Ferrari California

14 May, 2008 12:05pm James Disdale

Famous Italian firm's stunning new baby GT blasts in.

The California dreaming is over – Ferrari has finally pulled the wraps of its stunning new supercar!

These are the first pictures of the exciting California, which is set to be the star of this October’s Paris Motor Show. Boasting a new 454bhp V8, a slick shifting 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and folding hardtop, the Italian newcomer will be a driver’s delight.

But the Italian won’t have it all its on way. Auto Express can reveal that the model will go head-to-head with another eagerly anticipated supercar – the Jaguar F-type. We’ve got the full story on the Brit bruiser here.

Pitching the best of Britain against the cream of Italy, the two machines are the most exciting to emerge in recent years, and are set to give a Porsche and Aston Martin a real run for their money.

First to arrive will be the Pininfarina-penned California, which will become the Italian firm’s entry-level Grand Tourer, slotting into the range below the 599 Barchetta. It a will also indicate the point at which the firm’s range divides into lightweight, hardcore sportscars such as the F430, and luxurious front-engined GT motors.

And as you can see, the design is clearly influenced by bigger 599. At the front are distinctive swept back headlamps, together with a large ‘egg-crate’ grille. Look down the sides and you’ll see the steeply rising waistline, while at the stubby rear end are the company’s trademark circular lamps and an eye-catching quad exhaust layout.

But the big news is the inclusion of a folding hard top, which will come as standard on all versions. Made of aluminium to keep weight down, it is electrically powered and can be stowed away at the flick of a switch.

With the hood lowered, you’ll be better placed to enjoy the tuneful soundtrack of the 4.3-litre V8. Mounted in a mid-front position – a first for the prancing horse – the unit features direct injection and produces 454bhp. Connected to an all-new 7-speed dual clutch gearbox it will allow the California to scorch from standstill to 60mph in just 4.0-seconds.

Ride and handling
Like all Ferraris, the newcomer should also excel once the road turns twisty. A new multi-link rear suspension set-up promises exceptional agility and sharp responses, while the adjustable F1-Trac traction control has been tweaked. Carbon ceramic brakes mean that reigning in all the performance shouldn’t be a problem either.

Long distance cruising ability will also be part of the California’s extensive abilities. Inside, the cabin gets what Ferrari call a 2+ seating layout that means carrying occasional rear passengers should be a possibility, while a decent-sized boot will swallow enough luggage for a weekend away.

No firm launch date has yet been revealed, but expect the first examples to hit UK showrooms in 2009 priced at around £130,000.

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