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Old 10th November 2008, 02:17   #1
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Question Ferrari California Impressions

Ferrari devotees, listen up. Ferrari has designed a model as homage to the 1960s Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider. Okay, let me stop you before you get carried away. It costs £143,000 and in my opinion, it isn’t worth the buy. Crawford mentioned that anyone who was inclined towards the Lamborghini would undoubtedly like this Ferrari California. You are incorrect mate. Sure, you might find it attractive while you first set sight on it. But, trust me readers, when you see it, it’s not the car’s looks that is driving your mind nuts. It is the badge and the sound (to a certain extent). So, after I was over that stage, I took her out for a short walk.

The nose looks good. It reminds me of the original 250 California and the 575. And, just as I squat down near its nostrils, I remembered the Maserati Gran Turismo. The folding hard top of the car leaves a big and obvious rump at the aft making its looks like a female figure. These slightly odd proportions might take time to get used to. As of me, I couldn’t digest it even after a couple of hours. The stacked exhausts bring a weird expression on your face. But, as you keep staring at it, you begin to think, “That’s all right, isn’t it?” aka you begin to compromise for the £143,000 you’ve just signed off. But, don’t stare too much, it’s a female, remember.

Now, when you are shelling out £143,000, you surely wouldn’t want to catch a glimpse of the screw heads used to produce the car you are in. This Ferrari has its screw heads exposed. You also wouldn’t want to see a flimsy centre console. But, you do. You would definitely want a finished product. But, the heater controls are due completion. Now, there were finishing issues with the Scuderia as well. But, I said nothing. Why? It was because that was primarily a track car. But, this isn’t. Tight leatherwork, aluminium buttress on the centre console and the hardtop that will fold itself in 14 seconds are all fine. But, why didn’t they stop and think while adding a Ferrari badge to it? If this were a Daihatsu, it would still be acceptable. It would even be appreciated. But, certainly not in a Ferrari.

Since this isn’t a track car, not much is expected in its handling department. Nevertheless, it rides well and handles okay. Magneto-rheological aka magnetic dampers that are an optional with the car, marks the equilibrium between smooth ride and fine handling. The new 7-speed gearbox with two clutches allows rapid shifts like the 430’s F1 superfast g’box. This 4.3 litre, direct-injection V8 with F1 Trac traction control system producing 454hp and 358 lb-ft that is mid-front mounted (Ferrari’s first) will do 60mph in 3.9 seconds. It is claimed that this 1735 kg weighing Ferrari will go up to 192mph. In a way, the sound it produces makes you excuse the comparatively poor styling aka you begin to compromise for the £143,000 you’ve paid. Can I just add that F430 rooters will dislike the sound, as it is a slightly lowered bass and treble version of the 430 that you can hear in the California.

As you must have noticed, I am re-mentioning the price tag quite often here. That price is just for starters. If you want the clever dampers, you spend an extra £3100. But, then that wouldn’t be a problem for potential Ferrari buyers to add another £20K for all the options offered. And, I reckon this will be successful too as the car is already sold out till 2010. But, exactly, why will it be successful?

My argument is that Ferrari is a synonym for perfection. In their track cars, they were aggressive in style and aggressive in performance. In their road cars, they were flamboyant in style and flamboyant in performance. Most of the times, they would be a mixture of both these characteristics as a typical Ferrari should be. A Ferrari road-legal car must look disciplined but should perform like as if on steroids. Mostly, the blend would be perfect. But, in the California, it just doesn’t go well altogether. Excuse me for being a snob henceforth.

Even before I talk about the bland driving, I can not get past the exterior looks. I am sorry; it slightly bears similarities with the Hyundai Coupe. It seems like an accidently made car. Pininfarina design studios reveal taking a lot of time designing this car. Ferrari chief Amedeo Felisa said that the similarity with the old 250 and California is “purely coincidental”. It is also learnt that building it wasn’t in their agenda. But, since the similarities were spotted they made it anyway. Accidently made?!

