definitely in the former. Well, maybe; some people criticize the California for having a large, artificially inflated rear end. Sort of like the women who hail from this Ferrari’s namesake. A more visceral, hardcore Ferrari convertible would be the 458 Italia, but it would be less practical, harder-riding, and more expensive. Of course, when talking about supercars, all of those points are relative. The California starts at a “mere” $192,000, compared to a $257,000 Ferrari 458. Hey, the rich are people too—and for those who want the Ferrari experience but aren’t concerned about track times as much as they are about impressing certain subsets of the female population, let us remind you that the power hardtop folds in just 14 seconds.

Key Features

Aside from the “less weight, more power” mantra, there aren’t many other changes to the Ferrari California. It still retains its key characteristics:
  • A 4.3-liter V-8 engine that sounds amazing with the top down.
  • This is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox that’s mounted in a rear transaxle for better weight distribution.
  • Curbside appeal will make sure the valets will park you out front, until the guy in the 599 GTO shows up.
  • That top, by the way, drops into the trunk in 14 seconds, all the better to impress the neighbors and their short attention spans.

What We Think

Ferrari’s most “mainstream” car is a mixed bag. Some deride it for being nothing but pure flash-in-the-pan boulevardier—something snapped up by middle-aged housewives that merely differentiate themselves from Toyota Solara owners by belonging in a different tax bracket. Ouch. Not our words, we swear. Because while the California isn’t aimed at track-day nerds in mid-engined Scuderia specials and millionaire playboys traversing continents behind V-12 power, it’s incredibly seductive on its own merits—top down through the hills of its geographic namesake, listening to that sonorous 430-derived V-8 engine, there are few other cars that can replicate such a singular experience.

Back to Auto Show Coverage: Geneva 2012

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