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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

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.9 out of 5

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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.

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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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