The California could be called civilised, but when it comes to driving, it is boring. It should have been made beefier in weight as it does get twitchy at medium-high speeds. And, the steering ratio should have been made faster. Also, I disagree to classify it as a GT car because uncharacteristically, it dances over bumps and jerks even at medium speeds. In my opinion, this is the first Ferrari you could leave outdoors without caring much about it. That is, the first Ferrari that will make you less insecure or not insecure at all. You will not be worried about any jealous vandalism because unlike any other Ferrari none will bother about the car. Well, yes, since it is new, people may drive by to have a look. But, that’s about it. And, that is not good. I would imagine that guvs would buy it as they would love to answer to this question – “So, what are you driving these days?” by replying, “A Ferrari, the new one”. The brand name will undoubtedly add a feather to the hat. But,it will never make you feel special and smug like when in a 430. The 430 looked civilised, made you feel insecure and whenever you were in a mood of being naughty, it played along. But, this just doesn’t.

This is probably a perfect weekender’s car then. Why not? It has a gas mileage of around 20mpg and the ride is comfortable, thanks to the comfort mode offered by the clever dampers. Huh, I am not entirely sure. I believe when you go for a weekend, you go along with your family and friends. To simply throw it; the rear-leg room is inadequate. I mean, if you are going to the supermarket, and if your kids are still “kids” and if your friends aren’t tall, only then they could stretch their legs and feel comfortable in the back. But, what if these checklists aren’t ticked off?

Many experts said so and I agree that this isn’t a car that demands attention. But, then I was under the impression that Ferraris are supposed to do just that. Ferraris are cars with a high posing potential. And, then they must move on to prove that they aren’t all show and no go. But, this one doesn’t even look good nor does it perform great.

Therefore, this is ideally a Ferrari for females. Nope, not because it doesn’t look good and perform great. Women who are authoritative and have a high-post in the society will have their demands fulfilled by this car. Despite the mistakes spotted earlier, it has a fine degree of craftsmanship. Pardon me; they may be the new style conventions that I am unaware of. And, the manufacturers’ badge makes its presence quite obvious. Since, females do not demand precise handling unless it is Sabina Schmitz, this car is all right for them. It is less track-oriented and more on the comfortable side of driving. The chromed embossed California on the glove box is undoubtedly girly. The limited rear-leg room could suit as a baby seat. The 360 litre boot space (240litre with the roof folded) is still good for the shopping bags and the ridiculously expensive Ferrari tailored luggage. And, the stroller, of course. Perhaps, the golf clubs too? As Baker said, with the roof down, you can cruise around in 7th gear and get yourself tanned before you hit the beach. So, this might be successful because it is targeting the women of today’s world.

How much ever I try to like this car, I fail to do so. I am sorry but its disproportionate looks are a stylistic mess to me. It is probably because we have always visualised a Ferrari to be fast, impractical (a few models) and a beautiful and stylish – a handsome/sexy car. We never thought of it like an easy to drive stylish car. The California is more stylish than performance oriented. Do you notice? Instead of staying on the same level, style precedes performance. That inexcusable factor makes me dislike it. But, then I reckon it is the expectation, the over expectation that affects or hampers the experience with cars overall. Hmm, still, I don’t like it. For a cheaper price, I would rather purchase a Gallardo Spider instead of a Californicated Ferrari. To me, this car seems like a travesty after being a Ferrari and being priced so high.

To me, this is then rightly a female’s Ferrari. This is the car Trixie will drive and not her boy friend, if you know what I mean. In that case, it is genuinely impressive. Like a Porsche Boxster. It has generally been believed that whoever could not afford a manly, a more expensive, a better Porsche, and the ones who did not know that the Boxster was often teased as a female’s Porsche, ultimately bought a Boxster. There is only one defence with your Ferrari California. You can snub all those who spot mistakes in it by saying, “It is still a Ferrari”.

(Images at Ferrari Galleria, Hills Borough, Sydney and Paris International show and Italy)
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Old 10th November 2008, 06:28   #2
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Mods - If this isn't, then please move the topic to appropriate forum section.
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Old 10th November 2008, 10:50   #3
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Damn, thats a harsh review, but seems honest nonethless. Thanks for sharing your experience, it's always fun to read.

I was disappointed too when the california pics were released,however I hoped that the driving experience would make up for the design. But i guess not.

