The new California T is Ferrari’s first turbo model since the immortal F40 and it launched to the South African market this week. Stuart Johnston was there.
Ferraristi who have signed up for the dramatic new California T will have bragging rights that few other Ferrari owners can lay claim to. This new Ferrari was announced to the media officially at the new Scuderia South Africa facility facing onto William Nichol, Bryanston, Jhb on Friday last week.
All New Engine in the California TThe new engine in the best-selling Ferrari model is the first turbocharged production powerplant the company has released for general consumption since the immortal F40 which was produced between 1987 to 1990. And like that engine, the new unit is also a downsized V8.
The new turbocharged engine in the California is mounted ahead of the driver, unlike in the F40 where it was a mid-engined device. But this is no hardship, as many fans feel that front-engined Ferraris are still the real deal. And indeed, the styling upgrades to the new California T have made the car more svelte, and yet edgier than before.
The new turbocharged powerplant has no doubt already increased demand for the California. The T now boasts a smaller-capacity direct-injection V8, down from 4.3-litres to 3.8-litres. Thanks to turbos, power has increased from 360 to 412kW and torque is up to an impressive 755Nm. This will mean a 0-100 kph time of just 3.6 seconds using the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to its optimum and a top speed of 316 kph. Yet fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are down by around 15% , which of course is generally the whole idea behind downsizing in capacity and going the turbo route.
Ferrari were concerned that the turbocharging system would muffle the exhaust note and consequently much work was done to ensure that the distinctive V8 sound is retained.
Dimensionally the car is almost identical to the California that was introduced in 2008, but it is ever-so-slightly wider and longer by a few mm either way. Despite having extra turbo hardware, dry weight has been reduced ever so slightly, to 1 625 kg. However that figure remains impressive as the California T retains its folding-metal roof coupe-convertible configuration.
What Else is New?Initially, the T is recognised by a new bolder, sleeker grill and new headlight clusters, as well as detailed styling refinements all around the car. There have also been small, but significant updates to the interior of the car.
The suspension too, has been revised, the California T employing new springs and the latest-generation Magnaride dampers, which vary compression and rebound rates by electronically manipulating traffic of minute metal particles in the damping system. There are also body-attitude sensors which varies suspension settings to reduce pitch and roll, and the new car has a revised, quicker steering system.
On the braking front, the latest carbon-ceramic CCM3 braking, and 100 kph to standstill is said to be achievable in just 34 metres.
Scuderia DealershipSeeing the car pull up into a cleared space in a banquet era of the new multi-story Scuderia showroom and workshop facility for its media “unveil”, perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the car was the brilliantly short space of time (apparently 14 seconds) it took to convert the car from coupe to convertible, in a totally slick manner – no clanking or electric motor whirring, or hydraulic moaning, just an exercise in efficiency of which Maranello can be proud.
Talking of Maranello, the factory in Italy was expanded especially for the initial California production, and output levels have been as high as 27 cars per day, or 6 000 units a year, making the California the best-selling Ferrari of its era.
The Scuderia South Africa company has been formed with new investors,and the existing branches in Durban and Cape Town will now also be known as Scuderia South Africa. However, in a surprise move, it was announced at the function that Scuderia South Africa would no longer be associated with the Maserati brand in South Africa. However, in the immediate future, Scuderia South Africa would continue the servicing of Maserati product.