Pros: Tremendous performance, even for the baby Ferrari; Four seats and a folding roof provides surprising practicality; Reasonably priced -- compared to Ferrari's other models

Cons: Unusual styling still draws occasional ire; Backseats are cramped -- but they're there; Doesn't quite have the panache of Ferrari's other models

What's new: The 2013 Ferrari California is revised to add more power, less weight and a new Handling Speciale option package.


When the Ferrari California debuted for 2009, it marked the brand's entry into an entirely new area of the market. Never before had Ferrari created a front-engine, V8-powered car. And the brand had never used a folding hardtop before. But thanks to tremendous performance and lower pricing than other Ferrari models, the California has quickly become the brand's best-selling car.

Under the hood, the 2013 Ferrari California offers a 4.3-liter V8 that makes 483 horsepower and 372 lb-ft of torque. That's an increase of 30 hp and 14 lb-ft over last year. Other updates for the new model year are confined to a 70-lb weight drop and a new Handling Speciale package. That last option offers a quicker steering rack and upgraded suspension for improved cornering.

For 2013, the California still starts under $200,000; Ferrari says its base price is $198,190. But options can quickly add to that figure. Last year, for example, a rearview camera added $3,500 to the base price, while power seats cost more than $5,000. One option drivers won't have to select is a transmission: A 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic is the only one available.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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