All Articles
All Articles
TECH

Ferrari California Road Trip

TECH

Ferrari California Road Trip

by Evan Orensten
on 20 July 2009
Ferrari-California-Press-Drive-53.jpg

Ferrari invited us to San Diego to test drive the new Ferrari California, and I fortunately drew the lucky straw at our editor's meeting. We have always held Ferrari in great esteem for its dedication to design and innovation, but hadn't thought of ourselves as Ferrari enthusiasts. That's changed now that I've had the opportunity to spend a day with one of the most exciting new cars on the market. The California takes its place as Ferrari's entry level car, and was designed to fill out its offering in the Gran Turismo segment of the market. From its Ferrari DNA (inspired by the 1960 250 GT Spider California SWB) to its performance, innovation, looks and drivability it succeeds in every way.

New in just about every way, the California represents many firsts for Ferrari: It's the first retractable hard top (it weighs a mere 11 pounds and opens/closes in a mere 14 seconds, see video to the right). The first to have a complete aluminum unibody. The first front-mid mounted, direct-injection 4.3l V8. The first dual clutch 7-speed transmission. The first Ferrari with a pass-through trunk (and a trunk you can actually put stuff in, even with the top down). The first digital display. Ferrari hopes that in addition to pleasing its fiercely loyal clientele people who might otherwise consider an Aston Martin or Porsche 911 Turbo will be swayed the Maranello way.

ferrari_DSC00091.jpg

My co-pilot for the day, Michael Mraz (formerly the Managing Editor of Men's Vogue, an expert driver and master of the controls to the convertible top, as seen in the above video), and I decided to drive from San Diego to Santa Monica via Borrego Springs in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park (see photo opp on the left), Palm Desert and Malibu. We drove the first half, through amazing hairpin turns and desert flats with the top down. Our casual timing confirmed the 0-60 in under 4 seconds, and we hit a top speed of around 125. By the time we hit Palm Desert it was nearly 120° and after our Double Doubles (it's not a real California until it proudly wears an In-N-Out sticker, below) we put the top up and cranked the air conditioning until we made our way down Mulholland Drive. Michael's 6' 4", and he sat comfortably in the cabin with the top up.

ferrari_DSC00109.jpg

Driving the California was an incredible pleasure. From the moment you hit the "Start" button on the hearing wheel (listen to the engine of our car) you know you are in for an incredible ride. The California is all Ferrari, though it seduces you with its comfort, curves and ease-of-use.

I was expecting a very loud engine and a clutch you had to muscle your way through. The California purrs, not shouts, and its dual-clutch 7 speed transmission defaults to automatic, though can easily be controlled by the F1 style paddles on the steering wheel (which also contains the Manettino control for the suspension, the Start button, and the very awesome F1-inspired red LED lights across the top arc, which light up when you start to redline).

The cabin is luxuriously outfitted in leather and carpet and aluminum. Dark leather interiors feature a new treatment that can reduce the leather's temperature by 20° C/70°F. I was very impressed with the Bluetooth pairing process, which was easily followed with the helpful voice instruction and enabled me to phone a few friends and ask "Hey, calling from the California, just want to test out the Bluetooth. Can you hear me?" I know they could, but most of them hung up while shouting obscenities. The California comes with a rear bench or in a 2+2 (though the rear seats are better suited to groceries and pets than human passengers). Extras include the incredibly chic luggage which will set you back $3,211 for the bench set and $6,212 for the trunk set, though they are of course matched to your car's interior; the Ferrari car seat is a must if you are taking the kids to Gymboree. Need more? The California is part of Ferrari's Atelier program, allowing you to customize nearly all of the car's paint and finishings.

Ferrari-California-Press-Drive-02.jpg

The California isn't perfect, however. For nearly two hundred grand I'd like to see metal control knobs instead of plastic. I don't really need a cup holder, but if you're going to include one, it shouldn't feel inexpensive and wobbly. The navigation system, an improvement from other models, is still substantially inferior to what you'd expect to find in an automobile of this calibre. The vanity mirrors, requisite for primping for the constant stares of everyone around you, were plastic-y and small. These are very small grievances—trite even— but they do impact your overall day-to-day experience with the car.

Base price is $193,000 not including gas guzzler tax, destination, etc. Delivery started this spring in Europe, and the first few US-bound Californias were shipped by air to their impatient owners in June. Ferrari expects to deliver around 450 Californias to the US this year, and next year's production of 2,500 has yet to be allocated. Most of you will have to wait your place on the list, which is currently about two year's long. Learn more at the Ferrari California site.

View more photos after the jump

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public
Loading More...