2011 Ferrari California Performance

$192,000 - $192,000

2011 Ferrari California Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Ferrari California was new.


Performance: 9.1

The 2011 Ferrari California offers a combination of sporty performance and comfortable drivability that reviewers love. Its 4.3-liter V8 is mated to either a seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission, and while reviewers say that the California accelerates quickly and handles well, this Ferrari was also designed to be more comfortable than speed demons like the Lamborghini Gallardo.

  • "Find the right road, though, and the performance is explosive. The combination of the thump in the back, the noise and the bang and sharp crack as you change up is simply intoxicating." -- MSN 
  • "Where the Ferrari really shows its advantage is in the details, such as how the gas pedal provides instant, precise responses from the engine." -- Car and Driver  
  • "Compared to previous Ferraris I've been in, the California launches and shifts with little drama. But to call it subdued would be to call a 6-ft. 6-in. NBA player 'average.'" -- Road and Track

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Ferrari California earns reviewer praise for its powerful V8 engine and a booming exhaust note. Most auto writers have only tested the automatic transmission, and they say it works extremely well whether you’re cruising around town in automatic mode or rocketing down the highway while paddle-shifting through the gears. A six-speed manual is also available if you’d like to row through the gears yourself.

Under the hood, the California comes with a 4.3-liter V8 engine that produces 460 horsepower and 357 pound-feet of torque. Ferrari says that the California has a top speed of 193 mph and can blast from zero to 62 mph (100 km) in less than four seconds. The EPA has yet to test the 2011 California, but the 2010 model nets 13/19 mpg city/highway fuel economy with the seven-speed automatic.

  • "Push hard to the 8000 rpm redline, grab the paddle and you're in the next gear in an instant. There's a never-ending sequence of rising frequency and sound levels followed by a thump as the next gear engages." -- MSN 
  • "Unlike other dual-clutch cars we’ve driven, there’s no hesitation from the gearbox when pulling away from a stop." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The direct-injected V8 pulls hard and sounds amazing, while the new dual-clutch transmission is polished and efficient whether you're banging through the gears on back roads or puttering around town in automatic mode." -- Edmunds 
  • "The Getrag-supplied dual-clutch seven-speed transmission, located just behind the rear axle to optimize packaging and weight distribution, is a thing of remarkable mechanical finesse. In automatic mode, it shifts smoothly and unobtrusively. Switched into manual mode, it keeps the engine on an express schedule to the redline and the driver amused by hearty, if not quite breakneck, acceleration." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The key to this performance is the way the dual-clutch transmission allows you to access that power instantly, with simply a pull on the steering-column paddle (left for up, right for down). It really is an engineering masterpiece." -- Popular Mechanics

Handling and Braking 

While the Ferrari California isn't as sporty as high-performance siblings like the Ferrari FF, reviewers say that it’s nimble and exhilarating to drive nonetheless. Plus the California’s suspension  is more comfortable for daily driving than many exotic sports car rivals. This is especially true with the optional adaptive suspension system, which earns high marks from reviewers.

  • "Carbon ceramic brakes haul the car back to reality with a real sense of confidence." -- MSN 
  • "Even the steering is millimeter precise, although it doesn’t feel that way at first - its weighting is light and feedback from the front wheels is scarce." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The California's road manners are exemplary, with a relatively smooth ride for cruising and handling that's sharp enough to justify the prancing horse badge." -- Edmunds 
  • "After showing its more playful side, the California is happy to oblige more relaxed cruising, dismissing highway miles with authority. Our minds soon wandered to epic cross-continental journeys, leaving us with little doubt that the California would be a rewarding choice for such an adventure." -- Autoblog
  • "Even at warp speed, the California has a surefooted feel, although the three-piece retractable hardtop has some slight wind-noise issues. The steering is nicely weighted, with a smooth linear action. When the car's settings are switched from comfort to sport via a steering wheel-mounted switch, steering effort increases and the suspension is firmed." -- Road and Track
  • "Even though the California has the same ceramic brakes as do most Ferraris, the system's setup is completely different. Ferrari specifically tuned this brake system to be much more user friendly. Other Ferraris equipped with the ceramics have a tendency to be very aggressive, grabbing hard on initial brake application." -- Motor Trend

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