I remember when Ferrari first showed off the then all-new California.
It was the first F car sporting a folding metal roof and it looked, well, not so great.
Considering it was boasting the name of — arguably — the most gorgeous car to come out of Maranello, this was a problem. At least in my eyes.
Originally the California had a big butt, a questionable grille treatment and a stacked exhaust that looked like it was inspired by Lexus' IS F. The interior wasn't much better as it featured the same headunit from a Chrysler Sebring. This was before the era of UConnect, which is actually a FANTASTIC system.
This week though the highly regarded Italian marque brought us the details on the new and improved version. Boasting a new forced induction powerplant good for over 550 horsepower and styling upgrades, I think Ferrari has righted its wrong.
Though its headlights are more modern a la the F12 and 458 Italia, the grille looks like a throwback to my eyes. The two-tone color treatment they're using for their marketing purposes looks killer and with a slightly revised rear end and more intrusive rear diffuser the back end doesn't look so chunky, even if it is.
So, what's there's not to like?
Has Ferrari turned the California from an ugly duckling into a swan?
Discover the images of the new Ferrari California T: the perfect synthesis of sportiness, elegance and technology. The new 8-cylinder with turbo engine debuts at the Geneva Car Show.
Over 800 select Prancing Horse clients have been given the unique privilege of attending the world preview of Maranello's latest-born model, the California T. The unveiling ceremony took place over two emotion-charged evenings at the Casa Natale Enzo Ferrari Museum.
Ferrari's press release follows:
Ferrari California T to be unveiled at Geneva: elegance, sportiness and technology
New V8: intense sound and vivid acceleration across the rev range for the first time from a turbo-charged engine
Torque up by 49% and fuel consumption down 15%
Maranello – The Ferrari California T epitomizes elegance, sportiness, versatility and exclusivity: characteristics that have distinguished every California model since the 1950s.
The California T boasts striking standards of innovation while retaining signature features such as the successful 2+ concept, a refined cabin and, of course, the retractable hard top (RHT) which transforms it from a chic coupe into a sleekly sophisticated spider in a mere 14 seconds.
The model brings with a host of new solutions, not the least of which is its 8-cylinder turbo engine. Maranello's engineers have created an entirely new power unit which delivers absolutely superb levels of performance, blistering pick-up and the most exhilarating soundtrack any turbo has ever yielded.
This is also the first time virtually zero turbo lag has achieved on an engine of this type, guaranteeing instantaneous response to commands and, as with naturally-aspirated power units, a torque curve that increases constantly across the rev range thanks to Variable Boost Management.
The direct-injection, 3885 cc turbo 8-cylinder is mounted very low in the chassis in a mid-front position and delivers 560 cv at 7500 rpm, which translates into a specific power output of 145 cv/l – the highest in its category – as along with maximum torque of 755 Nm. Figures that give the California T extraordinary acceleration over the 0 to 100 km/h sprint which it covers in just 3.6 seconds.
As in Formula 1 this season, a turbo is used to cut fuel consumption and C02 emissions. Compared to the outgoing model, fuel consumption is down by 15 per cent despite 70 cv more power and a 49 per cent increase in torque. Emissions are down to 250 g/km over the combined cycle which equates to a 20 per cent reduction in the C02/cv ration (0.44g/cv). The California T's engine also benefits from several other solutions used on the single-seater, not least compact, very low inertia twin-scroll turbines to ensure ultra-sharp throttle response. The Scuderia's methodologies and plant are also used for certain phases of its production, particularly at the casting stage.
One major challenge involved in the design of the California T was to guarantee it a typically intense, exhilarating Ferrari engine sound. This was achieved through meticulous design work and the use of special manufacturing techniques for essential components, such as the flat-plant crankshaft and the three-piece cast exhaust manifold and turbo housing. The engine produces a powerful, engaging sound during both the intake and exhaust phases, becoming even more potent as engine speed increases. This the first time a result of this kind has ever been achieved with a turbo engine.
The California T delivers true sports car dynamics too, thanks to reduced steering wheel activity and improved steering response to driver input, courtesy of a new steering box and suspension set-up. New springs and latest-generation Magnaride dampers (which respond 50 per cent faster), combined with body motion accelerometers, reduce roll and pitch for more precise handling whilst still guaranteeing an incredibly comfortable ride.
The California T also has the latest evolution of the F1-Trac traction control system for maximum acceleration of corners, thereby underscoring the sportier side of its personality.
The California T's architecture, controls and new 8-cyklider engine ensure consistently intense driving pleasure in challenging driving conditions as well as making the car fun to drive even in more relaxed situations, very much in the Grand Tourer tradition.
The carbon-ceramic braking system is also extremely efficient with new composite discs and pads. The brakes are integrated with the ESP 8.0 which controls the high performance ABS for a short 100 to 0 km/h braking distance of just 34 meters.
Considerable attention was paid to the design, maintaining the outgoing model's overall dimensions while ensuring that the California T has a new, individual personality. The sleek proportions were penned by the Ferrari Styling Centre in collaboration with Pininfarina and are very much in keeping with the Ferrari front-engined ethos. The shape of the California T's flanks is inspired by the 250 Testa Rossa's famous pontoon-fender styling, with the front wing line stretching back towards the compact, muscular rear, bringing an aerodynamic sleekness and movement to the sides. The rear benefits from meticulous aerodynamic research resulting in a new triple-fence diffuser.
The California T's cabin was designed to be as ergonomic as possible and exudes a sense of warmth and craftsmanship, with luxurious Frau semi-aniline leather trim. The interior space is flexible so that owners can make the most efficient use of the boot capacity even with the top down, thanks to the opening between luggage compartment and rear seats.
The human-machine interface encompasses the Ferrari steering wheel with integrated controls while the Turbo Performance Engineer (TPE) takes pride of place between the two air vents in the centre of the dash. The TPE display boasts a capacitive (touch-sensitive) surround to scroll through screens with information on making the most of the new engine's performance. The California T also features a new infotainment system with an extremely intuitive high-resolution 6.5" screen featuring both tough-screen and conventional controls.
The California T will be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show in March, but from today can be admired online at www.ferarri.com in its two launch colours: Rosso California, an intense, deep new red inspired by classic Ferraris, and Blu California, which underscores the versatility and elegance of this new model.
Type: direct-injection 90° V8
Total displacement: 3,855 cc
Maximum power*: 412 kW (560 cv) at 7500 rpm
Maximum torque*: 755 Nm (77 kgm) at 4750 rpm
DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT
Length: 4570 mm
Width: 1910 mm
Height: 1322 mm
Dry weight**: 1625 kg
Weight distribution: 47% front – 53% rear
Top speed: 316 kn/h
0-100 km/h: 3.6 s
* With 98 octane fuel
** With lightweight optional equipment
*** Combined cycle (ECE+EUDC) with HELE system