Introduced in 2008, the Ferrari California was designed to be an accessible entry into the Italian brand; it was a car that could be driven comfortably and still live up to the Prancing Horse’s performance heritage. The new Ferrari California T, which gets a boost in performance with a new turbocharged V-8, premiers March 4 at the 2014 Geneva auto show.
Performance from the get-go
The California was refreshed for the 2013 model year with engine tuning upgrades and weight reduction. The T boasts a sharper, sportier exterior design and upgraded steering and suspension in addition to its turbocharged V-8.
Scuderia Ferrari lent its Formula 1 expertise to the turbo’s development. Torque is up 49 percent over the previous California, and fuel economy is up 15 percent to as much as 22 mpg on the highway. The 3.9-liter turbo V-8 produces 553 hp and 557 lb-ft of torque, enough to launch the redesigned convertible from 0 to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds on the way to a 196-mph top speed, according to the manufacturer’s estimates. Ferrari claims a complete lack of turbo lag, achieved using a variable boost management system that allows torque to increase across the rev range. Ferrari also revamped the exhaust manifold, turbo housing, and flat-plane crankshaft to ensure that the new engine produces a sound that is worthy of its improved performance.
Because many early California customers found the handling too soft and the steering too light, Ferrari added a Handling Speciale package, which included magnetic dampers, as a part of its update for the 2013 model year. With the California T, Ferrari seeks to remedy the need for such an upgrade from the get-go. It sports a new steering box, new springs, and magnetic dampers that Ferrari says creates smoother, more engaging steering response. Under serious pressure and hard cornering, F1-Trac traction control will keep the California T hunting for the next apex. Weight is reduced by 235 pounds, to 3583 pounds.
Designers from the Ferrari Styling Center and Pininfarina have imbued the new California with sharper edges and more aggressive exterior lines, in keeping with the car’s boost in performance.
Up front, the California T wears a more muscular nose that includes subtle dual scoops and larger front intakes on the lower fascia. The headlamps are leaner and more precise, neatly flowing toward the front wheels. Deeper incisions running across the car’s profile lead into cone-shaped door handles and more dramatic wheel arches, which flow into the distinctive rear decklid and rounded taillights. The rear lamps pop a bit more thanks to white turn indicators, and the still-bulging rear end gets a more dynamic treatment with aerodynamic scoops and a three-part diffuser. Quad exhaust tips remain, although the vertically stacked arrangement from the last California has been replaced with a 2 + 2 setup.
The T’s interior styling is very similar to that of the last California, so the sense of quality and comfort should carry over. A new touch-sensitive gauge between the center stack air vents displays performance readings on selectable screens. A new 6.5-inch infotainment system helps modernize the interior.
Price hasn’t been announced, but the outgoing model totaled $201,290 after destination and gas-guzzler taxes. The Ferrari California T will make its debut at the 2014 Geneva auto show in one of two launch colors: Rosso California (pictured) and Blu California.
Come back to automobilemag.com for more details leading up to the unveiling this March.