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Geneva show: Ferrari unveils turbo California

Force feeder: The new 3.9-litre V8 turbo in the California T can send the convertible from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds, while returning a relatively frugal 10.5 litres per 100km.

Shades of F40 as Ferrari returns to turbocharging with 412kW/755Nm California T

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Ferrari logo13 Feb 2014

FERRARI has returned to turbocharging for the first time in more than two decades with the California T unveiled overnight ahead of its world premiere at the Geneva motor show next month and first Australian deliveries before the end of this year.

For years, the Italian supercar brand has openly admitted turbocharged engines would be part of its future as increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions regulations came into force, although it solemnly promised that the cylinder count would not fall below eight.

Enter the California T, the first turbocharged road car from the Prancing Horse brand since the F40 built from 1987 to 1992, and one that packs a serious punch with confirmation of a 3855cc mid-front-mounted direct-injection twin-turbo V8 that delivers 412kW of power at 7500rpm and no less than 755Nm of torque at 4750rpm.

An uprated version of the Maserati-designed but Ferrari-assembled engine used in the recently released Quattroporte GTS – a unit that displaces 3799cc and produces 390kW/710Nm in the trident brand’s flagship sedan – the 3.9-litre can propel the 1625kg (dry weight) California T from 0-100km/h in a claimed 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 316km/h.

While the torque figure is up a phenomenal 49 per cent compared to the current California’s 360kW/505Nm 4297cc GDI V8 (which hits 100 clicks in 3.8s), Ferrari is also quick to point out that fuel consumption is down by as much as 15 per cent – to 10.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle – when the convertible is fitted with optionally available lightweight equipment and the HELE (‘High Emotion Low Emissions’) pack.

The latter combines an idle-stop system with ‘intelligent’ control of the engine fans, fuel pump and air-conditioning compressor, plus a more adaptive version of the California’s seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission.

CO2 emissions for the California T come in at 250 grams per kilometre.

Ferrari Australasia chief executive Herbert Appleroth told GoAuto today that Australian deliveries were expected in the fourth quarter and that the California T would carry “similar pricing and similarly strong waiting lists” to the current model, which is priced from $459,295 plus on-road costs.

“The California T is extremely exciting with a wonderful combination of sultry styling, phenomenal performance and versatility that will again make the California T hugely popular not only with our existing California owners, but also those driving more mundane sports convertibles,” Mr Appleroth said.

“Further details will be provided after the Geneva motor show, however you can expect similar pricing and similarly strong waiting lists like its predecessor.”

While full details of the California T are still to be released, Ferrari says the new power unit produces “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 been 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 company says.

Drawing further on Ferrari’s experience in Formula One, which has now switched to turbocharging, Maranello’s engineers have also used compact low-inertia twin-scroll turbines to ensure “ultra-sharp throttle response” while the requisite aural qualities of the engine were achieved through “meticulous design work and the use of special manufacturing techniques” for key components, such as the flat-plane crankshaft and 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,” Ferrari says.

Other mechanical changes brought with the T centre on its dynamic performance, with a new steering box and suspension set-up designed to improve steering response. There are new springs and latest-generation Magnaride dampers (said to respond 50 per cent faster), with the upshot being tangible improvements in both handling and ride comfort.

A revised version of the F1-Trac traction control system is also onboard, while new carbon-ceramic brakes – with new composite discs and pads – cut the braking distance from 100-0km/h to 34 metres.

Styling changes made by the Ferrari Styling Centre in collaboration with Pininfarina maintain the current model’s overall dimensions but aim to provide a “new, individual personality” for the T.

“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,” Ferrari says.

“The rear benefits from meticulous aerodynamic research resulting in a new triple-fence diffuser.”

Inside, the cabin is trimmed in Frau semi-aniline leather and also features a new infotainment system with 6.5-inch screen (with both touchscreen and conventional controls) and a Turbo Performance Engineer (TPE) touchscreen display that provides information on engine performance.

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