13 May 2008

California dreaming

We've got all the details on Ferrari's all-new front-engined V8

Ferrari California

The California is a new Ferrari.

That's new as in new. Not a replacement for any of the existing models, but an additional fourth range for the company.

And, whatever the ill-informed speculation elsewhere in the blogosphere might have said, it's not a bottom-end Ferrari. It'll cost somewhere around, maybe a little above, the price of a 430 Spider.

It goes on sale after a public debut at the Paris Show this September.

Ferrari has aimed to make a car that's luxurious and useable every day, because it knows there are many thousands of newly ultra-rich around the world who don't see why a supercar should be grumpy, uncomfortable and difficult to drive through town.

To achieve that California has a lot of technologies new to Ferrari.

It's the first time they've made a front-engined V8. The first time they've done direct petrol injection. The first time they've done a folding metal hardtop. The first time they've had a dual-clutch transmission instead of the F1 system that jerks and stutters at low speed. The first time they've had multi-link rear suspension, to maintain handling but improve ride.

But don't worry, it's still a Ferrari.

It gets from 0-62 in 'under four seconds'. It has 460bhp at 7500rpm from a 4.3-litre engine, which is only slightly less than the same block produces in the 430, but the new car, because it a grand tourer, has a more generous torque curve. Having seven speeds in the box improves performance further.

It has carbon brakes as standard. The traction control system is borrowed from the brilliant 599. It has an aluminium body shell, and Ferrari has proved with the 430 Spider that it knows how to make this construction light and stiff.

Full details and more pictures are in the new issue of Top Gear magazine. There'll be more drip-feed as the summer goes along.

Get your deposit into your dealer now. Or, if your bank balance is like the rest of ours', at least book your Eurostar ticket to Paris this October.


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