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Geneva show: Speciale H for Ferrari convertible

T time: Ferrari's California T is now available with a $15,750 Handling Speciale pack and cashed-up buyers can expect to take delivery later this year.

Ferrari adds muscle to popular California T convertible


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26 Jan 2016

ANOTHER string has been added to the already-successful bow of Ferrari’s top-seller in Australia, the California T, with the Handling Speciale (HS) option pack set to debut at the upcoming Geneva motor show.

The twin-turbo V8 California T is now available with the new HS option, which is offered for an additional $15,750 over and above the cost of the standard version that retails for $409,888 plus on-road costs.

With the extra handling prowess for the top-selling convertible GT, the total price is $425,638, plus costs, and first delivers in Australia are expected in the third quarter.

According to Ferrari Australasia, 70 per cent of California T buyers were new to the breed and it has been key to the brand’s sales success in Australia last year.

The Italian sportscar-maker recorded 167 new-vehicle sales last year, a 47.8 per cent increase over the 113 Ferraris sold in Australia during 2014, itself a 6.6 per cent rise on 2013.

The retractable hard-top with seating for four will be available with the Handling Speciale option from the third quarter of this year and is engineered, according to Ferrari, to offer specific calibrations particularly when the wheel-mounted Manettino dial has been rotated to Sport mode.

Changes have been made to the adaptive magnetorheological damper settings and the springs have been stiffened up, which the manufacturer admits has “marginally” reduced ride comfort.

Spring rates at the front are 16 per cent stiffer, while the rears have tightened up by 19 per cent, which has reduced pitch and roll, according to Ferrari.

The gear-shift and damper controls in Sport mode have both been modified for faster and “sportier” gear engagement on up- and down-shifts, as well as revisions to the F1-Trac stability control system for better rough road and corner exit traction.

Ferrari said the HS option also includes a new exhaust system that improves the exhaust note when the engine is under higher load, using two primary pipes within a redesigned muffler to deliver a note to match the car’s more focussed 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.

A new matte front grille and rear diffuser – both in 'Grigio Ferro Met' – and matte black tailpipes are the only exterior clues, as well as a plaque in the cockpit that designates the HS optional package is fitted.

The 3.9-litre direct-injection twin-turbo V8 powerplant’s outputs are unchanged at 412kW and 755Nm, which still translates into 3.6 seconds from zero to 100km/h and a top speed for the folding hard-topped convertible of 316km/h.

Ferrari claims fuel economy of 10.5 litres of 98RON per 100km on the combined cycle.

Also expected on the official unveiling list at the Geneva motor show will be an updated Ferrari FF, although the veteran of the Italian marque’s range appears likely to be revealed a fortnight prior at Villa Erba on the shores of Lake Como.

A power hike for the 486kW/683Nm naturally-aspirated 6.3-litre V12 to more than 520kW is anticipated, as well as tweaks to the all-wheel drive system the exterior of the big $625,000 four-seater is also expected to get some attention if prototypes with disguised front ends are any indication.

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