2014 is the year of the turbo for Ferrari. After his Formula 1 Scuderia was forced, by new regulations, to replace the atmospheric V8 engines they had been using in their cars since 2006 for a turbocharged V6, now the Italian firm recovers this technology and applies it to one of its street models: the California convertible.
The new California T (T for turbo) features a turbocharged V8 engine capable of surpassing its atmospheric counterpart in both performance and efficiency, but especially in the latter because it is two tenths faster getting from 0 to 60 mph (100km/h), to reach a top speed of 196 mph (316km/h) thanks a power increase of 60 hp (up to 560). However, the main improvement is in fuel consumption through the use of Formula 1 turbo technology: the fuel consumption is significantly reduced from 13.1 to 10.5 liters and its C02 emissions are lowered from 299 to 250 g/km.
But two questions arise: what about the slow response that has traditionally characterized turbo engines? And how will these mechanical changes affect the behavior and overall feel of the California? Currently, only Ferrari knows the answers, but the Italian manufacturer claims to have made good use of a number of technologies— many of them also carried from Formula 1—to ensure that no defaults will be found in this segment. The Maranello factory promises that the power curve will rise steadily throughout the entire rev range.
Another matter, almost more important than the previous questions, is the sound. Will this V8 engine roar as loudly as the atmospheric? Everyone knows that one of the “cons” of the use of turbo engines in this type of cars—as was demonstrated in the first pre-season F-1 testing in Jerez, Spain— is that turbocharging technology creates a “level of roar” that is much more discreet, a possibility that vexes purists.
Therefore, Ferrari needs to convince them that the sound will not be a problem in the new California T. How will they achieve that? Once more, resorting to the use of technology and an optimized new flat-plane crankshaft, a three tube exhaust manifold and the turbo container. For now, Ferrari doesn’t guarantee it will sound like an atmospheric engine – “It is the first time we have achieved this result with a turbo engine,” is all they say, adding that the sound is “nice”, which invites us to think that it might miss the roar of the original California.
In any case, there are improvements that continue to make the California T supercar even more attractive. For example, it has a new gearbox and a revised suspension that help reinforce its sporting appeal. Furthermore, Ferrari says that in order to increase comfort, new shock absorbers work, in combination with motion accelerometers in its body, to reduce rocking and allow a more precise handling. Finally, the improved F1-Trac traction control offers the car greater grip, especially when accelerating in exit curves.
Regarding the design, the dimensions remain the same, but Ferrari claims to have expanded the space between the seats and back to improve the experience of a more ergonomic cockpit for the driver. From outside, the California T no longer has the air inlet on the central part of the front hood, now it is higher and more discreet, and the new grille is similar to the one used in the FF, with more pronounced horizontal grid lines. This new convertible will be available in the classic Rosso and Blue California colors that appear on these images, and its metal roof opens automatically in 14 seconds.
For now, this is all we know about the new Ferrari California T, which will be one of the major players in the International Geneva Motor Show to be held in early March. By then hopefully we´ll have more information, especially the date when it will available for sale, and the price.