The Ferrari California finally makes its official debut at the Paris Show today after a series of special previews on the web and during two dedicated events staged in Maranello and Los Angeles at which it received a hugely enthusiastic reception.
The Ferrari California is an exceptionally innovative car whose philosophy takes its inspiration from the spirit and emotions of one of the great Ferraris of the past, the 1957 250 California, a superbly elegant open top car designed for the track, which has, over the years, come to symbolise not only superior sportiness and performance but also exclusivity, craftsmanship and faultless sophistication.
This new car joins Ferrari’s 8-cylinder range which is made up mostly of very high performance models. It also flanks the 12-cylinder flagship 612 Scaglietti in the Grand Tourer category. The Ferrari California is a car with the track in its DNA. It is enormously innovative and will more than fulfil the expectations of even our most discerning clients, offering breathtaking driving pleasure and fun behind the wheel as well as extreme versatility of use and in-car comfort. It is available exclusively as a convertible with retractable folding hard top in either a two-seater version with a traditional rear bench or in the 2+ version which sees the rear bench equipped with seating for one to two passengers.
In line with Ferrari tradition, this model positively brims with innovative features. In addition to its retractable hard top and the aforementioned original 2+ concept, the new Prancing Horse car also offers: a new direct injection V8 engine, a 7-speed gearbox with steering wheel-mounted F1-style paddles coupled with a new dual clutch, a new suspension system (double wishbones at the front and multilink at the rear), the new evolved F1-Trac traction control system and Brembo brakes with CCM (carbon ceramic material) discs as standard (this latter feature is shared by the other models in the current range).
The California’s sleek aerodynamic styling is, like the rest of the current Ferrari models, the result of our longstanding collaboration with Pininfarina and offers a host of signature Ferrari styling cues. Viewed from the side, the aerodynamic sweep of the bonnet beautifully contrasts with the compact tail volume and the pulled-back cabin. The front continues some of the themes hinted at on the flanks, harmoniously alternating concave and convex volumes. Seen head-on, the car clearly takes much of its inspiration from the prestigious Prancing Horse car from which it takes its name: the grille and slender air intake at the centre of the bonnet most notably harking back to the 250 GT California. At the rear, the sides and the muscular tail section are both familiar too. As at the front, the single round LED taillights are inset directly along the edge of the boot. The California’s vertically stacked twin tailpipes are an original flourish as is the boot which sweeps right down to the bumpers to improve functionality. Of course, the interior also reflects the same level of design sophistication, exuding a sense of refined luxury, comfort and bespoke quality. Situated between the front seats, the new aluminium-trimmed centre console is another distinctive touch that goes beyond the merely aesthetic, beautifully combining functionality and design.
The Ferrari California’s aerodynamics were, of course, developed in tandem with its styling. This allowed Ferrari to keep the Cx (drag coefficient) right down with respect to the downforce required for optimal vehicle dynamics. In the coupé configuration, the California has a Cx value of 0.32. A desire to achieve perfect balance between vertical load and drag influenced the shape of the rear diffuser and the spoiler incorporated into the front bumper. Drag has been cut to 10% lower than on the other Ferrari models which not only makes the California a more aerodynamically efficient car but also reduces fuel consumption. Last but not least, the air intake on the bonnet ensures highly efficient cooling of the engine compartment.
The new 8-cylinder engine
This is the first V8 in the history of Ferrari road-cars to be mid-front mounted. Built entirely from aluminium, it retains the typical Ferrari architecture with a 90° angle between the two cylinder banks and a 180° angle between the cranks.
The engine has a total displacement of 4,300 cc and a maximum power output of 460 hp/338 kW at 7,750 rpm. With a specific power of 107 hp/litre, its maximum torque is 485 Nm (49 kgm) at 5,000 rpm, 75% of which is available at just 2,250 rpm. The Ferrari California takes less than 4 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h and delivers a blistering 310 km/h top speed.
The new V8 features direct fuel injection and variable timing (on both intake and exhaust) to guarantee superb performance, exceptional handling and fuel consumption and emissions that easily comply with the toughest Euro 5 and LEV2 standards. Thanks in part to these solutions, the Ferrari California consumes just 13.1 litres/100 km (ECE combined) and has carbon emissions of 305.6 g\km (ECE combined).
The California’s engine sound was also carefully developed as this is one of the great Ferrari signatures and really does contribute to enhanced driving pleasure. Particular attention was lavished on sound perception in the cabin both with the top up and down to ensure that trademark thrill without compromising on occupant acoustic comfort.
Gearbox and transmission
The Ferrari California sports a new dual clutch gearbox (7-speed + reverse) with the now traditional steering wheel-mounted F1-style paddles. This is an innovative system that guarantees a superb combination of performance and ride comfort. With the dual clutch, one clutch is used for even-numbered gears and the other for odd-numbered ones, and allows the pre-selection of the next gear required. The gears are changed by overlapping the opening and closing stage of both clutches, resulting in gearshifting times that are close to zero and with no “torque interrupt”. The result is not only enhanced performance but truly thrilling driving pleasure. The traditional transaxle layout (engine to the front and gearbox to the rear) also contributes to the California’s perfect weight distribution (47% front – 53% rear) and to reducing vibration to the bodyshell. In manual mode, the new gearbox guarantees great sporty driving pleasure while extra comfort is assured in automatic.