I too would pick the gallardo. What is the exact price diff?
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Old 10th November 2008, 11:04   #4
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Ferrari are yet to release the California to dealers or potential owners. So far, only noted journalists have been allowed to drive these and that too at Maranello. Considering you are in Australia and cannot drive an LHD car unless you are the US secret service/ military and also your pics are never first hand leads me to conclude that this review is merely an armchair one
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Old 10th November 2008, 11:08   #5
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Hey there, we were not sure whether this was the section for this review or not. Since, we did not get a response, we thought we probably were at the wrong section.

Well, it is a harsh review as it has hurt our expectations/feelings. Thanks for reading and appreciating.

Yes, the looks are disappointing. And, I distinctly recall a few of our members debating that the performance or the sound alone will change our minds. But, nope it failed to do so. Some said that it could be pasted under the "What were they thinking?" wall. But, we reckon it is just a shift of audience profiles. Like Porsche, Lambo and Aston Martin coming up with 4-door cars.

Yes, for a price tag of 131,000 - 135,000 pounds (inclusive of delivery), the Gallardo Spider is much more fun to drive. So, the difference is 12,000 pounds. Mind you, the difference is similar even with the extras.
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Old 10th November 2008, 12:49   #6
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From the front it looks little bit like MR2. Looks not so good and is supposed to be a everyday car, then why this Ferrari ?
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Old 10th November 2008, 13:07   #7
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@ajmat - Hey there, thanks for reading. We knew a person who gave us a drive in it. Hence, we mentioned it as a "short walk". Besides, we did not perform a performance test. We even don't firmly call it a TD. Hence, we call it "impressions".

@srishiva - Hey there, thanks for reading. Very well said.
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Old 10th November 2008, 23:15   #8
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I have enjoyed your earlier reviews, but this one smacks of bias. And yes, I am a Ferrari fan.

Since when was legroom in a 2-door convertible of any consequence? I can reel of a number of cars which are similar.

It looks like you guys spent too little time with the car, not that it would have changed your opinion. Anyways, I will take this review with a pinch of salt.
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Old 11th November 2008, 00:47   #9
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@kuttapan - Hey there, thanks for reading. Bias?! It is more of disappointment. Since you are a Ferrari fan, you must have felt bad. But, so have us, as we have appreciated them in the past.

Being a Ferrari, all aspects have always been expected to be nothing short of perfection. That is why the leg room factor was stressed upon. Even we can "reel" upon a number of cars that are on the same line. We have mentioned the expectation factor in the review as well. Have a read again.

Yes, we guys spent less time on the car as it is been restricted. But, as it is mainly sold as a GT car, experiencing it on normal driving road conditions gave a lot of feedback.

No offence meant. But, it is still sad.
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Old 11th November 2008, 01:47   #10
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I'm an ardent Lambo fan, but somehow the California hits some soft spot in me. Was hoping that it would be substancially cheaper than the Gallardo, somewhere close to the Maserati GT.

I am planning to get a car in this segment some time soon in the US [love the discounts being offered now]
I kinda like the way the California looks. And hence it was a contender, but the price premium over the Gallardo is too much. Oh well Maserati GT it is, cheapest of the lot

But on a more serious note, Ferrari never intended on the California being a track scorcher. Hell it's a downright GT, it should bring some style to the table. This is supposed to be Ferraris "budget" model...
So I guess it should be judged in that way. Don't compare it to the F430, 599 or 612...
Compare it to the Porsche Carrera, Maserati GT, Bently GTC [In terms of cruising], Jag XK, Aston Martin Vantage etc...
It's a highway cruiser, not a race car...

cheers:
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Old 11th November 2008, 02:01   #11
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@DocG - Hey there, thanks for reading.

Reviews are like point of views. We disliked the looks and hence mentioned it in our impressions about the car. The Maserati is a fine car.

We realise that this is a shift from track cars to GT variants. We have pointed it out in our thoughts above. But, you see, the car unlike a GT doesn't sit firmly over bumps. You could call it a highway cruiser. And, in that respects the Maserati is still good as like one would want in a GT car, it has good leg room. Or, the Alfa Romeo 8C?

We have not "compared" it to the earlier Ferrari's in full essence. We have merely pointed out their taste of perfection so far. We seriously reckon it is better of being with any other GT car unless you want to have a Ferrari.

As mentioned, we did not expect it to behave like a "race car" but strictly, as a GT car.

