Pros: Excellent performance; great sound; surprisingly practical -- for a Ferrari; usable day-to-day

Cons: Slightly awkward proportions; back seats are cramped; still considered the lesser Ferrari

What's New: The 2014 Ferrari California is unchanged, as a redesigned model is likely close behind for 2015.

The Ferrari California represented a new direction for the brand when it came out in 2009, as Ferrari had never before built a front-engine, V8-powered vehicle. The California was also designed to offer improved usability compared to other Ferrari models, thanks to a power-folding hardtop, four seats and a more traditional driving position than the low-slung cockpit found in many of the brand's vehicles.

Today's Ferrari California continues what the 2009 model started, with few changes from the initial design. Power still comes from a 4.3-liter V8, though it was bumped to 483 horses and 372 lb-ft last year -- an increase of 30 hp and 14 lb-ft over the original. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is still the only transmission. And there's still seating for four, though we should note that the rear seats are a bit cramped. The California also retains the same power-folding hardtop as the original 2009 model, an attractive feature that lets drivers enjoy the car no matter the weather.

With a new model on the way, the 2014 Ferrari California is largely unchanged compared to last year's model. Base pricing still hovers around $200,000, and options are both plentiful and expensive. But if you're interested in combining the cachet of the Ferrari name with practicality and top-down driving enjoyment, the California is your car.

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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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