2012 Ferrari California
Starting MSRP $195,840
Ferrari's smallest car, the California, gets its name from the original 250 California Spyder of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" fame. It's the carmaker's first retractable hardtop, and like the now-discontinued 612 Scaglietti, Ferrari bills it as a grand tourer — with driver-friendly features like Bluetooth connectivity, iPod compatibility, a backup camera and a navigation system.
Still, the 4.3-liter V-8 and Formula One-derived stability system suggest that, should they wish, owners could fling the California around a racetrack. Competitors include convertible versions of the Aston Martin DB9 and Lamborghini Gallardo.
The California's grille sits low on the bumper, with a small hood scoop above it. In back, single LED taillights sit above four exhaust pipes — two stacked vertically on each side. Shoppers can personalize their California with a multitude of colors, materials and accessories.
Ferrari says the aluminum hardtop deploys in just 14 seconds — quicker than most folding hardtops — and it takes up just 3.5 cubic feet of the trunk's 12-cubic-foot capacity. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 20s optional. Behind them, Brembo-brand carbon-ceramic brakes measure a massive 15.4 inches up front and 14.2 inches in back.
The California's steering wheel includes push-button start and a toggle switch that sets transmission response, stability system intervention and the optional adaptive suspension to one of three settings: Comfort, Sport and Stability/Traction Off.
Typical of Ferrari engines — naturally aspirated, with sky-high horsepower per liter — the California's 4.3-liter V-8 makes 453 hp at a howling 7,750 rpm and 357 pounds-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. The engine sits just behind the front axle and drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed automated manual transmission with steering-wheel paddles or a conventional six-speed manual. Ferrari says the California will hit 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and sail through the quarter-mile in 12.2 seconds.
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