Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 3.9L V8
Power:
553 HP / 557 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
3.6 Seconds (62 mph)
Top Speed:
196 MPH
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,813 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
12 CU-FT (8.5 CU-FT roof closed)
MPG:
22.4 Combined (est on Euro cycle)
Base Price:
$198,000 (est)
I'll never forget the day I bought my very first Ferrari. It was a bright-red F40, I'd saved up for it for what felt like an eternity and I couldn't wait to get home so I could park it next to my other four-wheeled piece of pride and joy, a stealth-black Lamborghini Countach, so I could compare their blunt-edge, wedge-like shapes and massive spoilers in microscopic detail.

The year was 1987, and the event felt like the pinnacle of my life's achievement. Though both of my Italians had been die-cast in 1/18th scale, I coveted the two supercars with the verve of a true collector, taking in the intricacies of their engine bays, opening their doors and turning their working steering wheels. In reality, the two could have hardly been more different, and yet they both looked like finely crafted perfection to my seven-year-old eyes, their questionable day-to-day practicality completely overshadowed by their unquestionably exotic shapes.

More than two decades later, I'm belting myself into the driver's seat of the 2015 Ferrari California T, the first turbocharged Ferrari since the F40 went out of production in 1992. The Tuscan countryside spreads out ahead, a twisting barrage of two-lane roads on the agenda, and I can't help but reminisce of my much younger self as I twist the red key and thumb the equally red ignition button on the steering wheel.

For a brief moment as I relieved the glory days of my misspent youth, I almost felt envious of my future self. And in a fleeting moment of clarity, I considered the split-personality of me at seven, wanting nothing more than visceral thrills and to be seen by all my friends, and the current me – appreciating the comfort afforded by modern luxuries while still relishing the unbridled performance of an Italian thoroughbred – as an interesting lens with which to experience the California T.

Would either side of me be let down by the experience of reality in a Ferrari? I pulled a paddle to the right of the California's steering wheel, clicking it into first gear, intent on finding out.
2015 Ferrari California T2015 Ferrari California T2015 Ferrari California T

The number of pictures I was asked to take of bystanders with the car tells me it has a certain appeal.

Opinions in the Autoblog offices are split on the second-gen California's appearance. While only some would describe it as unattractive, there's seems to be the prevailing opinion that it is the least beautiful Ferrari currently available. I don't agree – the California T doesn't have the drop-dead looks of such undeniably beautiful front-engine coupes as the early '60s 250 or the iconic Daytona, but it has presence, especially in person, with a very pretty silhouette serving as its defining characteristic.

I polled several Italian passers-by, and the typically style-conscious citizens of Tuscany anecdotally seemed impressed. My Italian isn't great, but the number of pictures I was asked to take of bystanders with the car tells me it has a certain appeal. Current and future California owners will like its styling just fine, and it's safe to assume that the model will remain the brand's most popular product, as it has been since its introduction in 2009 with over 10,000 units sold.

Dimensionally, the 2015 California is almost exactly the same as last year's car, but nearly every body panel of the new T has been altered from the original, with the exception of the folding hardtop, which remains untouched. A good bit of massaging has taken place at the rear of the car, where designers have sought to visually lower the car's wide rear haunches through a more pronounced spoiler and a wider, horizontal theme to stretch the otherwise flat expanses. The lines are, overall, a bit sharper than before, especially up front, where new light clusters extend further into the fenders than before and where angular vents at the lower left and right of the fascia feed air into the engine's twin intercoolers. As a bit of styling flourish, the fenders call to mind the pontoon wings of the original 250 Testa Rossa of the late 1950s.

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Under the shapely bodywork this new T boasts the first turbocharger in the Ferrari lineup in quite some time.

It's under the shapely bodywork that we should be most keen to discuss, as this new T, as mentioned before, boasts the first turbocharger in the Ferrari lineup in quite some time. I can tell you that Ferrari has gone to great lengths – some might argue a few lengths too far – to ensure that the dual twin-scroll turbo units don't impact the California's driving experience any more than necessary.

There are intricately cast three-piece exhaust manifolds on either side of the 3.9-liter flat-plane V8 engine that serve equal lengths of tubing from each exhaust port into the turbochargers, and they are really works of art in their own right. It's a pity most owners will never even see them. Still, their effect will be felt – when combined with the unique phasing of that flat crankshaft, the manifolds allow for much quicker spooling of the turbochargers, which in turn reduces lag to the point where it's practically nonexistent. And they'll be heard, too, as these pipes have been tuned to emit a high-pitched wail instead of the more subdued sound of most turbo engines.

