It was perfect convertible weather — warm, slightly humid and overcast. We saddled up and headed straight for the beach — it's about as close as we were going to get to California without hopping on a plane or boat.
The road to the beach involved a little bit of highway driving and then a stint of urban trawling in traffic.
Absolutely spot on for a first date. The California T is the most affordable convertible Ferrari in the range and most importantly, the first turbocharged Ferrari since the amazing F40.
Thankfully, it doesn't look cheap or entry level to a passerby or Ferrari newbie. The California T still turns a lot of heads and when finished in Rosso Mugello with a tan interior, there is no denying it looks the goods.
Under the bonnet is a new 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged eight-cylinder engine that produces a mammoth 412kW of power and 755Nm of torque, making it good for a 0-100km/h dash of 3.6-seconds.
Hot. I'm not sure there's much else to say here. While it is the 'entry level' Ferrari, it still looks sensational and represents everything the Ferrari brand stands for.
The design is more polished and refined than the outgoing naturally aspirated California.
The optional interior package on our test car also looked the part. Tanned leather sometimes work really well and other times it doesn't. In this setting it looked superb and suited the nature of the car. The California T also looks equally good with the roof on or off — something that many manufacturers have trouble nailing.
Rear seating caters for two passengers — two very small passengers. It's more occasional use seating than full blown rear seating. But, it's better to be there for occasional use than never being accessible.
The boot is reasonably sized (340 litres) and can be expanded by dropping the rear seats. This figure makes the California T a practical cruiser even when the weather isn't working in your favour.
The JBL sound system is superb. Featuring 12 speakers, it produces great sound and comes with a host of connectivity options, including Apple CarPlay (a $6790 option).
Closing in just 15 seconds, the hard-top roof is easy to use and has a clever mechanism in place to prevent it from opening or closing when there isn't enough room behind the car — such as when it is parked against a wall.
One of the features that had me excited was Apple CarPlay integration. After plugging in your Apple device, the screen inside the cabin mimics the iPhone home screen, allowing you to browse messages, use the phone's navigation and even ask Siri questions. It's one of the first cars on the market to offer this feature.
The engine and drivetrain is also sensational. Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the versatile turbocharged V8 comes on boost hard and propels the California T like you wouldn't believe. The crack during gear changes is also comical to say the least. Direct steering and near perfect brakes complete this awesome package.
There are two things I didn't like about the California T. The first was the way you needed to manually unlock the car using the key, place the key in the key slot, turn it and then manually press a button to start the car.
The key looks ancient and could offer a more technological experience, such as proximity sensing.
Another aspect that I wasn't impressed with was one of the window switches breaking off. One of our staffers went to pull the window switch and it broke off its plastic holder. While it was promptly fixed and a non-issue to get resolved, it's not the type of quality I would expect from a car with this price tag.
The California T isn't quite a family car. It's a special occasion car, perhaps one that you would drive on a weekend down to your coastal holiday house. At a pinch, it can be used as a four-seater, but it wouldn't be top of mind for getting the kids to school.
Cars like this can be expensive to maintain — servicing, tyres and parts all come with a respective supercar tax. Surprisingly fuel use isn't one of those big ticket items. The California T uses just 10.5L/100km on the combined cycle thanks to its fuel efficient turbocharged V8.
Mind you, that figure is hard to match if you enjoy listening to the V8 bellow during every throttle application.
For me, the California T feels like a Ferrari for the masses, as opposed to an exciting experience like the 458, F12 or FF. That's not to say it won't be popular among people that want a classy convertible that is essentially unrivalled in performance terms.
It's a one night stand. My ultimate convertible Ferrari would be the Ferrari 458 Speciale A. A hardcore Ferrari with no roof to soak in the glorious engine note. The 458 Speciale A is the type of Ferrari that gets the blood flowing and heads turning.
Yes. In this price bracket, one could have a convertible Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, BMW M6 Convertible or for a little extra, the McLaren 650S convertible.
There is surprisingly a lot of competition in this segment and each of the luxury car manufacturers has a product to compete with Ferrari's offering.
As I mentioned earlier, this car is the perfect option for a couple that will use it to drive down to their coastal house. It could easily be used as a daily driven given its nimble proportions and excellent visibility.
The moderate fuel use also means it won't cost a fortune to run from a fuel consumption point of view. As Ferrari's first turbocharged car since the F40, it is a sensational effort. The gorgeous engine and brilliant exhaust note really round this off as one of Ferrari's most accomplished drivetrains.