No offence meant.
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Old 11th November 2008, 03:05   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brosreview View Post
@kuttapan - Hey there, thanks for reading. Bias?! It is more of disappointment. Since you are a Ferrari fan, you must have felt bad. But, so have us, as we have appreciated them in the past.

Being a Ferrari, all aspects have always been expected to be nothing short of perfection. That is why the leg room factor was stressed upon. Even we can "reel" upon a number of cars that are on the same line. We have mentioned the expectation factor in the review as well. Have a read again.

Yes, we guys spent less time on the car as it is been restricted. But, as it is mainly sold as a GT car, experiencing it on normal driving road conditions gave a lot of feedback.

No offence meant. But, it is still sad.
Agreed that review is a point of view. Understood the part about expecting perfection from a Ferrari too.

But I still cannot fathom "the perfect legroom" factor. What is the perfect legroom in a hard top convertible then? Or do you mean to say that Ferrari should have extended the wheelbase by some 10 inches, so that a 6 foot tall man could sit comfortably? C'mon, this isn't the Lincoln Towncar that we are talking about. I see no sense in talking about legroom in this car, hence my comment about bias. Reading the review again, it is almost as if you guys are nitpicking. While I agree that this isn't the best to come out of the Ferrari stables yet, one feels that you have been a little uncharitable in the review. Comparing it to a Daihatsu, and then a Hyundai? You really know how to put down a Ferrari, don't you?

Just for us Ferrari fans, I hope you do another review, after spending some more time with the car.
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Old 11th November 2008, 03:25   #13
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@kuttapan - Hey there, if there are rear-seats, there is bound to be room to fit legs into. If they provide rear seats and absolutely no space to fit your legs into rather than stretching them along the seat, then it has to be pointed out.

Again, it is not a review. There is a difference between impressions and reviews. It is hard to comprehend the "nitpicking" factor. What to you sounds "nitpicking" sounds valid to some other readers. So, that is just the way one perceives it.

Being charitable with the car just because it is a Ferrari is something we do not agree to. We reckon in years that we have reviewed a Ferrari, this has the only one we have been seriously sad with.

It was the finishing issues and the exposed screw heads that we compared to the Daihatsu. Kindly do not get the comment wrong. We have admitted it being the new style norms that we are unaware of. The slight similarity pointed out between the Hyundai and this car is subjective.

We have driven, loved and appreciated the Ferraris. Hence, we have an expectation level set for them. But, that does not mean we say "Bravo" to all that they come up with cause that would mean we are just being nice and not honest in expressing ourselves.

Doing a review will be quite late from now due to availability. That is why we strictly call this our impressions which "may" change when we test it vigorously. If you have read our review on the Evo X, you must have noticed that we started off with a confession.

Again, kuttapan, we know what you are going through as an avid Ferrari fan. No offence meant.

Last edited by Brosreview : 11th November 2008 at 03:26.
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Old 11th November 2008, 03:36   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brosreview View Post
Being charitable with the car just because it is a Ferrari is something we do not agree to. We reckon in years that we have reviewed a Ferrari, this has the only one we have been seriously sad with.
Perfect-O. I understand that you don't have to be charitable to a particular badge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brosreview View Post
Again, kuttapan, we know what you are going through as an avid Ferrari fan. No offence meant.
C'mon, you do not have to say "No offence" in each of your replies. Nothing here is personal - each of us have our POV, that's all. I do not agree to yours in this case, but enjoy all your reviews nevertheless. Especially your writing style.
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Old 11th November 2008, 05:04   #15
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Another stellar review.
And yes, i am disappointed. The first time i saw pictures of the california, i was disappointed, yet i hoped that it will have its saving grace, a party piece. Now that i've read your impressions, disappointed again. I wonder if you will change your mind when you test it a bit longer, but to be honest, i dont feel "desire" for this car, and that, in essence, is what's wrong with it, and what kills it for me.

I've been ranting on how Ferrari doesn't make cars nearly as good looking as the old ones anymore, for a long time.
I've also come across many people who are guilty of favouring a new rollout from maranello, not because it's a great car, but because it's a Ferrari.
I guess it has something to do with the badge being such an icon...
As always, a bit confused when it comes to the issue of new ferrari's.

Last edited by Amien : 11th November 2008 at 05:08.
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