This is where the Ferrari California departs from any other current Ferrari. Although a few familiar traits remain – chiefly the light, direct steering – the California has an entirely different set of ride and handling priorities from, say, an F430 Spider.
The first surprise is how well the California rides. We tried both the passive dampers and the optional Magneride units, and both (even with the latter set to Sport) coped impressively well with our road network, and especially so for a convertible. Such is the California’s comfort that you could easily use one to travel significant distances.
That suppleness doesn't mean you have to compromise on poise and control anymore, either. A significant overhaul early in 2012 produced an updated car, with changes including a significantly lighter chassis, reworked suspension and steering and engine upgrades. The main area the car benefitted was in its dynamic performance, especially with the optional Magneride system fitted.
Where once the chassis set-up worked fine driving at four-tenths and fell apart slightly at seven-tenths, it is now an accomplished all-rounder, with very little roll and dive, and a credit to its maker's heritage.
The Handling Speciale pack is a diversion in our view; it's hard to take confidence from, picking up speed off centre quite suddenly but without a corresponding increase in weight. It encourages you to throw the California around energetically, but it makes a smooth cornering line hard to follow, and it's all too easy to introduce unnecessary understeer.