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2017 Ferrari California

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2017 Ferrari California Expert Review

By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor

With its Pininfarina styling, twin-turbo V8 and modest entry price (at least by Ferrari standards), the 2017 Ferrari California T supercar may be the most rational exotic you can get for under $210,000. A retractable hardtop allows the California T to perform as a coupe or convertible, while the lightweight body and finely tuned chassis make it a very playful sports car. An adaptive suspension similar to that found on the Corvette Z06 and Porsche 911 changes the ride from sporty to soft in milliseconds, further improving the overall driving feel. The California T’s seductive skin shames more traditional competitors like the Mercedes-Benz SL and Bentley Continental GT, but it feels right at home when parked next to an Aston Martin V8 Vantage or Maserati GranTurismo.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you have cash to burn on an open-air supercar, Ferrari’s 2017 California T is a very easy choice to live with. For the money, it offers superb performance, and when equipped with the optional HS (Handling Speciale) package becomes an insanely competent performer.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need an exotic with a bit more room behind the front seats, a Bentley Continental GT might make a better choice. Looking to save some money? The Corvette Z06 delivers better performance for a fraction of the cost.

How It Ranks
What's New for 2017

Ferrari’s 2017 California T retractable-hardtop exotic gains a new Handling Speciale package. This $8,120 option greatly improves the California T’s performance both on the track and in the street. It’s worth every penny.

Driving the California
Driving Impressions

While Ferrari’s 2017 California T may not exhibit the same razor-sharp handling or blistering speed as a 488GTB, it is still a very compelling buy. This grand touring masterpiece was...

... designed to deliver a comfortable ride under normal driving conditions, but still behave like any car wearing the prancing-horse badge when the roads begin to wind and twist. Even with the top retracted the California T remains solid and unshakable, exhibiting no body flex or cowl shake. The steering is quick and precise and the MagneRide adjustable suspension always seems to know when to tighten up or lay back. Of course, the twin-turbocharged V8 is a brilliant performer and its 553 horsepower is good enough to eke out a 3.6-second zero-to-60-mph run and a top speed of 196 mph. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is F1 worthy, but oh how we long to test our skills with a traditional manual transmission.

TURBO PERFORMANCE ENGINEER
Nestled between the California T’s console vents is a touch-screen display that reports on the turbos’ boost levels, response and efficiency. Hidden from view upon start up, a simple 3-second tap on the screen reveals this Italian Easter egg.

RETRACTABLE HARDTOP
The 2017 Ferrari California T can go from hardtop coupe to open-air roadster in a mere 14 seconds. A push of a button moves the aluminum top into a space located behind the tiny rear seat, although when retracted cargo space goes from 12 cubic feet to merely 8.5.

2017 Ferrari California Details
Interior

As you’d expect of a Ferrari, top-quality leather abounds inside Ferrari’s 2017 California T convertible, and it’s available in a variety of hues. Although the T is technically a 2+2, the rear seats are cruel to anybody but the smallest kids. It’s best to use the rear as added storage. On a positive note, the rear seatback does fold forward to help the T carry skis or golf clubs in its trunk, and the deeply bolstered front seats are comfortable on long trips. A 6.5-inch touch screen controls the stereo/navigation, and all conventional stalk-type controls are found on the steering wheel.

Exterior
2017 Ferrari California photo

Ferrari says the California T’s flanks have been inspired by the pontoon fenders of the classic 250 Testa Rossa. While that may be a bit of a stretch, we like how the compact new California looks lower and longer than the previous model. More important, the back area in which the top stows does not look as large and ungainly as before. On a performance note, the California T’s triple-fence aerodynamic rear diffuser adds downforce without increasing drag, a legitimate concern in a car with a 196-mph top speed.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

As a Ferrari, the 2017 California T oozes style and performance. In addition to its retractable hardtop, twin-turbo V8, dual-clutch transaxle and capable chassis with powerful carbon-ceramic brakes, the California T is equipped like a proper grand touring car. Dual-zone air conditioning, naturally, is standard, as are power seats and a touch-screen display for the navigation and stereo, which also benefits from USB ports under the armrest. Perhaps handiest of all is a 7-year complimentary maintenance plan that’s transferable to new owners.

Optional Equipment

Ferrari adds options as readily as any other manufacturer, so the Maranello company is more than happy to build you a California T like no other. There are 28 exterior color choices, matching painted calipers, six wheel designs, 15 interior colors and carbon-fiber accents, plus custom leather or Alcantara coverings for the seats, doors, dash and headliner. You can order front and rear parking cameras, faster-acting MagneRide suspension, adaptive front lighting, a 12-speaker JBL Professional audio system, a fire extinguisher and even Apple’s CarPlay. Most desirable to driving enthusiasts, however, is the Handling Speciale package that adds a tighter sport suspension.

Under the Hood

What’s under the 2017 California T’s long and curvaceous hood? It’s a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 mounted aft of the front wheels for improved weight distribution. This 4-cam powerplant is the first turbo engine used in a production Ferrari since the hallowed F40 of 1987. Thanks to a pair of twin-scroll turbos (that mute the sound of the exhaust a bit), boost builds quickly and progressively in the California T, which packs significantly more horsepower and torque than the naturally aspirated 4.3-liter V-8 in the previous-generation California. Significant improvements in fuel efficiency mean the 2017 Ferrari California T avoids the dreaded gas-guzzler tax.

3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8
553 horsepower @ 7,500 rpm
557 lb-ft of torque @ 2,750-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

With a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $198,973 and a delivery charge of $3,750, the 2017 Ferrari California T costs $202,723. Good luck, however, finding one at that price. In actuality, most California T models leave the showroom highly personalized and priced much closer to $300,000. And at that price, competitors such as the Aston Martin DB9 Volante, Audi R8 Spyder, Maserati GranTurismo and Mercedes-Benz SL begin looking more attractive. But there’s one point to remember: The 2017 California T has an impressive plan that covers all regular maintenance for the first seven years of the car’s life. This will help keep the Ferrari in top mechanical condition, and do wonders for its resale value. As always, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Ferrari.

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