By KBB.com Editors
With a starting price around $200,000, the Ferrari California is actually the least expensive among the Prancing Horse's 2013 models – and one with a dual nature. A retractable hardtop roof that transforms the California from coupe to convertible and an automatic transmission also make it one of the easiest Ferraris to live with on a daily basis. While Ferrari purists may seek a more traditional model with a 12-cylinder engine and a design that looks less like a Maserati, the California still holds plenty of appeal, especially to buyers new to the brand. Now dubbed the California 30 to signify its extra power and loss of weight, this Ferrari is just as comfortable tearing up a track as it is cruising the coastline.
If you desire the badge envy and performance capabilities that come with a Ferrari yet also want an exotic sports car that's suitable for mundane tasks like getting groceries, the California could be the Italian stallion for you. All this and it's a shape-shifting hardtop convertible, too.
Hardcore Ferrari enthusiasts will likely desire four more cylinders and even less weight for maximum performance. For them, the 12-cylinder F12berlineta or FF may be more suitable. If a manual transmission is a must, an Aston Martin Vantage S, Audi R8 and Porsche 911 offer that and a far lower starting price.
Those who fear that this combination convertible/coupe is too soft should take comfort in knowing that the California has gained 30 horsepower and lost 30 kilograms (roughly 66 pounds) of weight for 2013, thus ushering in its new moniker of California 30. For those craving more cornering prowess, there is the Handling Speciale package.
Driving Impressions With a sub-4-second 0-60-mph time and top speed of over 190 mph, the Ferrari California was never exactly slow, but a select few supercar enthusiasts took aim at the "mere"...... 460 horsepower made by the California's V8 engine. They will have even less to harp on with the 2013 California 30, whose naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) V8 engine now brings 490 horsepower to the party and can streak to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds when Launch Control is engaged. Though the California's retractable hardtop design adds considerable weight, the Ferrari's handling and cornering abilities don't seem to suffer. Its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, meanwhile, is a vast improvement over past Ferrari auto-manuals. And then there is the sound that emanates from the California's V8 heart and quad tailpipes when this striking steed is at full gallop. In a word, it's mesmerizing.
The California's retractable hardtop is the first for a Ferrari and the key to this supercar's dual nature. It permits lovely open-air cruising at normal speeds, and the comfortable quiet of a hardtop when the need for performance driving – or just shelter from a storm – takes hold.
7-SPEED DUAL-CLUTCH AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
Ferrari's F1-style dual-clutch 7-speed automatic transmission allows drivers to get off seamless gearshifts with little more than a tap of the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. When less engagement is desired, the transmission's computer processor recognizes driving style and automatically shifts accordingly.
The 2013 Ferrari California 30 boasts plenty of individual style and more creature comforts than you might expect considering this exotic's capabilities. Leather covers just about every surface, and a wide variety of colors is available. The California can be ordered as a "two-plus" or simply as a 2-passenger car. In the former setup, there are two tiny rear seats, while in the latter a parcel shelf resides in that space. In either configuration a fold-down rear seatback allows longer items to be passed through the trunk. You won't find a bevy of audio controls on the steering wheel, but rather two main ones to start the car and switch driving modes.Exterior
Thanks to its longtime partner Pininfarina, there is a healthy dose of Ferrari design in the California convertible's curvaceous body, but there are some oddities as well. Its rear end seems a bit too bulbous and high-perched for a Ferrari, no doubt a consequence of the space required for the convertible's retracting hardtop roof. That element aside, the California is among the rare breed of convertibles that looks equally amazing with the top up or down. Myriad exterior paint colors, wheel choices, carbon-fiber bits and more give customers plenty of customization options when building a Ferrari California.
Drop $200,000-plus for a California and you'll get a mechanical masterpiece, not to mention intangibles that include the envy of other drivers and the pitter-patter of your heart every time you walk into your garage. Items you can put a finger on include dual-zone climate control, 6.5-inch touch-screen display with navigation, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3/DVD audio system with 40 gigs of storage. Carbon-ceramic brakes, bi-xenon headlights and 19-inch wheels are also part of the package. One of the California's most impressive standard features is its complimentary maintenance plan. With it, Ferrari provides seven years of annual scheduled maintenance that is even transferable to a new owner.
One does not buy a Ferrari to blend in, and with that in mind the California can be outfitted with a vast array of custom fabrics, colors and finishes to fit each client, "like a bespoke suit," says the Italian automaker. More traditional options include, believe it or not, cruise control and a rearview camera. Also available are a JBL premium audio system, front parking sensors, diamond-polished forged rims, and a $6,000-plus matching leather luggage set that makes the most of the California's cargo room. For performance-minded buyers, there is the Handling Speciale package, which includes magneto-rheological dampers and a stiffer suspension.
The mid-front-mounted 4.3-liter V8 engine in the 2013 California has now been tuned to send 490 horsepower to the rear wheels. At the same time, this Ferrari convertible is slightly more fuel-efficient, returning a combined 16 mpg vs. the previous 15-mpg rating. Aiding on the efficiency front is Ferrari's first implementation of Stop & Start technology, which turns off the engine at idle and fires it up again in a scant 230 milliseconds when you're ready to run. Premium gasoline is, of course, the drink of choice for Ferrari's direct-injection powerplant.
490 horsepower @ 7,750 rpm
372 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 mpg
The 2013 Ferrari California 30 convertible carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just over $203,000, including destination fees and gas-guzzler tax. Tack on options, and that price can push the California to nearly $300,000. Although the California is the least expensive Ferrari, its price is steep even among its rarefied air. A very well-equipped Mercedes-Benz SL can be had for less, as can an Audi R8 Spyder and Maserati GranTurismo convertible. This pricing is in line, however with an Aston Martin DB9 Volante and less than the starting cost of a Lamborghini Gallardo convertible. If your bank account is big enough to allow consideration of a Ferrari California, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price before indulging.