Modern cars are notoriously hard to judge from press pictures and, judging by the new car standing in front of me, the Ferrari California, is no different.

There are aspects of the car which are unusual – the rear deck is high and so the rear elevation is remarkably deep and aggressive.

IMG_0726 You might say that it is at odds with the rather more delicate and classically elegant Ferrari nose, but then you can’t see the front and rear of the California simultaneously.

That extraordinary rout running down the car’s side that flips over onto the rear deck is also less shocking in the flesh, though it is more obvious when the roof is up.

Part of the idea of the feature is to reduce the visual height of boot lid (which has to cover the folding roof). The other job of the flourish is to define a haunch over the rear wheel, in the style of the original 1957 California.

Overall, this is a striking car. But Ferrari hasn’t taken the path of least visual resistance.

Disguised California prototypes are still running in and out of Ferrari’s factory as Autocar was photographing this pre-production example. But then the first Ferrari California deliveries are still six months away, and there’s much tweaking still to be done.

The company says this car is designed to deliver both ultimate supercar performance and drift-down-to-the-shopping-mall effortlessness in one package.

We won’t find out if it’s true until later this Autumn