Certainly the Ferrari California’s power output falls some way short of its stablemates, yet no one is likely to question the performance credentials of a car that will hit 60mph in 3.8sec. 

The reason the California manages such impressive numbers, despite its power-to-weight ratio, is in part a dual-clutch gearbox equipped with relatively short ratios, but also an ability to launch exceptionally well.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Ferrari’s dual-clutch gearbox is excellent and works well with the V8 engine

With a relatively soft set-up, sticky tyres and a particularly impressive launch control system, the California gets off the line with almost zero wheel slip. In gear, though, the California never feels quite as fast as the headline numbers suggest.

It is also worth remembering the weight of options when specifying your California. Ferrari supplied two cars for our review, one with few options weighing 1785kg, and one that was more lavishly specified and weighed 1905kg. 

Still, the California remains a fast road car and, perhaps more important for the target market, one that is easy to drive. Ferrari’s first application of a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is entirely successful. In automatic, the shifts are well timed and, with the possible exception of slow downchanges from cold, are as smooth as a conventional torque converter’s. There’s plenty of control in manual mode, too. 

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A less clear-cut issue is that of the engine note. At times it is certainly loud (on start-up and under load from low revs), at others suitably refined (at cruising speeds). But some of us missed the mechanical intensity and top-end wail present in Ferrari’s other V8 engines. 

As with all Ferraris, the California gets ceramic brake discs as standard. Like all such systems, pedal feel is not great from cold, but this improves with a little temperature. Outright stopping distances in both wet and dry are impressively short, and in track use the brakes stand up well to hard use.

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