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Frugal Ferrari California T arrives

T-off: Ferrari’s entry-level car was rolled out in Melbourne today and is set to continue the success of the previous California hard-top convertible.

California T brings more Ferrari power and efficiency for less cash at $409,888


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17 Jun 2014

FERRARI’S first turbocharged supercar for more than two decades – the stunning 412kW drop-top California T – has arrived in Australia, priced from $409,888 plus on-road costs which makes it the most affordable model available with the famous prancing horse badge.

With a new, more powerful but frugal engine, improved dynamic performance and sharpened price, the iconic Italian car-maker is planning to repeat the same success it had with the previous-generation California in Australia, selling about 200 of the super-exclusive GTs.

The outgoing California’s thirstier 4.3-litre normally aspirated V8 has been replaced with a smaller 3.9-litre unit, but with the addition of twin turbochargers the new engine manages to pump out an extra 74kW while slashing fuel consumption from 13.1 litres per 100km to 10.5L/100km.

Torque output gets an even bigger boost by almost double, ramping up from 485Nm to a rein-snapping 755Nm which helps the California T gallop to 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds, 200km/h in 11.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 316km/h.

Despite the extra performance and more frugal engine, the California T goes on sale today at almost $50,000 less than the superseded model, and the Italian supercar marque is expecting the new version to continue the same success of the outgoing car.

In an interview with GoAuto, Ferrari Australasia chief executive Herbert Appleroth told GoAuto that he is confident the new California will continue attracting fresh customers to the brand.

“As the California was before it, this car is strategically important because it brought such a large number of new people to the Ferrari family,” he said.

“For 70 per cent of California owners, it was their first Ferrari and that’s what we need to do. We need to entice people who haven’t had that Ferrari experience before.

“It’s absolutely crucial and we expect the same performance with the new California T. The volume should be somewhat similar (to the outgoing California), but we believe the demand will be even stronger.” An increased demand for the model will not necessarily translate to more sales of Ferrari’s newest California because the company deliberately limits availability to maintain exclusivity.

“As we’ve shown with the previous California, by limiting the number of cars to be less than demand has ensured the resale of California is by far market-leading,” Mr Appleroth said. “You’re talking 65 to 70 per cent resale value after three years – market dominating.

“In the retail price of a car you’ve got huge taxation, which has got nothing to do with us and yet, basically, we are able to return what they paid for the car.” A brace of turbochargers has not been seen gracing a Ferrari engine since the iconic F40 ceased production in 1992, but induction is where any similarity to the new California T ends.

The new V8 sits up front, but with a majority of its mass aft of the front axle, 47 per cent of the total vehicle weight is distributed to the 19-inch front wheels, and 53 per cent to the driven wheels.

Direct injection feeds fuel to the 90-degree V8, which spins up to a redline of 7500rpm and pumps out 250g of CO2 per kilometre.

A seven-speed automatic transmission receives power via two clutches and the latest version of Ferrari’s F1-Trac and ESP 8.0 stability control system makes sure everything keeps pointing in the right direction.

In typical Ferrari style the steering-wheel is a centerpiece. Switchgear allows adjustment of vehicle dynamics, the engine start/stop button is also situated on the three-spoke leather-clad wheel and the horn button is subtly concealed under thumb bulges.

Steering and suspension system revisions have sharpened the California’s handling, while magnetic ‘Magnaride’ dampers have a 50 per cent faster response rate compared with the older model.

Standard wheels can be optioned up to 20 inches and mighty race-derived carbon-ceramic brakes can haul the California T down from 100km/h to zero in just 34 metres.

Advanced engine management maps make adjustments to turbo boost pressures according to vehicle conditions, reserving maximum boost and peak torque for the higher gears, and Ferrari says a minimisation of spinning turbo mass has “virtually eliminated” turbo lag.

Placing a turbine in the flow exhaust gasses can rob volume and character from an exhaust note, but Ferrari says the turbocharged California’s “meticulous design and sophisticated production methods” have maintained the typical flat-plane crank V8 sound.

While extensive changes have been made under the California’s skin, the exterior changes are more subtle.

A new rear diffuser has a more purposeful appearance and massaged front bumper to hint at the boosted performance, while side vents and scalloped strakes have been redesigned.

Headlights have been slimmed down to a more arrowhead design and the single bonnet vent has been swapped out for two nostril-like ports which aid airflow through the radiators.

The three-piece folding roof is unchanged, converting the California from snug winter warmer to showy summer cruiser in 14 seconds.

Hand-finished leather adorns virtually every cabin surface from the lavish seats to the doors and dashboard, and the simple gauge arrangement is highlighted by the centrally mounted tachometer – not the speedometer.

Rear seats remain little more than a gesture, but with a folding shelf the 340-litre boot space can be expanded to accommodate two sets of golf clubs. Stowing the roof steals 100 litres of boot space.

A ‘Turbo Performance Engineer’ display relays engine performance figures to the driver and sits between the two centre air vents. Scrolling through the data is possible by tapping the bezel of the circular screen.

A new 6.5-inch touchscreen takes care of all other information and entertainment systems.

Two new colours have been designed especially for the California, named Rosso California and Blu California, while the interior design options allow 15 million different combinations, Ferrari says.

While many manufacturers favour keyless engine starting, to honour a tradition, Ferrari has retained the humble ignition key – in red.

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