In-depth reviews

Ferrari California T (2014-2018) review - Engines, performance and drive

Phenomenal, surging performance from the high-revving V8 matches an impressively controlled ride

Leave the Ferrari California in comfort mode and the engine is muted and the suspension supple, but on the right road this is still a true Ferrari.  Since the original was launched updates have the weight and boosted power significantly, and the twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 provides impressive acceleration with no hint of lag.

Turn the wheel-mounted Manettino switch to Sport, and the exhaust barks into life, the gear changes are sharper and the whole car feels more alert. The twin-clutch gearbox is a highlight too, with smooth auto shifts and super-fast changes when you use the paddles.

The Handling Speciale package can also be ordered, which adds even stiffer suspension and a faster steering rack. You need to unlock the more dynamic settings by moving the Manettino to Sport mode, as with the standard car, but the sharper steering – which also becomes noticeably weightier – and greater sense of security in fast corners make the HS package a worthwhile investment.

The ride suffers as a trade-off, of course, but you can twist the Manettino back to Comfort mode when you’re not in the mood. This changes the character of the car to a more lethargic and easy to drive cruiser, which will likely suit most California T owners most of the time.

Engine

The California T’s twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 is a gem, offering extraordinary performance in what is actually quite a weighty GT car. Although it’s capable of generating monstrous amounts of torque, Ferrari engineers decided to limit the amount available in the lower gears – not because the running gear can’t handle it, but because there’s an expectation that a Ferrari engine should deliver a crescendo of muscle as the revs rise. The California certainly pulls that trick off with aplomb, and it’s a joy to ride the surge of torque as the engine stretches towards its 7,500rpm redline.

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