Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Adrian Wong
The first Ferrari I drove was the California two years ago and within that short span of time, the California has continued evolving. Now named the California 30, it has gone 30kg lighter and 30 horsepower quicker – resulting in a more efficient power-to-weight ratio.
Launched in 2008 at the Paris Motor Show, the California is a 2+2 two-door hardtop convertible. Making the fourth model range for the company, this grand touring sports car held a lot of firsts for Ferrari. For example, it is Ferrari’s first front-engined V8, first 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, the first folding metal roof, the first with multi-link rear suspension and also direct petrol injection.
Undergoing a weight loss and engine tuning mission, Scaglietti, coach builder and designer of the California body, took 30kg off from the body, while the engine was tuned for better performance levels with the increase of 30bhp. Advanced technologies in aluminium fabrication and construction techniques resulted in a lighter chassis, with no compromise on structural rigidity.
Now delivering 490bhp and 505Nm (increase of 15Nm) at its maximum with new exhaust manifolds and engine mapping, the California 30 takes just 3.8 seconds to get from a standstill to 100km/h, previously taking 3.9 seconds. With an enhanced torque curve coupled with a generous rev range, the California 30 is perkier in step now.
New for the California 30 is the Handling Speciale Package that reduces body roll and improves driver response with things such as magnetorheological dampers, stiffer springs for better steering response, as well as a faster ECU for 50 per cent quicker response.
The car feels sportier compared to before, but it still retains its comfort and practicality. Although it is of a 2+2 configuration, the back seats are best left for toddlers or storing your bags; otherwise keep the journey short so the person in the back will not feel too claustrophobic.
Although the California 30 remains the entry-level model of the Ferrari range, the appeal of the badge is still strong and heads do turn at the sight and sound of it. It is after all, still a prancing horse and not something that everybody can afford, especially in light of the prevailing COE (Certificate of Entitlement) prices in Singapore.
The weather in this part of the tropical world has been rather punishing lately and not the most favourable for bringing the roof down, so I only had it down for a while. It takes 14 seconds to change the California from a coupe to a convertible – a pretty acceptable time compared to others. I was starting to perspire and the haze was kicking in, so for much of my California 30 test drive I thought better and kept the roof up.
The interior the California 30 remains unchanged and I’ve always liked how minimalist the Ferrari cabin is, with a simple centre console of clearly-labelled dials and buttons.
Controlled by steering-mounted paddle shifts instead of a traditional gear lever, pulling both paddles back at the same time sets the car in neutral, while pulling back the ‘+’ paddle engages gear of the rear-mounted seven-speed swift-shifting dual-clutch gearbox.
To reverse, simply press on ‘R’ on the centre console. There is a Launch button for launch control from stationary, but that is not a button you would use for daily commuting.
There is a button on the right bottom end of the steering wheel where you can switch between Comfort, Sport and ESC Off. It’s called the ‘manettino’ and you can make the switch anytime while driving. Depending on whom you are fetching and where you are going, you have this choice of driving settings to accommodate to your journey. For example, I would choose Comfort if I had passengers with me and we are just cruising between destinations. However, if I am driving alone, I would choose Sport mode so I can have the car stiffened for some sporty driving.
Some people say that the California is targeted at women and is more of a ladies’ car, hence making a Ferrari suitable for the wives and girlfriends of Ferrari owners. Personally, I feel that the California has been engineered in a way to make it usable for daily driving and less of a weekend supercar.
By doing that, it extends its target audience to the ladies’ segment but that does not mean it is meant more for the women. It still has the usual prancing horse edge and gives you the kick when you ask for it. Any woman though, would not complain of weight loss and improved performance.
Ferrari California 30 – Technical Specifications
Engine: 4297cc V8 GDI
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
Max Power: 490bhp at 7,750rpm
Max Torque: 505Nm at 5,000rpm
Top Speed: 312km/h
0-100km/h: 3.8 secs
Price: SGD 758,000 (without COE)
Distributor: Ital Auto Singapore
For more photos of the Ferrari California 30, view here.
*This was first published in Autogridz.