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Ferrari California


We put the Ferarri California to the test as a daily driver

Ferrari’s California initially seemed rather innocuous - "Just like a Corolla,” said my passenger. So I depressed the throttle, to release a snarl from below – “Er, no it isn't.”

But bar a rapid traverse of the bendiest neighbourhood road we treated it like one. For this entry-level car is billed as a Ferrari for the real world; bought to commute in or carry your comfort-loving spouse; for more than just club days, in other words. And the only way to test that claim is to use it as a daily driver.

So we went to the supermarket – the boot’s roomy enough roof down (240 litres) or up (340). We scrambled over the drop to the optician – the California’s not as ground-skimming as she looks. We popped to the dairy, parked at a local caff, reversed round building materials at a mate’s – and got it up my steeply sloping gravel drive.

All that torque and the fat rear tyres are good for more than just hoonery, though the California remained an exotic presence among the woodpiles and wet washing of a weekend of chores.

All round visibility is better than expected, though I’d recommend the optional rear vision camera. Rear seating room’s better than expected too. I ordered my 1.8-metre Mister back there. The shaped seats accommodated his knees; his feet slipped under the seat in front; and though his head sat above the window-line – you couldn’t do this with the roof up – he pronounced himself okay for short distances. You could take your friends out to dinner, or fit the kids back there, provided they have a sense of humour.

And a healthy ego – even a Ferrari this big and relatively soft turns heads. The school run became a scrum as kids took pics of the car and teachers rerranged their Lotto-win plans.

They’d need to. As standard, the California costs $442,750. But our test example retails at $510,036. Yes, those options add up fast. A yellow tacho, electrically adjustable seats, yellow brake calipers, cruise control, ipod, rear parking aid and extra leather took the price to $463,624. The 20-inch wheels, advanced front lighting, colour-matched safety belts, carbon fibre rear plate holder, reversing camera, and Magnaride dual mode shocks account for the rest. Ah, and that includes ten grand for the optional steering wheel. Yep, you can replace the stock item with a carbon fibre jobbie that includes an LED display which lights up as torque rises – change gear when the full arc is lit.

All this thought; half a million dollars of car; yet Ferrari didn’t fit a cover to the vanity mirror. That flicker in the peripheral vision annoys, and it seems somewhat cheap to omit it.

Still, that’s the only thing I complained about. Certainly the drive experience impressed – the California sticks to tarmac like wotsit to a blanket at well over silly speeds, yet it’s sufficiently cosseting in cruise mode to send my man to sleep.

It is, as promised, a truly Monday-to-Sunday prospect. Its lighter, more focused brethren may be quicker in the right conditions, but I know which I’d prefer on our strictly speed-limited roads.

Read more about the Ferarri California here.

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