Ferrari shocked the world back in 2008 when they revealed the California. Enthusiast were not happy with a front-V8 engine grand tourer and it was often referred as the women’s Ferrari. But, almost ten years later the California became a serious car and big competitor for the Porsche 911 and the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG.
According to the stats the California T is a step up compared to the old California, but does it really live up to these expectations? I guess you’ll find out in this article!
The first generation California has a front-mid placed 4.3-litre V8 with 453 bhp at 7,750 rpm. The California T features a 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 producing 553 bhp at 7,500 rpm. Although Ferrari mounted two turbos on the engine, it’s still a massive improvement we don’t get to see that often. Performance wise, the first gen California will take you from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in around 4 seconds. As for the California T it has a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time of 3.6 seconds. Both cars have the same top speed of 316 km/h (196 mph). I was lucky enough to experience both cars, but I wasn’t able to feel any huge differences between the two. The first gen California is a bit louder and the California T is a bit faster. I might have to drive both cars to sense more changes.
You may have noticed the California T isn’t just like any California T. That’s because it features the Handling Speciale package, an $8,000 dollar option introduced in early 2016 that gives you better handling. Big changes include reprogrammed magnetic dampers, stiffer springs (16% front – 19% back), a more aggressive sound track and an updated sport mode. The Handling Speciale option came to life when Ferrari wanted to fill the gap between the standard California T and the 488 GTB.
Both owners were kind enough to pick me up in my hometown, so at some point two Ferraris were parked in front of my place. Besides it being a pretty cool feeling to have two of these cars sitting right in front of your home, it also was a good opportunity to compare the two on a visual note. Most obvious design changes are the exhausts, the bonnet and the front lights as you can see on the pictures.
To answer the question I asked in the beginning, in my opinion Ferrari did a great job by optimizing the car. Don’t get me wrong, it still is a grand tourer but with a bit more power compared to the first generation California. I’m not sure which one I prefer in terms of design. I think the front of the original California looks better but the California T wins if it’s about the back. Personally, I never really understood why Ferrari placed the exhausts obliquely one above the other on the original car.