The folding-roof Ferrari is an unlikely commuter but the smile comes standard
user-friendly. The California marks six decades of progress. It’s not the fastest, flashiest or filthiest Ferrari of recent times but it’s the ‘‘ nicest’’.
That’s why this story is about spending time behind the wheel.
Granted, it has a V8 (front mid-mounted behind the line of the front wheels) and it sings when prompted. Yes, it has a paddleshift gearbox (the first Ferrari to have one) so the shifts are smooth and sharp. It’s a droptop GT with (another first for Ferrari) a folding metal roof. Not that the weather (this was during the record-breaking rain in Sydney) let up enough for us to time its claimed 14-second operation.
But we’re not headed for winding, sweeping ribbons of tarmac away from the prying eyes of the Fun Police. Yet we know it goes, stops and handles, looks decent to most and has done ample to fatten Ferrari’s sales. But how does it go where most of us live?
Idling gently from the garage beneath the Ferrari showroom in inner Sydney, the city’s broken roads are felt but only distantly as the 2+2 (the rear seats are mainly for show) is taken through the inner-city rabbit warren.
Recent amusements in 458 models suggest a similar route in the two-seater would be more disturbed and more concerning when it came to preserving the snout’s splitter, but the folding hard-topped California has few of those issues.
It has real indicator stalks, too, which are a bonus when trying to change routes at the direction of the satnav. The V8 means slotting it into traffic is easy if a gap appears.
What would be cause for concern is the width, as Sydney’s traffic lanes feel skinnier in a normal car, let alone something 1902mm wide.
But precious little in the way of tantrums, tram-lining or trivial issues maligned the metropolitan drive. The USB cable would charge my iphone but failed to have the music player recognised on the car’s infotainment system (that could have been a revolt against AC/ DC on the sound system). Rear vision thanks to the high rump and narrow window isn’t great; neither is the twin-clutch automated manual at parking speeds on a slope.
Get it a little way out of town and, while not as nimble as the new Spider stablemate, the California is no slouch. Even in the wet it can hustle, within reason, but it never feels as if it’s