The Ferrari California T was crowned “Convertible of the Year” by the United Arab Emirates’ most authoritative automotive publication, Wheels Magazine. The car, which brims of innovation and epitomizes sportiness, elegance, versatility and exclusivity, more than meets the expectations of its discriminating clients, as it continues the illustrious charm that set apart each California model since its introduction in the 1950s.
The California T boasts striking standards of innovation while retaining signature features such as the successful 2+ concept, a refined cabin and of course, the retractable hard top (RHT), which transforms it from a chic coupe into a sleekly sophisticated spider in a mere 14 seconds.
The model brings with it a host of new solutions, not the least of which is its 8-cylinder turbo engine. Maranello’s engineers have created an entirely new power unit, which delivers 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 direct-injection, 3,885-cc turbo 8-cylinder is mounted very low in the chassis in a mid-front position and delivers 560 DIN metric hp at 7,500 rpm, which translates to a specific power output of 145 DIN metric hp per liter – the highest in its category – along with maximum torque of 755 Nm. Figures that give the California T extraordinary acceleration over the 0 to 100 kilometers per hour sprint, which it covers in just 3.6 seconds.
As in Formula 1 this season, a turbo is used to cut fuel consumption and C02 emissions. Compared to the outgoing model, fuel consumption is down by 15 percent despite 70 hp more power and a 49 percent increase in torque. Emissions are down to 250 g/km over the combined cycle that equates to a 20 percent reduction in the C02/hp ratio (0.44g/ DIN metric hp). The California T’s engine also benefits from several other solutions used on the single-seater, not least compact, very low inertia twin-scroll turbines to ensure ultra-sharp throttle response. The Scuderia’s methodologies and plant are also used for certain phases of its production, particularly at the casting stage.
One major challenge involved in the design of the California T was to guarantee it a typically intense, exhilarating Ferrari engine sound. This was achieved through meticulous design work and the use of special manufacturing techniques for essential components, such as the flat-plant crankshaft and the 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 is the first time a result of this kind has ever been achieved with a turbo engine.
The California T delivers true sports car dynamics too, thanks to reduced steering wheel activity and improved steering response to driver input, courtesy of a new steering box and suspension set-up. New springs and latest-generation Magnaride dampers (which respond 50 per cent faster), combined with body motion accelerometers, reduce roll and pitch for more precise handling while still guaranteeing an incredibly comfortable ride.
It also has the latest evolution of the F1-Trac traction control system for maximum acceleration of corners, thereby underscoring the sportier side of its personality.
The California T’s architecture, controls and new 8-cylinder engine ensure consistently intense driving pleasure in challenging driving conditions as well as making the car fun to drive even in more relaxed situations, very much in the Grand Tourer tradition.
The carbon-ceramic braking system is also extremely efficient with new composite discs and pads. The brakes are integrated with the ESP 8.0, which controls the high performance anti-lock brakes for a short 100 to 0 kilometers per hour braking distance of just 34 meters.
Considerable attention was paid to the design, maintaining the outgoing model’s overall dimensions while ensuring that the California T has a new, individual personality. The sleek proportions were penned by the Ferrari Styling Center in collaboration with Pininfarina and are very much in keeping with the Ferrari front-engined ethos. 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 toward the compact, muscular rear, bringing an aerodynamic sleekness and movement to the sides. The rear benefits from meticulous aerodynamic research resulting in a new triple-fence diffuser.
The California T’s cabin was designed to be as ergonomic as possible and exudes a sense of warmth and craftsmanship, with luxurious Frau semi-aniline leather trim. The interior space is flexible so that owners can make the most efficient use of the boot capacity even with the top down, thanks to the opening between luggage compartment and rear seats.
The human-machine interface encompasses the Ferrari steering wheel with integrated controls while the Turbo Performance Engineer (TPE) takes pride of place between the two air vents in the center of the dash. The TPE display boasts a capacitive (touch-sensitive) surround to scroll through screens with information on making the most of the new engine’s performance. The California T also features a new infotainment system with an extremely intuitive high-resolution 6.5-inch screen featuring both touch-screen and conventional controls.