In practice, there's certainly a difference to be felt at low revs when the turbos have yet to spool, but it doesn't feel like lag so much as an aggressively theatric state of tune. This, too, is completely by design. So concerned was Ferrari that a turbocharger would ruin its hard-fought reputation of high-rpm screamers that it artificially lowers the engine's torque in all but seventh gear using technology it calls Variable Boost Management. First through third offer the lowest torque figures, though it's still over 400 pound-feet with an impressively flat plateau, and things get progressively more powerful in fourth, fifth and sixth gears until the full 557 lb-ft is achieved in seventh. The peak of 553 horsepower is achieved at its 7,500 RPM redline.

2015 Ferrari California T

The peak of 553 horsepower is achieved at the V8's 7,500 RPM redline.

I'd wail and gnash teeth at the apparent torque snub if not for the fact that the California T accelerates to Usain-levels of speed with alarming quickness. With launch control enabled, the 3,813-pound California T hits 62 miles per hour in a claimed 3.6 seconds, and I've no reason to doubt that assertion. Top speed is listed at 196 miles per hour.

The other upside of the variable boost system is a decrease in fuel consumption, and therefore improved emissions. No matter what enthusiasts or perspective owners may think, the world's governments won't be giving Ferrari a pass on efficiency requirements, and this downsized turbocharged engine, which also features variable valve timing and direct injection, has been designed to help meet those requirements. Official estimates stand at 22.4 miles per gallon on the European cycle, and will likely come in a bit below that in the States. Expect hybrid technology to be the next advancement to filter its way down the automaker's lineup.

Such need for efficiency is understandable, and we all appreciate Ferrari's enthusiasm for high-strung engines that progressively make more power as they reach for their redline, but I wish those laudable goals were possible without such drastic torque-limiting measures. In any case, firing through the seven ratios offered by the F1 dual-clutch transmission, which swaps cogs quicker than ever before, never failed to put a Joker's grin on my face.
2015 Ferrari California T Folding Hardtop | Autoblog Short Cuts

Ergonomic deficiencies are forgiven once the engine is started and the 14 seconds required to retract the hardtop tick past.

All of us at Autoblog typically prefer traditional, honest-to-goodness manual gearboxes in our sporting machines, but in the case of the California T, the flappy paddles are completely appropriate and work splendidly. The rest of the interior is likewise befitting a car meant for top-down touring, with supple leather for the driver and passenger, plus two mini perches in the back for the kiddies, or, more likely, for a change of clothes for two. Note that the bench seat that only one percent of California buyers opted for is no longer available, leaving tiny twin buckets as the only option. It's also worth knowing that there's enough room in the trunk for a set of golf clubs, even with the folding hardtop stowed.

Ferrari has fitted the latest version of its infotainment tech into the California T. That means there's a high-res, 6.5-inch screen atop the center stack that offers both touchscreen and button control for the audio, navigation and climate control. Also updated is Ferrari's so-called Human-Machine Interface, which means there are no stalks on the column – all necessary functions can be found on the steering wheel, though I did stumble a few times while thumbing the turn signals, not to mention the dozen times I inadvertently activated the wipers while working the wheel at parking-lot speeds.

Any ergonomic deficiencies are quickly forgiven once the engine is started and the 14 seconds required to retract the hardtop tick past; the V8 engine settles into a comfortable idle, the mirrors and seats are adjusted and the journey begins.

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Life at the pace of Ferrari is comfortable, at least in the case of the California T.

Life at the pace of Ferrari is comfortable, at least in the case of the California T. Whether the Manettino switch is set to Comfort or Sport, the ride is well controlled, courtesy of the latest generation of Magneride dampers, which react to changing road conditions quicker than ever before. Also quicker is the ratio of the steering gear. It's almost too quick for a gran turismo omologato, reacting more immediately than expected and sometimes requiring minor mid-turn corrections. Springs are 11-percent stiffer than before, leading to less body roll, which is most certainly appreciated, especially considering the comfortable ride quality.

