That Cali feel­ing

Fer­rari’s Cal­i­for­nia T may be aimed at a slightly dif­fer­ent mind­set Than The lithe 488, but in its dna is The story of a leg­end

Virtuozity - - Automobiles -

To car lovers, the name Fer­rari con­jures up many im­ages, from lithe, mid-en­gine su­per­cars, to fire-breath­ing, iconic hy­per cars. But in truth, for much of its his­tory, Fer­rari was the past mas­ter at cre­at­ing some­thing rather dif­fer­ent. Go back to the late ‘six­ties and early ‘sev­en­ties, and Fer­raris were as much a part of a boule­vardier’s style arse­nal as a track-ready weapon.

Yes, enzo Fer­rari un­der­stood the ‘race on sun­day, sell on Mon­day’ adage, but he also knew his cus­tomers. The rich and fa­mous who bought his cars wanted to be seen, and wanted to look good whilst be­ing seen. so al­though many were de­signed al­most ex­clu­sively for the track, many more were more road-fo­cused, al­beit with that Fer­rari power lurk­ing un­der the hood.

Through­out the ‘six­ties, Fer­rari churned out a long list of sim­ply stun­ning open-top cars. These con­vert­ibles were built for men wear­ing Ja­son King sun­glasses, usu­ally ac­com­pa­nied by a beau­ti­ful fe­male com­pan­ion, wear­ing deep red lip­stick and a Her­mès head­scarf. They were just as likely to be seen pot­ter­ing along at 10 km/h in the cen­tre of Monaco, as they were do­ing over the met­ric tonne on the early high­ways of europe.

Prob­a­bly the most fa­mous of these was the iconic (and now fe­ro­ciously ex­pen­sive) 250 cal­i­for­nia, which was de­signed by scagli­etti in a mo­ment of sheer bril­liance. The v12-en­gined 250 was an exquisitely de­signed two-seater spi­der, with some of the great­est lines of any car ever pro­duced. Built in 1957, it has since be­come

noth­ing ‘low-pow­ered’ about it, with the car boast­ing 453 horse­power and 485 Nm of torque at launch.

Then in 2014, the present gen­er­a­tion Cal­i­for­nia T was launched, with a new 552 BHP, 3.9-litre, tur­bocharged V8, mark­ing the first tur­bocharged car from Maranello since the 1987 re­lease of the stun­ning F40 su­per­car.

Try­ing one out in Dubai in mid-sum­mer can’t be the the wis­est choice, but with tem­per­a­tures drop­ping a lit­tle at night, I also had a few fleet­ing roof-down mo­ments as well.

Any­one who has sam­pled Maranello’s other prod­ucts will be sur­prised by the T, as it’s quite a dif­fer­ent beast. It’s more cruiser than bruiser, and cer­tainly has a more se­date drive than, say, a 488 or F12. Yes, it’s very quick, but it doesn’t have that punch and elec­tri­fy­ing de­liv­ery that you get from Fer­rari’s other cars. It’s clearly aimed at those who want to en­joy the drive, rather than those who feel like get­ting there be­fore they’ve even left.

The power de­liv­ery is smooth, de­spite the turbo, with lit­tle no­tice­able lag. I’ve never liked tur­bocharged cars, but the T doesn’t feel like a turbo, so the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence isn’t tainted by the all-or-noth­ing de­liv­ery of many cars with forced in­duc­tion.

The Cal­i­for­nia T sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.6 sec­onds flat and from 0 to 200 km/h in 11.2 sec­onds. It is also more fuel-ef­fi­cient, to the tune of ap­prox­i­mately 15 per cent, in com­par­i­son to the pre­vi­ous Cal­i­for­nia. The han­dling is, of course, ex­cel­lent, with a lovely front/rear bal­ance. It also has huge brakes, which al­low you to push things per­haps a lit­tle fur­ther than you should.

The in­te­rior is sim­ply stun­ning and hard to fault. Some of the elec­tronic in­ter­faces aren’t as re­solved as the big Ger­man brands, but it all works and won’t up­set you. As with all cur­rent Fer­raris, I can’t stand the steer­ing wheel-mounted in­di­ca­tors. For me, they just don’t work in the real world, away from the race­track.

The big­gest change to the Cal­i­for­nia T over its pre­de­ces­sor is the rear de­sign. The ear­lier model had a lovely nose and flanks, but the rear wasn’t the pret­ti­est. It was too high, too big and didn’t project the el­e­gance the brand is fa­mous for. The new car’s rear de­sign, how­ever, has been fixed in the flick of the de­signer’s pen. The new T has a stun­ning rear end, which com­pli­ments the rest of the car’s sleek de­sign. There re­ally isn’t a line I don’t like, re­gard­less of whether you have the roof up or down.

This is a sim­pler in­tro­duc­tion to Italy’s most fa­mous logo, al­beit with the pace and looks we’ve come to ex­pect. It’s a lot eas­ier to live with in com­par­i­son to a mid-en­gined car, and this model ac­tu­ally has room for two small peo­ple in the rear, open­ing up the brand to pre­vi­ously ex­cluded cus­tomers.

And that’s re­ally the story of the T. It’s part of that ‘Six­ties ethos of roof-down, easy-to-live-with, per­for­mance motor­ing. And just like the orig­i­nal Cal­i­for­nia mod­els, given an open road and a will­ing driver, it can still kick up its heels and live up to the badge on the bon­net.

So it might be hot out­side, but now there’s no ex­cuse for not slip­ping on your mir­rored sun­glasses and get­ting the wind in your ‘Six­ties hair­style.

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