Not every Ferrari buyer has dreams of hot-lapping their local road course at 10/10s, or of strafing a canyon road at three times the speed limit, grinning maniacally as they pitch their car sideways in turn upon turn. Some Ferrari buyers simply want to enjoy the feel of sun on their face, wind in their hair and the song of a melodious V-8 bellowing its glorious aria.
If you fall into this category, the 2013 Ferrari California is likely to be the prancing horse that best meets your needs and expectations. In fact, we’d call it among the most practical cars in Ferrari’s lineup, as it can be configured with 2+2 seating and comes with a reasonable amount of trunk space and on-board storage.
Though we still think of the California as a relatively new model, it’s the oldest car in Ferrari’s current lineup. That means it misses out on some of the brand’s now-common design traits, like the narrow, upswept headlights and wide grille common to the 458 Italia, FF and F12 Berlinetta. That doesn’t diminish the 2013 Ferrari California’s appeal, since its classic roadster proportions and elegant lines allow the car to stand on its own, design-wise. While most roadsters manage to lose some of their grace when the top is up, the California’s power-folding hard top does nothing to detract from the car’s appearance.
Inside, the California rewards owners with surprising attention to detail and a quality feel that hasn’t always been present in cars bedecked with the prancing horse badge. Front seats are firm but comfortable, while the rear 2+2 seats are best reserved for children, pets or cargo. Overall, the interior may come across as plain to those accustomed to more ornamentation in the cockpit, but we’d call it a timeless design that won’t look tacky in ten years.
The real reason to buy a Ferrari lies beneath its hood, and the California is no exception to this rule. Its 4.3-liter V-8 gets a 30-horsepower bump in output for 2013, so it’s now rated at 490 hp and 373 pound-feet of torque. It’s also 30 kilograms (66 pounds) lighter than last year’s model, which cuts the 0-60 mph time down to 3.8 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 193 mph. As for transmission, the only choice available is a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic.
While no Ferrari can be panned as having sloppy handling, the California’s forte is not track days or autocross events, and the car is happiest when driven 10-percent or so below its (still substantial) limit. Those wanting sharper performance can opt for the new Handling Speciale package, which does help reduce body roll at the expense of ride comfort. Acceleration and braking potential are beyond reproach, and no sane owner will ever come close to probing the car’s limits on public roads.
Like all Ferrari models, personalization options are limited only by budget and the time you’re willing to commit to ordering the car. Even base models (if such a term applies to Ferrari) include navigation and USB connectivity, and cupholders are standard as a concession to U.S. buyers needs. New paint options for 2013 further complicate the order process, but buyers have little fear of encountering an identical California at the next Concorso Italiano.
For complete details on the 2013 Ferrari California, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection