2009 Ferrari California | new car review

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 by

The California is the latest core addition to the stable, and it’s proved one of the most controversial.

For a start, it’s a folding hard-top , the first that the House of the Prancing Horse has ever produced. And it’s been unashamedly marketed towards the ladies, leading to concerns that the core petrolhead audience will be alienated and the legendary performance upon which Ferrari built its name will be tarnished. Thirdly, the engine is in the front, not the middle. Craziness, surely?

Thankfully, according to those that have driven it, such concerns are unjustified. Performance has been described as everything one would expect from a modern Ferrari and the looks are still unmistakably Scuderia.

The 2009  is a rear-wheel drive 2+2, which means it theoretically seats four, but in reality seats two, unless you have two friends with no legs. Power comes from a 4.3-liter V8 engine that produces a not-inconsiderable 453 bhp. It might be a bit girly, but it sure can move. This beastly power plant is connected to a new seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

The advantage of two clutches compared with the traditional clutch, without going into too much technical detail, is that it changes cogs faster and more smoothly. One clutch operates the even-numbered gears, the other the odd-numbered ones, so the next gear is always instantly ready to slot into place.

The 2009 Ferrari California comes as standard with ultra high-tech carbon-ceramic brakes (usually a very expensive option on other supercars) which will mean hugely impressive stopping power. There’s also multi-link suspension – the first time it’s been seen on a road-going Ferrari – that uses F1-style components to provide the best ride and handling possible.

Other technology includes launch control, which will generate exactly the right amount of torque to the rear wheels to propel the California towards the horizon from a standstill, but without any wheel spin. The traction control system is controlled by a switch on the steering wheel and can be set to comfort, sport or CBT – the latter of which switches all electronic stability aids off if you fancy a few lunatic moments. But be careful – all that power isn’t to be taken lightly.

The 2009 Ferrari California isn’t one of the most classically beautiful Ferraris, but it does have presence and some very svelte lines. The folding roof can go from completely closed to totally stowed in 15 seconds, which isn’t bad at all and should avoid any ‘caught at the traffic lights’ moments that some other folding hard-top owners have known to suffer from.

The 2009 Ferrari California then, is one for the ladies. But despite the folding hard-top, it’s definitely for the men too. With huge power and that legendary yellow and black badge, it’s a car for the aficionado, whatever the gender.

The only downside, if you want a new California straight from the factory, is that it’s sold out until 2012. Ho hum.


Body TypeEngine (litres)Power(bhp)Transmission Transmission
Coupe/Convertible 4.3 453 483 M/A

Price Range (AED) 764,000


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