Used 2015 Ferrari California T Convertible Review
Faster and more efficient than before but still comfortable and easy to drive, the 2015 Ferrari California is a well-rounded and exceptionally capable grand touring convertible with the prestige only a Ferrari can provide.
Ferrari introduced the California convertible back in 2009 as a way to bring new buyers to the brand. Inexpensive (by Ferrari standards) and easy to drive (again, by Ferrari standards), the four-seat California ushered in a V8 engine/rear-drive layout and the company's first retractable hardtop design. It has been a big success, even if some critics found that the California didn't exactly live up to the traditional high-performance standards set by the Italian automaker. Seeking to address those complaints while maintaining the car's core set of attributes, Ferrari has introduced the heavily revised 2015 California T.
Starting things off is the California T's new turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 engine, which cranks out a stout 553 horsepower and 557 pound-feet of torque. In comparison, last year's 4.3-liter V8 was rated at 483 hp and 372 lb-ft of torque. And for owners who enjoy the corners as much as the straights, Ferrari has revised the California's steering and suspension to provide a better ride quality along with improved handling and sharper steering. The situation has improved on the inside, too. There's an updated center console and infotainment system that is a closer match to typical Ferrari quality. The design team in Maranello has even lowered the height of the dash to allow for a better view of the road.
With all these improvements, the California T is absolutely a better vehicle than earlier versions. But there are some drawbacks common for a roadster in this category. The backseat is still pretty useless, so we recommend the optional luggage shelf instead. And while the top goes down quickly, rivals boast the ability to raise or lower the top while on the move -- a convenience the California doesn't offer.
You should also keep in mind that the 2015 Ferrari California T has plenty of company if you're shopping for a high-end or exotic convertible. For similar levels of refinement and Italian heritage, shoppers may want to check out the 2015 Maserati GranTurismo Convertible, which also offers a more useful rear seat. With multiple engine options and a fantastically trimmed interior, the 2015 Bentley Continental GT Convertible is certainly a choice worth considering, too. If seating for four isn't your primary concern, check out the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG. It has comparable performance to the California T at a fraction of the price. Nor should you ignore the ever-popular 2015 Porsche 911 Turbo. Still, there's an argument to be made that a luxury grand touring sport convertible should be special and memorable above all else. And nothing does that as well as the 2015 Ferrari California T.
trim levels & features
The 2015 Ferrari California T is a two-door hardtop roadster with seating for four passengers, available in one well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, automatic bi-xenon headlights, heated rearview mirrors, full power accessories, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, a six-speaker stereo system with CD/MP3 player and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a touchscreen navigation system.
Optional equipment includes 20-inch wheels, a sport exhaust, adaptive suspension, chrome exterior trim, a series of special interior trim items including a carbon-fiber steering wheel with shift indicator lights (much like an F1 racecar), storage bags for the rear shelf, a premium sound system, an adaptive suspension, adaptive headlights and front and rear parking cameras.
As is the case with most other Ferraris, you can have the interior of the California T trimmed in a wide array of colors with several stitching patterns, and you can even have luggage made to match.
performance & mpg
The 2015 Ferrari California T is powered by a turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 engine that produces 553 hp and 557 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a seven-speed automated manual transmission that drives the rear wheels. Ferrari estimates that the California T will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the California T is 18 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway). With the optional HELE (High Emotion/Low Emissions) system, the California gets a stop-start system and special transmission programming that bring it up to 19 mpg combined (16/23).
Standard safety features on the 2015 Ferrari California T include four-wheel antilock brakes with ventilated rotors, traction and stability control, dual side-mounted front airbags and rear parking sensors. Ferrari estimates that the California T will come to a stop from 60 mph in 111 feet.
The highlight of the 2015 Ferrari California T is its new turbocharged V8 engine. This new powertrain is connected to the same seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox as before, which means shifts are lightning-quick, but the added horsepower and torque make the California T even quicker in a straight line.
Special tuning from Ferrari is designed to restrict turbocharger power when the car is cruising at lower rpm, but that power is unleashed as engine speeds climb. As a result, the California T's power delivery feels convincingly similar to that of a classic, high-revving, naturally aspirated Ferrari. And with this setup Ferrari has, for the most part, eliminated any telltale power delay typically associated with a turbocharged engine.
Ferrari has also stiffened the California's suspension and sharpened its steering this year. Both changes help it perform better around the corners, while retaining the excellent balance that was one of the original California's strong points. Despite the stiffer suspension, the California T is still a competent and comfortable cruiser, with a composed ride ideal for highway journeys.
While the interior of the 2015 Ferrari California T is mostly designed with comfort and sumptuous luxury in mind, there are some high-performance touches sprinkled throughout the cabin, too. The front seats are now wider and more comfortable than before but the seats still have significant lateral support that will keep you stable during high-speed cornering. The rear seat is sufficient for small children or extra luggage, but adults will have a hard time getting comfortable.
Many controls that used to be mounted on stalks behind the steering wheel (turn signals, headlights, windshield wiper controls and suspension dampers) have been moved to the steering wheel in the California T. This is a lot like the setup in higher-performance Ferraris like the 458 and it's inspired by the automaker's F1 cars, but it is a bit cluttered and confusing at times, especially when the steering wheel isn't perfectly straight.
Trunk capacity in the California T is just 12 cubic feet with the top up, and 8.5 cubes with the top down. While 12 feet isn't a lot, that's similar to competitors. With the California T, you get the added benefit of a luggage pass-through, which allows enough space for a set of golf clubs. The retractable roof is the same as the previous generation California's, which means it takes about 14 seconds to go up and can only do so when the car is in park.
Ferrari has thankfully updated the California's infotainment system. It now has improved graphics and responsiveness and more logical menus. It's better than before, but Mercedes and Porsche still have superior systems.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.