Fer­rari Cal­i­for­nia HS

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

buy­ing a Fer­rari? We’ll see about that.’’ Yet the Cal­i­for­nia is easy to live with and a car you can drive ev­ery day. So birth­day boy can ra­tio­nalise his decision to buy the ma­chine of his dreams to she who must be suc­cess­fully ra­tio­nalised.

I haven’t driven the orig­i­nal 2009 Cal­i­for­nia but its per­for­mance and han­dling have also been crit­i­cised, again by the purists. Per­haps they think it drives like a girl’s car. Bet­ter ask Joanne about that.

Fer­rari is ob­vi­ously touchy about this so the 2012 Cal­i­for­nia, due here in Novem­ber, has had a cred­i­bil­ity tweak. A new alu­minium space­frame and tub have pro­duced a lighter, more rigid body, though at 1630kg the Cali is still a heavy­weight by Fer­rari stan­dards. The 4.3-litre V8 gets an ex­tra 22kW, now pro­duc­ing 360kW.

Real men will spend an ex­tra $12,500 (or so— the price will be con­firmed in Novem­ber) for the Cal­i­for­nia HS.— Han­dling Speziale— which adds stiffer ad­justable sus­pen­sion set­tings and a sharper steer­ing rack.

The 4.3 is no po­lite, pol­ished, jet-like Ger­man turbo but a raw, gut­tural, manic thing that de­mands to be thrashed. The seven-speed F1-de­rived au­to­mated man­ual gear­box shifts so quickly you can run each gear to the 8000rpm red­line, where the V8 makes pure petrol­head porn noises, es­pe­cially with the roof down.

When you’ve got a full deck of flash­ing F1-style shift in­di­ca­tor lights at the top of the steer­ing wheel rim, you flick the wheel-mounted pad­dle (there’s no lever), and the next gear is en­gaged in a nanosec­ond, ac­com­pa­nied by a hearty chor­tle and a loud Crack! from the pipes. On down­shifts, it’s just as fast. En­gine and road speed revs are per­fectly matched and the ex­haust sig­nals you’re in gear with a sound like a ri­fle shot.

It’s true that the Cal­i­for­nia, even in HS spec­i­fi­ca­tion, isn’t the sharpest han­dling tool in Enzo’s shed. You can feel a slight im­bal­ance be­tween the in­stantly re­spon­sive front end and the heav­ier, slightly tardy rear when you hook it into a tight corner. How­ever you have to be a driver of heroic skill to find this car’s lim­its.

Its steer­ing is sur­pris­ingly light and supremely ac­cu­rate. The test car’s car­bon ceramic brakes had been given a hard time, which isn’t en­tirely un­ex­pected on a Fer­rari press car. The ride is hardly supple but it’s tol­er­a­ble and much less pun­ish­ing than your av­er­age pukka su­per­car.

Seven years’ worth of sched­uled ser­vic­ing is now in­cluded in the price.

To­day’s Fer­rari cabin is far re­moved from the Spar­tan man cave so beloved by the cognoscenti. The Cal­i­for­nia is beau­ti­ful, lux­u­ri­ous, equipped with all the con­nec­tiv­ity/au­dio/ nav­i­ga­tion mod-cons, wrapped in gor­geous Ital­ian leather and in­de­cently com­fort­able. You get a rear seat that can fit a cou­ple of small kids and a boot that, even with the roof stowed, can take the weekly shop­ping.

So if you’re a woman of means, go right ahead and buy your­self a Fer­rari Cal­i­for­nia. Along with ev­ery other bloke in Australia, I will be in­sanely jealous. And I’ll be sure to send Joanne your re­gards.

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