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2015 Ferrari California T (Ferrari)
2015 Ferrari California T (Ferrari)

Road Test

2015 Ferrari California T: If you thought the 2014 model was slow, this is the car for you Add to ...

Tech Specs

2015 Ferrari California T

Base price: $198,000 (U.S.)

Engine: 3.9-litre twin turbocharged V-8

Horsepower/torque: 560 hp/557 lb-ft

Transmission: Dual-clutch automatic with shift paddles

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): (est.) 12.5 litres/100 km, premium fuel

Alternatives: Bentley Continental GT Convertible, BMW M6 Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG, Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet

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The outgoing Ferrari California had much going for it. Hard-charging V-8 power? Check. A refined folding metal convertible top? Check. Best-selling Ferrari ever? Check. Prominent rear end that drew comparisons with various bootylicious stars? Check again.

That last characteristic was top of mind for designers of the next-generation 2015 California T, arriving this fall. Hardtop convertibles tend to have large rear bodywork to allow for the folded metal roof to hide away, but with athleticism and sleek design key to any Ferrari’s appeal, the exotic Italian auto maker resculpted the entire car, with focus on reworking the height and heft of Cali T’s rear end.

Part of that resculpting was for performance, its front end made wider and shorn of its fog lights to accommodate extra cooling for the new, twin turbocharged V-8, as well as nostrils on the hood and fenders to help dissipate all that quick-spinning turbo heat.

It will be Ferrari’s first turbocharged engine since the F40 road-legal racer of the late 1980s, but unlike that track star, improved fuel efficiency in the Cali T is also a key consideration. The engine decreases from 4.3 to 3.9 litres, helping to provide a 15 per cent decrease in fuel consumption, says powertrain manager Vittorio Dini, adding that a heavy right foot will result in more fuel use, because this car is heavier and has more power.

How much more? It has 560 hp, 100 more horses than when the Cali debuted in 2009, and 70 more than the outgoing model. But where the turbos do their hardest work is in the low-end torque department, up 200 lb-ft to 557. Flooring the throttle creates a momentarily pleasing push in the backside before those turbos kick in to propel the car from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, the usual Ferrari shriek tamed to a still soul-stirring 7,500 rpm wail.

On curvy roads, the California turns in quickly but not alarmingly so, and you won’t feel any body lean unless you’re truly risking life and licence. Combine that impressive performance with the folding hard top’s decent trunk room, even with the top stowed, and it’s a practical and comfortable commuter.

The Cali T is not a track car, but it’s quick enough to be one, with handling that outshines the comfort-oriented luxury machines of most $200,000-plus convertibles, save perhaps the Porsche 911 Turbo S soft top.

Looks

9.0. Slimmed down and resculpted rear end conveys exotic performance ability from all angles.

Interior

8.5. Comfortable, artfully minimalist in design, but still luxurious.

Performance

9.5. Super quick, takes performance on the road more seriously than most comfort-oriented rivals.

Safety

7.5. Incredible braking, and power for safe passing, but temptingly high dynamic limits.

Cargo

9.0. Still fake back seats, but they fold for a golf clubs-ready pass-through, even top down.

Infotainment

9.0. Killer 1,280-watt JBL Professional available.

Green

4.0. 15 per cent better than before, but more power still means more fuel when pushed.

The Verdict

9.0. Serious performance, exotic looks and a fair helping of in-town comfort and hardtop-convertible versatility.

You’ll like this car if:

  • You’re not interested in taking your exotic to the track, but still like that sports car sound and fury.
  • You like a hardtop convertible’s extra security, but want decent cargo room with the top down.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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