Ferrari's smallest car, the California, gets its name from the original 250 California Spyder. It's the carmaker's first retractable hardtop, and Ferrari bills it as a grand tourer — with driver-friendly features like Bluetooth connectivity, iPod compatibility, ample cargo space, a backup camera and a navigation system. Competitors include convertible versions of the Aston Martin DB9 and Lamborghini Gallardo.
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. For 2013, Ferrari offers a Handling Package that brings stiffer springs and a quicker steering ratio.
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 available 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. For 2013, around 66 pounds have been trimmed from the car's curb weight.
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 483 hp — 30 hp more than last year — at a howling 7,750 rpm and 372 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. Ferrari says the California will hit 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and sail through the quarter mile in 12.2 seconds.