Apart from running a business, I do test drives for car magazines and newspapers and write for them about the experience after test-driving those machines. Recently I test-drove a Ferrari for one local newspaper.
Ferrari launched its first California back in 2008 at the Paris Motorshow as a Grand Tourer concept. The Ferrari California is a grand touring sport. It is a two-door 2+2 hard-top convertible. When originally released, California was powered by a front-mid mounted naturally aspirated 4.3-litre V8; in 2014 Ferrari introduced the second generation of the model, named California T and using a new twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8.
Enzo Ferrari established his reputation in motor racing and the birth of the Ferrari brand was actually a translation of his passion, dreams and aspiration to produce race cars. The Ferrari civilisation started as a race car manufacturer to a supercar manufacturer; while having a strong sense of motoring in its blood.
This is the first production Ferrari with forced induction or turbocharged after the iconic Ferrari F40.
Today we have a date; her name is California T and her father was Enzo Ferrari. She is dressed in a long black dress, 20 inch high heels, her red sultry inner dress truly brings my sliver out with some areas stitched in Alcantara.
Taking the Ulu Yum — Awana route, this Genting road looked like a perfectly normal road test area with a long stretch, slow corners, mid-fast corners with some mid-bum corners, smile-faces-long-sweeping corners with good cambered roads. These characters are so well suited to my date.
She handles well regardless of the mode of engine and suspension management we opted for the steering wheel, the steering character is what I always love about Ferrari. As far as I am concerned, the steering is not just great but exquisite. It transforms the feeling right to your palm.
Ride quality is another strong point, especially with the car set comfort or “bumpy road” modes and doesn’t come at cost of driving dynamics. The Ferrari team has mapped its engine character with almost non-existent turbo-lag, which means its behaviour feels like that of a naturally aspirated car with instant power delivery and its smooth linear torque deployment that surge the car without having a drastic head to head-rest kind of throttle kicks down. Its transmission, while responsive, isn’t as aggressively tuned as in other Ferrari vehicles and is tuned more for smoothness rather than all-out performance.
Why I love this beast is that, the chameleon interface of a Grand Tourer car with all the massive torque, easy driving, spacious, not-so-fierce looking design language with Don Johnson in Miami Vice playboy-ish character of the driver that easy driving with certain times using the power; and Cali-T with heavy true Ferrari supercar DNA, still have that inborn supercar trait of sharp handling and responsive steering feel, instant throttle response, the awesome seating position and the touch-and-feel interior of a very heavy Ferrari-ness.
Driving the car on long stretch up to 7th gear with near-the-top-speed indicator was awesome and the gearchange is silky smooth miles apart from the previous F430.
The sound of throttle blipping while shifting down from the long straight of Ulu Yam from 7th to 3rd gear left and right-handers were immensely good and put uninvited smiles on my face and most of the time I just wanted to shift up and shift down again because I just love the sound of the shift-down throttle blipping especially under the “Sport Mode” or “ESC Off” which I don’t recommend to use “ESC Off” if you’re a new driving or the first timer of RWD car or first timer driving a Ferrari or the driver who has no experience playing the tail-out in an RWD machine.
This massive torquey engine could easily put a smile on my face with its tail happy in 3rd gear around Ulu Yam and the corrective locks were easily being deployed just for the fun of this Maranello newborn.
This wonderful machine, be it in full auto mode, manual mode, Sport Mode, Comfort, ESC Off, fully covered or topless, I just love it. It’s something you could take to the office, park in front of KLCC for a dinner at Nobu or in front of Zouk for some birthday bash or even taking it to taking is fast and easy Sunday morning after “Kuliah Subuh” at Masjid Wilayah, or taking it on occasional Sepang Track Day.
Image | Wikimedia Commons
Then, how to tame a Prancing Horse
- Get to know the BHP (Brake horsepower) and Torque Curve. The graft of BHP and Torque will determine at what RPM or engine revs per minute the engine is pulling and until what RPM the power or torque declines. Then you’ll be able to know at what RPM you need to feed the throttle for a daily drive just to get the car moving or when to be naughty and get the tail out for a simple sideways or to carry long drift.
- Get the feel of the steering and be accustomed to its steering ratio. You need to know the turning radius in order to know how much lock on and lock off for the steering input when turning the steering.
- Driving a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) machine such as a Ferrari needs different throttle and steering input as the character of an RWD machine is prone to oversteer compared to the normal front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars, which tends to understeer.
- It’s better to attend a performance driving course should you want to drive a performance car or supercar. I can safely say if you want to drive a car with more than 350bhp (brake horsepower), I reckon that you attend a safety and defensive driving course and later an advanced driving course.
- You need to be familiar with the counter steer or oversteering techniques and the character of the vehicle.
If I were to write a letter to the late Enzo Ferrari, this is what it looks like.
“Dear the late father of Cali T, Mr Enzo Ferrari, you have left true Ferrari blood in any car out of Maranello and even without your presence, the true Ferrari engineering and formula which you have penned down right from your first car in your specially ordered Purple-inked liquid on the engineering drawing has been carried out right through the years. Mr Enzo Ferrari, I will definitely say “I do” to your youngest Miss Cali – T right away.”
Why I chose purple as the colour of the text, it’s because Enzo Ferrari will only pen down his signature using his specially-ordered purple ink for this fountain pen.