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Australian buyers influenced Ferrari California T HS

California dreaming: Feedback from Australian Ferrari buyers has helped shape the Handling Speciale pack for the California T.

Local surveys requested hardcore changes to Ferrari California T

2 Jun 2016

FERRARI Australasia has gained a new role internationally, with local buyers having contributed to an engineering-based survey that helped lead to the introduction of the Handling Speciale version of the California T drop-top.

Speaking at the Australian reveal of the GTC4Lusso in Sydney this week, Ferrari Australasia president and CEO Herbert Appleroth claimed the local market had taken on new significance thanks to its volume growth and its customers were engaged in global engineering feedback for the first time.

“Australia is one of the fastest growing markets even though it’s one of the oldest,” he said. “Since we took over (as Ferrari importer) in 2013 and set up Ferrari Australasia we’ve been able to successfully communicate the importance of this market.

“When we launch any car, every client who is within the first 1000 clients to test drive the car there is an engineering-based questionnaire (for) direct feedback.

“Australia was never on that list but we now provide that feedback for our engineers and from existing Ferrari owners.” Mr Appleroth confirmed he had seen feedback from California T owners in Australia who wanted more involvement in the production convertible.

“Even though it’s a GT car they (Australian owners) actually wanted a little bit more involvement when it came to the suspension, when it came to the exhaust note and the involvement of man and machine, rather than something which was just a GT car, and we delivered that for them,” he said.

“People coming from other brands loved the California for what it was and what it is, but those who have had their experience from Ferrari that want to step up that sense of involvement and that’s exactly what the engineers did with the HS (Handling Speciale).

“It (was about) listening to our clients and soon-to-be clients.” Ferrari Australasia has offered the California T HS for an additional $15,750 over the $409,888 plus on-road costs standard model.

Included in the package that Mr Appleroth claimed “really does transform the car” are stiffer springs (16 per cent front/19 per cent rear), firmer adaptive magneto rheological dampers, faster gear-changes, a revised stability control system and a redesigned exhaust to provide a sportier note under load.

There were no changes made to the 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine’s 412kW/755Nm outputs or 3.6-second 0-100km/h claim, however.

Mr Appleroth said Australia was now gaining access to new models faster than before. Customer orders for the California T HS would now be delivered in June rather than the third quarter as previously forecast, and an undisclosed but small amount of deliveries had already commenced for the sold-out F12tdf special edition, of which 799 will be made worldwide.

“We’re riding a wonderful product-driven wave which started quite a few years ago, probably in 2013 and it just seems to be continuing,” he said.

“The (Australian) marketplace is still dynamic, it’s still growing, and to be honest I think the market is above what I actually forecast for this market.

“I think this market may have been thought of as a mature market … but actually in dynamism it’s quite a fluid market. There is a buoyancy at the moment and we’ re having a great time because we’re taking the majority of share.

“I think we’re starting to understand the true potential of this market, but we’ re not letting up, our foot is not off the accelerator.” Following a record full-year 2015 that delivered 48.2 per cent growth compared with 2014, Ferrari sales in Australia are down 7.8 per cent to the end of April 2016.

However Mr Appleroth indicated that deliveries next month of both the California HS and 488 Spider, and the expected sales increase of the GTC4Lusso compared with its slow-selling FF predecessor, are expected to drive growth. He also hinted that more was on the way from the brand.

“As you know from Ferrari there is always something new. We certainly have new product coming through (and) there is always something new that we’re going to excite the automotive world about, for sure”.

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