Ferrari’s new F149 California was unveiled not too long ago and will be making its way to Naza Italia showrooms pretty soon. When it was first unveiled I think many were put off by how it looked and what it stood for. Some consider it Ferrari’s first Porsche – an A to B car instead of an A to A car, as in the first Ferrari that you can actually use as a daily driver and even on cross-state trips comfortably instead of just for a short weekend drive to somewhere nearby for thrills and back to the garage.
The California also looks smaller than it actually is. Check out the video below of Michael Schumacher talking about the California. You can see that the California is actually larger than it looks. I think it looks smaller because it’s not seriously low like most Ferraris thus the whole scale is not typically Ferrari.
The body is made from aluminium and the design by Pininfarina attempts to pay homage to the old Ferrari 250 California. And it does look similiar, from the shape and the way the headlamps are set in the body, to the size, shape and position of the lower air intake grille. At the same time it shares a family look with the rest of the FMR Ferraris – its older brothers the 599 and the 612.
There are rumours going around about how the California came to be. Some say that the model was originally designed to be a Maserati, which explains why it was designed to be so livable in, compared to the other Ferraris. However the amount of research and development put into the car required it to have a Ferrari badge and thus Ferrari price points and profit margins to justify its R&D cost and technologies. This has never been communicated officially by Ferrari of course, but I can see why it cost so much.
The Ferrari California is currently the first and only model with a V8 engine installed longitudinally in a front-midship position, that means the engine is in front of you instead of behind you. Power travels through a signature flat propeller shaft to the rear wheels. It’s also the first to feature a 7-speed twin clutch transmission, and this is currently the only option for the California – no gated-manual transmission here, though I’m sure one could come later if there is demand. The chassis rides on a double wishbone setup at the front and a multilink setup at the rear. Optional is a magnetic adaptive suspension, similiar to the one on the 599 GTB Fiorano.
It’s also the first Ferrari with direct injection, which will improve emissions, fuel efficiency, and boost power at lower RPMs. The 4.3 litre V8 is built entirely from aluminium and uses a 90 degree angel between the two V banks, and an 180 degree angle between the cranks. The crank is a flat plane instead of a cross plane, which gives the V8 a more racecar-like sound – like two inline-4s singing or rather shrieking in harmony together instead of an American-ish rumble that you expect from a crossplane crank.
Power is 460 horses at 7,750rpm and 485Nm of torque at 5,000rpm. Now not only is that a pretty high torque to displacement ratio for a normally aspirated engine, but 75% or 340Nm of that is already available and usable from just 2,250rpm, a testament to the magic of direct injection as well as variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust.
Don’t expect the California to represent an early entry point into the Ferrari buyer experience though – the company has no Boxster/Cayman equivalent in terms of pricing yet, at least here in Malaysia, not sure about overseas. Expect to pay 7 digits for this baby when it arrives here in Malaysia!
Look after the jump for more videos and a gallery of the California.
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