Talk about exhilarating. The Ferrari California blows ‘happy’ off the charts. My pupils dilate just looking at it. Sitting in it gives me the chills and driving it is pure ecstasy. Using the classic 250 California of 1957 as their inspiration, Ferrari put on their evolution hats and crafted their first 7-speed, first retractable hard-top and first front-mid engine.
Cars like these make me happy to be alive. At $220,000 this super-toy is decked out in top-shelf, couture inside and out. It’s a pampering 1-million times better than any pedicure. In fact, five seconds after getting inside, I blurted, “This is easy to get used to.” The 460 horsepower engine is a V8, not a V12, which helps it get 21 mpg on the highway. Not too shabby for a rocket ship. Other goodies are the sporty leather seats, the 200 mph speed, it shoots to 60 mph in under 4 seconds, has outstanding stability and traction with the F1-track (F1 style shifting apparently shifts 20% faster than traditional transmissions), the hard top retracts in only 14 seconds, and the 6.5 inch touch screen infotainment system is large enough to clearly see the route to the beach in between playing Legally Blonde for your girlfriend sitting next to you.
As a female driver, I immediately noticed that it doesn’t feel like a man’s car. It could be a man’s car, but it doesn’t have to be. The driver seat perfectly cradled my frame, with no need for major adjustments to get comfortable. The interior is welcoming, comfortable and luxurious. The ride is smooth and responsive with unrelenting stability. The sound of the engine is a turn-on and the muscle behind it is undeniable. Who needs a boyfriend when you’ve got Ferrari?
It sounds unfair to say, but even the bare of sitting at a red light morphs into a pleasant experience. Part of the charm of being behind the wheel is that the engine idles patiently. Lag or hesitation doesn’t exist in this world and it’s pretty evident that this machine is built to go. Whenever the light turned green, I never got tired of smiling. Super-fast acceleration better call-for equally impressive brake speed, and this car reciprocates with even larger, lighter, Brembo brakes and carbon-ceramic disks. Yummy.
I also appreciate how everything has its place. Every feature and gadget in this car looks neat and clean and is easy to read. There’s a button named “launch”, for the option to drive safely at higher RPMs. The F1 paddle shifting behind the wheel is fun and easy to use. I actually said, “Weeeee!” turning left on a local road. Going in reverse is as easy as a push of a button aptly labeled “R”. The car beeps – as if you weren’t attracting enough attention to yourself – then simply use the paddle shifter on the right hand side to up-shift back into drive. Nice and simple. There’s also an option to drive in automatic mode. Women love having options, and this one is perfect for those days when we just don’t want to deal.
The trunk space (12 cu ft with top down) will fit luggage for a weekend getaway for two low-maintenance people. For the first time, you could probably even fit your beach umbrella by using the new fold-down rear seat backs; a feature that’s starting to blur the idea that all of the space in super cars is allotted for the engine only. Even the retracted hard top takes up minimal space. The only folks who might feel cramped are the ones sitting in the small rear seats, as seating for the entire vehicle is considered to be a 2+ configuration. At 5 foot 4 inches, I would be comfortable sitting back there, but a taller person’s knees would rub against the back seat. However, if such a person actually complained, I’d recommend Ferrari create a neatly placed “E” button to eject said passenger.
The mechanics of the retractable hard top are brilliant. With the push of a button, the top goes up or down effortlessly, quietly and with fluid precision. I put the top up as it started to drizzle during our video shoot, not thinking about the spectacle I was making for onlookers. They weren’t just looking at the Ferrari; they actually stopped what they were doing to watch the hard top do its thing. It’s a work of art in motion.
I guess the no brainer is, no matter what, the California is bound to get noticed. Like a red, patent leather Stuart Weitzman stiletto among a pile of flip-flops. More importantly, sitting behind the wheel feels like the most natural thing on the planet. The thrills of driving this car are intense. It’s an elaborate, beautiful and fantastic piece of machinery built to satiate the most basic sensations of being alive. It’s the most fun ride an adult could ask for.
- Everything the soul craves bundled into a super-hot, super-fast, supercar.
- If I had the money, I’d be driving one right now.