2012 Ferrari California debuts: lighter, more powerful, with Handling Speciale package

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 15, 2012

The new version of the Ferrari California will officially debut at the Geneva Motor Show. This model, which is currently in production, is lighter by 30kg and yet it offers a boost in power of 30 CV. The GDI V8 on the Ferrari California now produces 490 hp with maximum torque of 505 Nm at 5,000 rpm – the result of its new exhaust manifolds and engine mapping.

In addition, the torque curve was modified and is now higher throughout the engine’s generous rev range. The car weighs 30 kg less due to the use of advanced aluminum fabrication techniques and construction technologies by the Scaglietti Centre of Excellence in making the Ferrari California’s chassis.

But it’s emphasized that the weight reduction doesn’t compromise its structural rigidity and performance. These gave the Ferrari’s California’s performance a boost, shortening its acceleration time in going from 0-100 km to 3.8 seconds. This enhances the sporty feel without sacrificing the car’s mission and character. This car has gained universal recognition for its retractable hard top and 2+ seating that offered excellent performance and versatility. Ferrari seeks to meet the requirements of clients that want a driving experience that’s more dynamic but not overly so.

Hence, it offers this optional Handling Speciale package that includes modifications to the suspension set-up that reduces body roll and makes the car highly responsive to what the driver wants. The package also comes with magnetorheological dampers controlled by an even faster ECU (-50% response time) running patented Ferrari software.

The package features stiffer springs for more precise body control combined with a ride that’s comfortable. The California offers faster turn-in with smaller steering wheel angles due to a new steering box with a steering ratio that’s 10% faster. With these features, the California keeps its sporty features but its high-performance grand touring vocation isn’t affected.

The aerodynamics of the Ferrari California was done in conjunction with developing the style. As a result, the brand was able to ensure that the drag coefficient (Cx) remained low in relation to the downforce needed to make sure that vehicle dynamics is optimized. Under a coupe design, Cx is valued at 0.32. Because of the need to balance the drag and the vertical load, the rear diffuser was shaped to meet this requirement. This is in addition to putting the spoiler on its bumper in the front. Thus when compared to other models of the brand, the drag has been lowered by an additional 10%.

As a result, the Ferrari California is not only efficient in terms of aerodynamics but with fuel economy as well. To make sure that the engine compartment is cooled efficiently, air intakes have been placed on the bonnet. That the Ferrari California has that smooth aerodynamic style is no surprise considering that similar to other models of the brand, this version is a result of the brand’s partnership with Pininfarina and thus contains a number of trademarked styling cues.

Looked at on its side, the way the bonnet has that aerodynamic sweep contrasts well with not just the pulled-cabin but the compact tail volume. Its front section follows the themes that are presented on the sides and makes good use of the convex and concave volumes in an alternating manner. Thus when viewed at on the front, there is no doubt that it was inspired by the 250 GT California.

Proof of this is not only the grille at the center of its bonnet but the thin air intakes. Going to the rear section, one will notice that not only are the sides familiar, but the muscular tail section as well. Much like the front, the taillights make use of a single round LED and placed one the boot’s edge. However the way the boot manages to bend towards the bumpers enhances the functionality.

The twin tailpipes that have been vertically stacked though are a new addition. Note that while the design of the exterior does have a high level of sophistication, this is observed on the interior too. Thus the inside shows comfort, a bespoke quality, and refined luxury. In the middle of the front seats for example is the center console trimmed in aluminum. This highly unique addition goes far beyond simple aesthetics as it manages to have an impeccable design mixed well with functionality.

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