The Cal­i­for­nia T is one of the Fer­rari’s lat­est turbo-charged cars, but has it dulled the ex­pe­ri­ence? James Bag­gott finds out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY JAMES BAG­GOTT


Meet the Cal­i­for­nia T HS — the tweaked ver­sion of the man­u­fac­turer’s fold­ing hard-top fam­ily Fer­rari. With two seats in the back for small chil­dren and a V8 turbo-charged lump up front, this is the con­vert­ible Ital­ian su­per­car for those that need to carry more than one sig­nif­i­cant other.

New for the Han­dling Spe­ciale model are some stiffer springs, louder ex­haust and some ever-so-sub­tle de­sign tweaks — which you’ll be charged £5,568 to add to an ever-ex­pand­ing list of op­tions.


The Cal­i­for­nia is aimed at a cer­tain type of buyer and, as such, it has the abil­ity to dis­ap­point be­hind the wheel, un­less you drive it in con­text. This is a GT car de­signed for com­fort, looks and kerb ap­peal much be­fore driv­ing en­ter­tain­ment, un­like its thor­ough­bred 488 sta­ble mate. That means it’s more com­fort­able than ex­cit­ing to drive.

Even with the louder ex­haust sys­tem on this HS model, on the road we found it just a lit­tle too quiet.

In fact, we found the Cal­i­for­nia lacked a lot of the ex­cite­ment you’d ex­pect to find in a Fer­rari — de­spite its im­pres­sive per­for­mance cre­den­tials, it just didn’t feel as in­volv­ing as we’d hoped.

That said, it was cer­tainly a com­fort­able com­pan­ion over dis­tance and never failed to draw a crowd when­ever we parked it up. The qual­ity of its build is with­out ques­tion too — per­fectly demon­strated with a won­der­fully dra­matic roof mech­a­nism.


OK, so a Fer­rari isn’t go­ing to win any ac­ces­si­bil­ity awards like a Citroen Berlingo might, how­ever this is a sports car and comes with sports car com­pro­mises. Put the front seats back to any­thing less than a knee crush­ing po­si­tion and you lose all rear legroom — which means even car­ry­ing a fiveyear-old re­quires the front seat pas­sen­gers to per­form some gym­nas­tics for the jour­ney.

The boot is pretty cramped too. If you don’t want to use the roof, you get a lit­tle more space, but if you do, then you’ll be re­stricted to two small bags at best. Weekly shop­per, this isn’t.


For long-dis­tance mo­tor­way jour­neys, the Cal­i­for­nia T HS is a comfy drive. The 552bhp turbo-charged V8 has im­pres­sive breadth to its power de­liv­ery and al­though the feel­ing of ac­cel­er­a­tion is some­what numbed in the cabin, it can hit 60mph in just 3.6 sec­onds.

Sadly, the turbo en­gine loses some of the charms of a nor­mally as­pi­rated unit — it may of­fer im­proved per­for­mance, but lacks some of the au­ral plea­sure you ex­pect from a Fer­rari.

Those stiffer springs and louder ex­haust come into play when you se­lect the ‘Sport’ set­ting on the manet­tino switch on the steer­ing wheel.

Hit the bumpy road but­ton on the steer­ing wheel too and you’ll be re­warded with a com­pli­ant ride that’s just about per­fect for our rut­ted roads. A park­ing cam­era makes back­ing the Fer­rari into spa­ces a pretty sim­ple af­fair and de­spite its sports car cre­den­tials, the vis­i­bil­ity isn’t too bad ei­ther.


The Cal­i­for­nia T Han­dling Spe­ciale costs £155,244 — pitch­ing it against the Audi R8 Spy­der and Porsche 911 Turbo Cabri­o­let, but that base price soon in­creases once you start tick­ing some op­tions boxes. Two-tone ex­te­rior (£4,320), car­bon fi­bre dash in­serts (£3,744), Scud­e­ria Fer­rari side shields (£1,056) and front and rear park­ing cam­eras (£4,032) are just a few of the op­tions that can soon add up.

In fact, our test car had no less than 29 op­tions added — in­clud­ing ti­ta­nium wheel bolts at £1,810 — which pushed the purchase price up to a stag­ger­ing £215,011. That’s a whop­ping £59,767 on ex­tras.

One well worth adding, though, is Ap­ple Carplay (£2,400) which makes the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem far more us­able. Fer­rari’s stan­dard sys­tem isn’t a match for the likes of Audi or Porsche, so the ad­di­tion of Ap­ple’s in­te­grated soft­ware is well worth select­ing.


Cal­i­for­nia buy­ers are fam­ily men or women who need the oc­ca­sional flex­i­bil­ity of car­ry­ing more than one pas­sen­ger. OK, so that might mean com­pro­mis­ing on space for ev­ery­one, but at least there’s the op­tion there should they need it.

The Fer­rari Calafor­nia T Han­dling Spe­ciale not only looks fan­tas­tic on the out­side and has a huge amount of op­tional ex­tras to make the in­side just as im­pres­sive too

The in­te­rior is sleek and stylish, but not par­tic­u­larly spa­cious if there is more than one pas­sen­ger

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