Pulling to a stop a few hours into my drive, I push the wheel-mounted lever into ESC Off and click into first gear after pressing the button for Launch Control. Left foot firmly on the brakes, I mash the accelerator, wait for the slight calm before the accelerative storm as the engine revs to its desired spot midway up the tachometer, then I jump off the brakes, holding on for dear life with both hands on the wheel.

First gear ends more quickly than anticipated, mostly because the turbo engine maxes out at 7,500 rpm, 500 revs earlier than the naturally aspirated mill it replaces and several grand earlier than you'd like. The force of acceleration, however, leaves nothing to be desired. Second gear, too, runs out quickly, and by the time you find yourself in third, it's time to slow down. Way down.

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The seven-year-old inside us all will want nothing more than to be seen while making a scene in it.

Carbon-ceramic brakes from Brembo perform just as well as expected, with a firm pedal feel and instantaneously powerful force. The minor squeal caused by the impossibly durable surfaces seems a small price to pay for a lifetime of stopping power – Ferrari says owners who don't regularly visit the track, an unlikely place to find a California anyway, will never need to replace any braking components.

I spent a little time playing with the California T's new Turbo Performance Engineer – which is a gauge, and not an actual Italian engineer coming along for the ride as its name suggests. The outer ring of the gauge, which sits between two circular air vents, is touch sensitive, and drivers can switch between five different readouts covering anything you'd like to know about the turbo's operation.

It seems a little sad that the full stable of torque isn't available until seventh gear, especially considering that the three most likely gears for all-out acceleration on the street offer the least amount of thrust. But that detraction only stands out on paper, and in fact would likely just lead to a distinct lack of tread on the Pirelli tires wrapped around the standard 19- or optional 20-inch alloy wheels. Put simply, there really isn't much worth complaining about when behind the wheel of this California T, which is expected to stay in the same $190,000 ballpark as the current model and will include seven years of maintenance.

2015 Ferrari California T

Late in the day, a bright-red sports car flew past me on a winding two-lane in Italy, leaving little more than a shrieking wail and burnt hydrocarbons in its wake as I stood next to my own bright blue steed while taking the pictures you see on these very pages. The fact that I, too, was driving a Ferrari hardly mattered – I still stopped what I was doing to relish the moment. That should tell you all you need to know about the emotional impact of this 2015 California T.

