This past fall I hopped behind the wheel of yet another prancing horse. Life sure can be tough some times ;).

The first opportunity I've had to drive a turbocharged Ferrari was an interesting one. While I was surprised to hear and feel how much Maranello's engineers tuned OUT the turbocharger — little to no whistle and no noticeable lag — I did note that the California T was not as loud as I would have hoped, even with the top down.

It wasn't muffled or muted like a lot of forced induction vehicles, it was just a bit more calm than other Ferrari vehicles I've piloted. Considering the emphasis on grand touring and luxury it wasn't a major surprise, just something different.

Well, it seems that the boys and girls from Italy wanted to up the ante a bit. Thus, the implementation of a sport package that provides the California T with a bit more attitude. Dubbed the Handling Speciale or "HS," the package stiffens up the vehicle's suspension, adds some blacked out bits and equips the Italian stallion with an all-new exhaust.

Three cheers for success!

This mirrors what Ferrari has done with its other grand tourers, like the 575M, 599 GTB and 612 Scaglietti, which were available with special handling packages. Look for the HS package California T to appear at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show (GIMS).

Ferrari's press release follows:


Maranello, 22 January 2016 – The California T, Ferrari's immensely successful front-engined V8 model with retractable hard top and 2+ seating configuration, is now available with the brand-new Handling Speciale (HS) option.

Clients the world over have been so impressed with the California T's ideal combination of performance and versatility that it has become the benchmark for all high-performance Grand Tourers. Now owners looking for an even more sporty driving experience, particularly on challenging, twisty routes, have a new optional package to meet their needs.

The Handling Speciale option offers a series of specific calibrations and a set-up that lends an extra edge, especially in the manettino's Sport mode. This bespoke solution incorporates new damper settings and modified springs that make the car stiffer which, although marginally reducing the ride comfort, results in even sportier feedback, aided and abetted by the new engine sound that increases as revs rise.

The gear-shift logic for the Sport mode has been modified (both in automatic and manual), resulting in faster, sportier gear engagement during both up- and down-shifts.

The HS package also includes 16% stiffer front springs and 19% stiffer ones at the rear with a consequent increase in body control thanks to lower roll, dive and pitch.

The differences in Sport mode are underscored by a new strategy for the SCM3 magnetorheological dampers that increases their speed of response and improves their efficiency. The revised F1-Trac logic helps ensure even better acceleration, particularly when exiting corners and on more bumpy road surfaces.

The HS package also includes a new exhaust system with silencers featuring two primary pipes and a new geometry designed to yield an exhaust note that increases progressively as engine speed increases, with a sound in keeping with the car's more sporty character.

The exhaust was developed in tandem with the engine and gearbox control software to underline the performance gains, with a more rapid response and improved sound and volume when driven hard.

The exhaust's new timbre is instantly recognisable as soon as the driver hits the Start button. It is fuller, richer and more involving at all speeds and in all driving situations.

On an aesthetic level, certain elements have been highlighted to underscore the HS package's sporty vocation while still retaining the California T's signature elegance and sophistication. These include the new front grille in matte Grigio Ferro Met and the rear diffuser in the same colour with matte black fences and matte black tailpipes. A special plaque in the cockpit also indicates that the car sports the HS optional package.

The new option makes its official debut at the upcoming Geneva International Motor Show.

#GIMS: Ferrari's California T Gets The Extra Sportiness It Needs With The Addition Of TWO Letters, HS

About the Author