Ferrari treads a fine line with the California. If it had made it as pure a Ferrari sports car as an F430 Spider, it risked failing to win over the customers at whom it is aimed.

Made too soft, however, it might as well have a Maserati badge on its nose and be £50,000 cheaper. Such are the dilemmas that face companies attempting to broaden their appeal without cheapening their brands.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The California is not always as much fun as we would like it to be

The California is cleverly positioned in the burgeoning Ferrari line-up – doing things that other models don’t do at a price they’re not either. There’s very little overlap, model-wise, which is why 70 per cent of California buyers so far have been new to the brand.

On the whole it’s a line Ferrari has trodden well. No, the California is not always as much fun as we would like it to be and, flattering headline acceleration figure apart, we’re unconvinced that it feels entirely fast enough.

However, none of the California’s rivals manage to do much better – the Ferrari is certainly a whole load more fun than a similarly-priced Bentley Continental GTC and it’s just about as comfortable, too.

We’d also take it ahead of a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and even an Aston Martin DBS Volante – both more expensive than the Ferrari, both similarly quick, but both without the blend of everyday usability and outright enjoyment. 

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But despite the inevitable compromises that come from a folding metal roof, the California feels more like a ‘proper’ Ferrari than, say, a Cayenne feels like a proper Porsche. And for that Ferrari deserves much credit.

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