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New models - Ferrari - California - T Handling Speciale

Driven: Ferrari California T HS lands from $426K

Speciale delivery: The Handling Speciale package adds $15.750 to the price of the regular Ferrari California T in Australia.

Handling Speciale package to snare 75 per cent of Ferrari California T buyers

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Ferrari logo6 Jul 2016

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

FERRARI Australasia expects 75 per cent of California T models will be sold with a new Handling Speciale (HS) package designed in response to buyer requests for a more hardcore version of the Italian brand’s entry roadster.

The California T HS has landed locally about three months ahead of schedule, according to Ferrari Australasia president and CEO Herbert Appleroth, but wait times could already stretch to 12 months based on early indications of the popularity of the new package.

Beyond the $409,888 plus on-road costs sticker of the California T, the HS further requires a $15,750 spend, bringing the price to $425,638.

The package includes stiffer springs (16 per cent front/19 per cent rear), firmer adaptive magneto rheological dampers, quicker gear-changes, a retuned stability control system and a new exhaust aimed at providing a sportier note under load.

Mr Appleroth has claimed the HS package “really does transform the car,” noting that it sits flatter through corners, particularly at the front end.

The front-mounted 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine continues unchanged with 412kW of power at 7500rpm and 755Nm of torque at 4750rpm in seventh gear only. An increasing amount of torque is permitted through the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in each higher gear.

The California T HS continues to send drive to the rear wheels only, reaching 100km/h from standstill in 3.6 seconds and 200km/h in 11.2s.

A carbon-ceramic braking system is standard, with discs measuring 390mm front and 360mm rear.

Other standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, bi-Xenon headlights, automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with unique-for-Australia Apple CarPlay connectivity included.

Further equipment optional overseas but standard in Australia extends to electrically adjustable front seats, tyre pressure and temperature monitoring system, fold-down rear seat backrest, adaptive front headlights and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The list of personalisation options for the Handling Speciale remains extensive, however.

Four wheel and tyre packages are available, with 20-inch forged alloys adding $13,300 to the price. A carbon-fibre steering wheel with LED tachometer is available for $12,500 and dash inserts for $10,650 while nine brake calliper colours are available for $2720 apiece.

Buyers can also select from 22 exterior colours, 15 interior trim colours, 18 stitching options, eight carpet colours and four seat designs, plus multiple seatbelt, seat piping and stitching combinations.

The $425,638 front-engined, 2+2-seat California T HS roadster narrows the pricing gap to the $469,888 mid-engined, two-seat Ferrari 488 GTB hardtop that gains an additional 80kW and 5Nm from the same V8 twin turbo. However for its open-air equivalent there is a greater stretch to the $526,888 488 Spider.

Ferrari Australasia sees a very different buyer profile for its California T HS to the 488 GTB and Spider.

While the original California was developed as more compliant Ferrari that can be driven more comfortably every day, however, Mr Appleroth has previously confirmed that Australian buyers were asked what the company needed to do to improve its entry roadster and the response was to make it sportier.

This feedback, he said, reflected the expected high take-up rate of the Handling Speciale package.

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