Chassis and suspensions
The Ferrari California’s chassis and bodyshell are both made entirely from aluminium. Thanks to the use of different aluminium technologies (extrusions and shell casts), the car’s exceptional versatility, onboard comfort and driveability has not added to chassis weight or to the dimensions of the structural sections – something that simply would not be the case had traditional steel architecture and technologies been used. Furthermore, static rigidity (torsional and flexional) has been improved with respect to average figures for a Spider to ensure exceptional handling in any kind of road conditions and to guarantee GT-standard comfort both with the top up and down.
The Ferrari California retains the traditional double wishbone suspension to the front while a new multilink system has been specially developed for the rear. The multilink system improves longitudinal flexibility of the suspension, keeping transverse rigidity values high. What this means in practice is that the car beautifully absorbs any unevenness, and noise and vibration are efficiently damped for exceptional ride comfort well on a par with the car’s nimble handling. The SCM Magnetorheological Suspension Control System, debuted on the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, is also available on request.
Retractable Hard Top
Of course the Ferrari California’s signature feature has to be its retractable hard top (RHT). It is made from aluminium panels and has a cast aluminium weight-bearing structure which has reduced its overall weight and the moving masses involved. The entire opening/closing cycle is completed in just 14 seconds and thanks to the original stowage system, the California’s boot space remains extremely generous regardless of whether it is up or down.
The GT Manettino and F1-Trac
The manettino has now become one of the classic features of our entire range as has its position on the steering wheel which is clearly derived from our Formula 1 experience. The manettino integrates the gearbox, stability and traction control systems (CST and F1-Trac) and the SCM suspension system.
The settings are as follows:
The Ferrari California also sports the F1-Trac traction control system which can very accurately read grip, assuring the very best can be made of the car’s potential at any time. The F1-Trac system guarantees:
In fact, the F1-Trac offers a 20% improvement in acceleration coming out of corners with respect to a traditional traction and control system.
The Ferrari California boasts an ejectable roll-bar to ensure that its occupants are protected should the car overturn. The system is installed behind the backrests of the rear seats and is hidden by the trim of the same. Ejection time is under 190ms. The onboard safety equipment is completed by front retractable airbags (driver and passenger sides), side retractable air bags in door panels, bi-xenon headlights and LED rear lights. New generation adaptive headlights, known as AFS (Advanced Frontlighting System), are also available on request, and offer improved visibility on the road. The headlamp beam angles are automatically adjusted in line with steering, angle, speed and lateral acceleration, offering a wider area of illumination when cornering.
Interior and standard equipment
Particular attention has been lavished on the design and in-car comfort standard of the California’s cabin. The new Ferrari is available in a choice of two configurations:
1. Two-seater plus rear bench equipped to take two roller suitcases or two golf bags.
2. 2+ configuration that sees the rear bench sporting two seats, Isofix attachment points, and two
In both versions, the rear backrest folds down to allow the stowage of longer items such as golf bags or skis. The boot capacity is also impressively generous: 340 litres with the top up and 240 with the top down.
A new electrically adjustable, magnesium-framed seat was also designed for the California. Another new feature is the instrument panel with analogue instruments (tachometer and rev counter) and four-screen TFT Multidisplay. The Ferrari California also boasts a new infotainment system with 6.5’’ touchscreen, Sat Nav, USB connection, Bluetooth, hard disc, voice commands and IPOD connector.
Carrozzeria Scaglietti Personalisation Programme
The Carrozzeria Scaglietti Programme allows all Ferrari clients to personalise their car to suit their own tastes and requirements. There are four main areas covered by the Programme: Racing and Track, Exteriors and Colours, Interior and Materials, Equipment and Travel.
The Ferrari California comes with diamond-finish 19” 5-spoke aluminium alloy wheels as standard. However, a further set of diamond-finish 20” forged 5-spoke alloy wheels that are 11 kg lighter than those offered as standard can also be ordered. The aforementioned diamond-finish gives the wheels an extra-high polish look.
The California is available in a choice of 16 different pastel and metallic colours. However clients also have the option of ordering the new Azzurro California shade created especially for the car’s launch.
In addition to the usual range of 12 leather colours available to choose from for the interior trim too, we’ve just added two new colours: Cioccolato and Iroko. A new racing seat with all-carbon-fibre frame and electrically adjustable backrest is also now available.
In addition to the already impressive list of features offered as standard with the new California, owners can also choose to have a rear parking camera fitted or order the luggage set designed specifically to make the very most of the rear bench space, an option available in addition to the traditional three-piece leather set coloured to match the interior trim, of course.
Samples of the various materials and virtual configuration tools will also be available to clients at every Ferrari showroom to help them make their choices too. They may also request out-of-range colours and content to really ensure their Ferrari California is absolutely unique.
This is a 13-year+ news article, from our Ferrari archive, which dates back to the year 2000.
If in doubt check with your local Ferrari dealer as car prices and technical data will have changed since 2008.
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