It means this turbocharged thoroughbred is fully worthy of wearing the iconic Prancing Horse emblazoned on its fender, it means that the seven-year-old inside us all will want nothing more than to be seen while making a scene in it, and it means the well-heeled buyers it attracts won't be disappointed.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      k_m94
      • 6 Months Ago
      A turbocharged Ferrari, pretty interesting. It's just a damn shame we can't have turbocharged engines that rev as high and sound as sweet as a naturally aspirated Ferrari, and it's strange that Ferrari would artificially limit one of the turbo's biggest upsides: monstrous low end torque. Still, this probably makes a better GT car than the outgoing Cali. I really would hate to see the 458's replacement go turbo, because while it might not have the same outright thrust as the MP4-12C (now 650S) that 4.5L 9000 rpm V8 is a work of art, especially in Speciale form.
      Dmitriy Markelov
      • 6 Months Ago
      Rear looks ok, side profile is great and the front is meh. I'm really not a fan of Ferrari's extended vertical headlight designs in recent years.
      Matt Mossberg
      • 6 Months Ago
      Every year or every new sports car that comes out seems to stiffen springs by ~10% or stiffer suspension. What enables companies to do this w/o sacrificing comfort, or why don't they start out with a stiffer suspension in the first place? Is it better tech with another suspension part, a stiffer chassis that, something else?
      Jai
      • 6 Months Ago
      It doesn't sound as good as the previous California. Turbos have hit the auto industry like the plague. And no it doesn't improve fuel economy either unless you drive like a woman. I thought I made the right choice by opting for a Lamborghini but even they're no better - I'm gonna sell my G as soon as they start selling a bloody SUV. At least Tesla is more original than all these brands making a mockery of themselves.
        superchan7
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jai
        Turbos allow manufacturers to cheat fuel economy requirements by pushing the fuel saving responsibility onto the end users. Problem is, consumers want horsepower--even if it's just on paper. In the end, I doubt much fuel is saved by going downsize + turbo.
          Jai
          • 6 Months Ago
          @superchan7
          Thank you for understanding my point. I completely agree!
        Matt Mossberg
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jai
        Why does it matter to you that much if lambo makes an SUV? How does that take away from their other cars? Not to mention they are part of vw. All major car companies including Ferrari are partners in ither brands. The relationship may be little or large, while it doesn't matter to me, its the same argument you are making about the pureness of a company. Hell, Ferrari makes bicycles and cologne. It should not matter to the extent of selling your current car if you are happy with it. It's not a sell out and in lambos case it will help them build better sports cars because they'll have more money coming from selling a lot of their SUVs. Like porsche did with the cayenne.
        PatrickH
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jai
        I voted you down for saying you'll replace your Gallardo with an SUV. Either you're trolling or you're an idiot.
          Jai
          • 6 Months Ago
          @PatrickH
          You misunderstood me - I'll sell the Lambo as soon as they start making the SUV because it wouldn't be a pure sports car company anymore which was one of the key elements of the brand. I gate the fact that they're making an SUV. The McLaren P1 and Mercedes AMG GT are shaping up to be mighty fine replacements no. I bought the G solely because of the V10 as it's a dying breed and I absolutely hate the design of the Hurracan, or else I'd have bought the California instead.
          Jai
          • 6 Months Ago
          @PatrickH
          *hate *now
      Teleny411
      • 6 Months Ago
      I always think about down the line when the Turbo goes bad or God Forbid you need an engine (increased risk due to turbo). A Porsche crate engine is about 15k. Wonder how much for a California engine & with all of the electronics that would be a dealer only job. I say that because an entry level Ferrari is a used Ferrari. At least that's what the company has said. On another level as these cars get increasingly more complex and robotic I wonder if we haven't lost the soul of driving. A decent engine, slick MT and throaty exhaust is a real pleasure. Driving a video game can never compare.
      herrstreet
      • 6 Months Ago
      Despite the fact it obviously is a performance monster - this is by a large margin the least desirable car they make. It still looks a lot like a Lexus with an aftermarket Ferrari retrofit front end. But I'm sure it broadens their demographics.
        lostboyz
        • 6 Months Ago
        @herrstreet
        It's the entry level ferrari, so you're right. Also, they limit their sales to 7000 cars a year, it doesn't matter if it was shaped like a brick, they will continue to sell every single one.
      drew
      • 6 Months Ago
      That is still one ugly car.
        Lachmund
        • 6 Months Ago
        @drew
        I would really like to know what you drive. Let me guess: Nissan Sentra?
          TopGun
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Lachmund
          What does that matter what he drives? I agree with him BTW…it's not pretty…yet not many Ferrari's past the 308 have been pretty.
      John Ralphio
      • 6 Months Ago
      F-Type > California
        AronD
        • 6 Months Ago
        @John Ralphio
        Not when it comes to resale value.
      audisp0rta4
      • 6 Months Ago
      Jeremy Korzenwhatever...the folding hardtop is the only thing that wasn't changed on the California, and that's feature you chose to waste a Short Cut video on?!!! Everyone is pretty much familiar with how a folding hardtop operates by now, but that new engine is less well known and infinitely more interesting. You totally need to let Michael Harley school you on how to make a Short Cut video that doesn't totally bore to death. He would've at least blipped the throttle and took off at the end.
      11fiveoh
      • 6 Months Ago
      Hmmm the best porsche 911, or the cheapest ferrari. I know what i'd choose.
        Andrew
        • 6 Months Ago
        @11fiveoh
        If you can afford the cheapest Ferrari, you probably have both.
        RocketRed
        • 6 Months Ago
        @11fiveoh
        I'm guessing you would not choose as Turtle did in Entourage, whom I recall took the California over the 911 when offered the choice as a birthday present. Much to my disgust.
          PatrickH
          • 6 Months Ago
          @RocketRed
          I was under the impression he took both.
      Michael Scoffield
      • 6 Months Ago
      I like this car a lot, but not nearly as much as I like the Jag F-Type and the Corvette Stingray.
        Matt Mossberg
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Michael Scoffield
        I absolutely love the new vette but the California is the better looking car in my opinion. I don't know if you've seen one in person but it's still a very special, beautiful looking Ferrari. It's no 458 but it holds its own just fine IMO.
      HAL
      • 6 Months Ago
      I like the looks. And I love that blue color. I'm also a fan of the wheels.
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