AutoBlog has a great story on the new Ferrari California.
This is Ferrari's latest steed and it is every bit a thouroughbreed as the other stallions in the Maranello stable.
We've abridged the article here due to space constraints. For the whole story, click here.
First Drive: 2009 Ferrari California in Sicily
Posted Oct 31st 2008 11:59AM by Noah Joseph
The product of ceaseless development, racing dominance and collaboration with its technical partners, the California comes standard with all the bells, whistles and bar-room bragging rights you can shake an aluminum-alloy stick at. The brakes, developed with Brembo, are carbon-ceramic. The 460-horsepower 4.3-liter V8, based on the same engine architecture that motivates such lust-worthy machines as the Alfa 8C Competizione, Maserati GranTurismo and Ferrari's own 430 Scuderia, incorporates direct injection for optimal fuel delivery. The lightning-quick transmission, specially developed by Getrag, features seven speeds and twin clutches. The ingenious roof mechanism is the fastest and lightest in the industry. We could go on and on, but like many of the finer things in life, the whole of a Ferrari is more than the sum of its parts.
The styling of contemporary Ferraris is a divisive issue, some remaining enamored with Pininfarina's pen, others deriding an incongruity to their design. Critics point to rival Lamborghini's more aggressive styling, Aston Martin's more classical design, and Porsche's cleaner and simpler lines. But telling a Gallardo apart from a Murcielago, a Vantage from a DBS or a Cayman from a 911 remains a relative challenge even for the trained eye, while each Ferrari looks completely different from one another, yet still remaining unmistakably and instantly identifiable as a Ferrari. And that's no mean feat.
The California, for its part, is not immune to the controversy. Initial public reaction focused primarily on the rear end, which had to rise to the challenge of accommodating the complex folding roof mechanism while retaining a usable trunk. But like its stable-mates, the California's is a design that grows on you. Although to many, Ferrari remains inextricable from its iconic red livery, the subtlety of the California's lines comes into its own better in darker hues, a trait it shares with other gran turismo Ferraris of late, including the previous 456 GT and the current 612 Scaglietti. That may be more than mere coincidence considering the ethos behind the California.
The engine comes alive with the sweetest rasp that only grows more vivacious under way. Feathering the throttle hints at how much power lies under the command of your right foot, and summoning up even just half demonstrates vividly and instantly that the California has earned its Prancing Horse as much as any that have come before. Throttle response is instant and speed builds urgently with the next corner coming up fast as you thank the boys from Maranello for including state-of-the-art carbon-ceramic brakes as standard equipment.
Ferrari calls the California a 2+. That's not a typo, and while the California is homologated as a four-seater, the rear seats are severely short on leg room – like those found in the Aston DB9 Volante, Porsche 911 Cabrio or Lexus SC430 – leaving them usable only by small children or for a spin around the block with friends. They're more useful for extra baggage and can fold flat to allow pass-through from the generous trunk, which together with the trick folding hard-top makes the California the most versatile Ferrari in the company's range, if not in its history.
Reluctantly walking away from the car also gave us perspective to answer the essential question: Was Enzo right? Is the next Ferrari really the best Ferrari? After spending a day behind the wheel of the latest to roll out the factory gates at Maranello, we're left with little doubt. But even that would be erased if one day behind the wheel turned into every day. Of course that's just one writer's opinion... but opinion can count for a lot.
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