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In Cal­i­for­nia. Who’d have thought?

Every year, car com­pa­nies give truly fright­en­ing amounts of money to mar­ket­ing ge­niuses to come up with ex­cit­ing lo­ca­tions and en­tic­ing ways to launch their ve­hi­cles to a snob­bishly dis­in­ter­ested me­dia. But it’s hard to imag­ine too much over­time or men­tal el­bow grease went into the de­ci­sion to un­veil Fer­rari’s Cal­i­for­nia T by driv­ing it in... Cal­i­for­nia. To be fair, Los Angeles, the city that time for­got and grav­ity ig­nores (the peo­ple there do not age, nor sag) is very much the nat­u­ral home for this thrust­ing and showy brand to play. Amer­ica is where most of the world’s Fer­raris are pur­chased (a global-mar­ketlead­ing 34 per cent of them), and the Cal­i­for­nia is the com­pany’s high­est-sell­ing model, so it stands to rea­son that a lot of them end up here, and that this might’ve been the com­pany’s goal all along. Un­like the Fer­raris that young men lust after, the Cal­i­for­nia is not small, sleek, slight or su­per­car swift, nor is it mid-en­gined. What it is – be­tween that big, bulging bon­net and a rear end that’s al­most as top heavy as a clichéd Cal­i­for­nia girl – is com­fort­able, spa­cious, easy to en­ter and un­in­tim­i­dat­ing to drive. In the past, beard-stroking en­thu­si­asts have scoffed at the ease with which this Faux-rrari at­tracts those who want the brand­ing iron with­out the fire. But this is the T for Turbo model, bear­ing an en­gine up­grade and var­i­ous other tweaks that de­mand we take it more se­ri­ously. Our visit starts with a day of time-zone adap­ta­tion in LA’S fast and funky Kore­atown – where Fer­raris are about as thin on the ground as any kind of fo­liage in this con­crete jun­gle. The supremely cool Line Ho­tel is an oa­sis of proper, on-brand lux­ury among the pro­lif­er­a­tion of vape shops and dive bars (we can’t rec­om­mend the nearby R Bar highly enough – Kiefer Suther­land drinks there, ’nuff said). Our hosts de­cide jet lag is best beaten by walk­ing around naked among some il­log­i­cally groin-proud lo­cal Korean men in a spa that of­fers su­per­heated rooms full of lava rocks that you’re en­cour­aged to lie on. It’s one way of stay­ing awake. For­tu­nately, what lies ahead is a top-down drive along a road that has rea­son­able claims, rather than just chest-thump­ing Amer­i­can ones, to be the most jaw-achingly beau­ti­ful in the world. In­deed, a ‘Truth in Nomen­cla­ture’ Com­mis­sion would prob­a­bly force us to drop the first word off our Great Ocean Road if it were to be com­pared to Cal­i­for­nia’s High­way One. The whole stag­ger­ing stretch of 740km from Mal­ibu to San Fran­cisco is im­pres­sive, but it’s the sec­tion from the stupidly large, road-hug­ging Red­woods of Big Sur to the cliffs near Carmel-by-the-sea, where it looks like the jagged coast­line and foam­ing Pa­cific Ocean are at­tempt­ing to bite lumps out of the ver­tig­i­nous and ver­dant slopes above. The road it­self looks sim­ply un­fea­si­ble, like a Game of Thrones open­ing cred­its graphic made real – huge and quite beau­ti­ful bridges span­ning deep blue chasms and sec­tions where it feels like you’re al­most driv­ing on the sea, rather than over it. Here, it’s not un­com­mon to swear, loudly and in­vol­un­tar­ily, on round­ing cor­ners and be­ing con­fronted by yet an­other vista. When the reg­u­lar sea fogs roll in, it can feel like you’re fly­ing, thanks to the clouds rolling away be­neath you. And the Fer­rari’s cabin is very much a first-class seat on this flight, with leather on luxe and a taste­ful smat­ter­ing of car­bon fi­bre. With the roof down and ‘Com­fort’ mode se­lected on the steer­ing wheel dial, life is easy breezy. No other Fer­rari is so ef­fort­less to drive, nor rides so smoothly, but the mas­sive 755Nm of torque on of­fer from the new, twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 (big ca­pac­i­ties are so last season) is al­ways just a toe-poke away – handy for when you need to whiz past a Win­nebago crammed with mid­dle-class Aus­tri­ans. Or were they Ger­mans? Switch to ‘Sport’, how­ever, and the Cal­i­for­nia T changes char­ac­ter in a way its pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions could not man­age. A jump of 46kw, up to a very se­ri­ous 412kw, helps, so too a zero to 100km/h time of 3.6 sec­onds (which is fast, un­til you con­sider that a more vi­cious ver­sion of this same en­gine pushes the Fer­rari 488 GTB to that speed in three sec­onds flat). A flick of the switch changes ev­ery­thing, firm­ing up the sus­pen­sion, muscling up the

steer­ing, speed­ing up the shifts from the seven-speed flappy-pad­dle gear­box and im­bu­ing each gear change with a rasp­ing, per­cus­sive bang from the ex­hausts. In this mode, driven with ap­pro­pri­ate vigour, the Cal­i­for­nia T feels and sounds like a proper Fer­rari, even if do­ing so is an op­tional fea­ture that many own­ers may never fully ex­plore. To drive it prop­erly, you’ll have to get off High­way One, of course, be­cause as filled as it is with bril­liant sweep­ing cor­ners, it’s even more packed with peo­ple driv­ing very slowly while hold­ing their phones out the win­dow. A de­tour inland along Carmel Val­ley Road, which winds through canyons, vine­yards and forests, is highly recommended. Given its abil­ity to be­come a lux­u­ri­ous cruiser for when you want to just drink in the views, or to switch to a bark­ing, ag­gres­sive sports car when you want to loosen the leash a bit, the Fer­rari Cal­i­for­nia T might just be the best car to tackle the world’s great­est road, or at least the best Fer­rari – con­vert­ible Ford Mus­tangs seem to be a more pop­u­lar, and cheaper, choice. In Australia, this dou­bly good Fer­rari will set you back $409,888, in the­ory. Good luck leav­ing the show­room with­out the ‘Han­dling Spe­ciale’ pack ($15,750), sports ex­haust ($1400), 20-inch wheels ($1330), and your choice of paint for the brakes and fab­ric for the seat stitch­ing ($2700 and $1230 re­spec­tively). Oh, and a more re­al­is­tic price tag of about $435,000. Hey, Fer­rari has to make the money to pay its bril­liant mar­ke­teers some­how. fer­


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