Ferrari California T sampled

By RIZAL JOHAN | 29 August 2014

You cannot hide from the sun when you are in Tuscany, Italy or the past for that matter.

It is as if time stood still here, unchanged in its architecture and landscape since the Middle Ages.

Initially, I thought it was a little ironic that I should be driving across this rustic region through its winding, twisting roads in the Prancing Horse’s new GT convertible California T (the T stands for turbo).


Afterall, the new turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 engine produces a whopping 560PS at 7,500rpm and a maximum torque of 755Nm at 4,750rpm.

On top of it, you have got modern creature comforts such as dual climate control, an infotainment system with 6.5in touch-screen display, satellite navigation, and there is even USB ports under the armrest.

But I realised later on that it was not so much irony but a balancing act.


To achieve that balance between progress while preserving its history and identity.

The California T strives for that balance because this model’s history goes back all the way to the 1950s.

For instance, there are classic elements in the California T’s body-design like the flanks which pay homage to the 250 Testa Rossa’s famous pontoon-fender styling.


The car was also designed as a daily driver but never lost sight of Ferrari’s sporty DNA like its propensity for high performance and blistering fast acceleration - it goes from 0-100kph in just 3.6 seconds!

At the same time, the new turbo technology has even managed to reduce the California T’s emissions by 20% and is now more fuel efficient.

Yes, you read that right.

You won’t be visiting petrol stations as much with this car.

Of course, this has more to do with adopting the technology from its latest F1 car because Ferrari owners, by and large, are not stingy on petrol money.


I definitely was not worried at all about running out of fuel during the drive and its 180km designated route.

Balancing its new turbo technology also meant that the engine still responds and sounds like a naturally aspirated Ferrari engine.

As traditional turbo systems suffer from quieter exhaust notes and a lag in throttle response, also known as turbo lag, the Ferrari engineers who briefed us the day before the drive said they had cracked the issue.

Otherwise it simply would not be a Ferrari experience now would it?


The very next morning on a clear blue summer’s day, driving with the top down, there was a straight stretch of road with no oncoming traffic and three cars ahead of me, I dropped down to second gear by engaging the long paddle shifters and floored the accelerator.

The delay was negligible as she, the California T, opened up her valves and her voice went shrill and quickly screamed past everything in the most exciting and exhilarating way.

The sound and the response was intoxicating and it was a long gear shift before moving up to third but by that time a sharp bend was imminent so I braked, and the engine revs dropped as she quieted down.


I slowed down myself because my senses were dulled for a moment but I regained my composure quickly and began laughing like a little boy whose birthday wish just came true.

How stable she was at high speeds and nimble around the corners.

The steering was very accurate and it had the right amount of weight to it, not too light or heavy.

Treat her gently and she purred; push her hard enough and the quad pipes roared like a jet engine and it felt like you were sitting in one too. But she was never overwhelming.


I liked the fact that, even in higher gears (the transmission is the F1, dual-clutch seven gears), there was always tonnes of power in reserve, waiting to do your bidding with no hesitation.

You could spend all day in her beautifully plush handcrafted cabin covered in black semi-aniline leather, red stitching and carbon fibre trim and not get tired of it; she’s built for both comfort and speed. And she is sensuous and elegant to look at.

Ferrari have achieved a fine balance in all aspects with the California T and since its predecessor, the California, was the best selling model in its range, its successor looks to be even more desirable.