The new Ferrari California T Handling Speciale is only due for its official coming out party at the Geneva motor show on March 1 but it is already in our sights. This is probably because of reports coming out of CES in Las Vegas about a Ferrari California loaner made available for some journalists. The AFP also has this report about what to expect in the new HS version of the California so enjoy the extended sneak here.
The California’s present suspension setup has been overhauled, new springs developed, shock absorbers addressed, transmission reprogrammed and a new exhaust added in the pursuit of making the car more driver focused, according to the press release from the Prancing Horse.
Like all cars sporting the Ferrari emblem, the standard California T is no slouch. It eats up the 0-100km/h test in 3.6 seconds, metal folding roof up or down, and tops out at 315km/h. That means that in a straight line, there is not much out there in the cabriolet class, with a 2+2 seating arrangement, that can pass it.
Famously, the California was conceived in the Grand Tourer or GT fashion rather than as a proper speed demon. Of course, it was aimed directly at clients on the west coast of the US. Like all GTs, it is a car for long, straight roads and – in the case of the California in particular – dappled by guaranteed sunshine. The smoothness of the ride quality is a priority, even in a muscular proposition like this. Even so, as The Verge reminds its readers, do not attempt to ferry a baby around in this car.
The HS option is designed therefore to put a smile on the faces of northern European drivers who are lucky if they ever get the chance to drive their California with the roof down. Well, you could wear a raincoat but you would definitely not be wearing a smile after such a ride. The HS reportedly sacrifices some ride smoothness in favor of better responsiveness and superior handling. This is particularly true when the steering wheel-mounted switch is in sport-mode, which triggers enhanced rigidity, stiffness and reduced body roll.
The new exhaust system delivers a unique note that increases in intensity as the engine revs closer to the limit, ensuring the perfect soundtrack for traveling on the most twisting of canyon roads.
And to ensure the car’s looks match these performance changes, Ferrari has switched out the California’s front grille for something slightly more aggressive and has redefined the rear diffuser too. The exhaust pipes sport a matte finish and the center console carries a plaque warning passengers that this is the HS edition.
More details including pricing, will be announced at the Geneva Motor Show.