3. Ferrari California

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Words By Jim Holder

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The only thing that's not new about Ferrari's latest creation, the California, is the name.

It resurrects a badge last used in the late 1950s. The rest is hot off the press, and includes a number of firsts for Ferrari.

It's the company's first car with a folding metal roof, a front-mounted V8 engine, direct fuel injection and a twin-clutch semi-manual gearbox, and its first for donkey's years without race-bred double wishbone suspension all round.

At the rear the California has a multi-link arrangement chosen to suit the car's sporting GT character.

The engine is a new 4.3-litre V8 developing 460bhp. Thanks to a package of engineering and aerodynamic work it's capable of 21.5mpg, with emissions of 305g/km. That makes it 6mpg and 55g/km better than the mid-engined F430.

The two-piece folding metal roof stores or unfurls in just 14 secoinds, and its compact construction means you lose only 100 litres of the 340-litre boot space when it's stashed.

It is made of extruded aluminium, so it's actually lighter than the canvas roof on the F430 Spider.

The cabin can be configured as a two-seater or a two-plus-two, and it can be altered after you have bought the car if family circumstances change.

Although it is seen as more of a grand tourer, the company insists it is 'still a Ferrari', so you'll be able to order a six-speed manual gearbox in place of the seven-speed semi-auto, and carbon ceramic brakes and a three-option traction control switch on the steering wheel are standard.

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