Ferrari California T launch 001

A line of shiny new Ferrari California T – and one of them has MR’s name on it

Today, I am very much feeling like the ordinary bloke on the Ferrari launch. To make matters even more interesting, I’m sharing ‘my’ California T with Chris Harris, a man who should need no introduction by this point. One way or another, it’s going to be a fascinating experience.

But anyway, the Ferrari California T. This is a heavily revised version of what appears to be known as the 08 California, which was introduced back in 2009. Every body panel bar the roof and the windscreen surround is new. There is extensive aerospace and F1 grade aluminium engineering under the skin. The interior marries some technological curiosities with an increased emphasis on craftsmanship.

Ferrari California T launch 003

The chassis features sharper steering, stiffer springs and the very latest electronics for everything from the magnetorheological dampers to the ABS, stability and traction control systems. And of course, the new 3,855cc engine uses turbocharging for the first time on a Ferrari production engine since the F40.

While I strongly suspect it is going to be the engine that dominates this car – it’s a Ferrari, though, so isn’t that how it should be? – the lengths that Ferrari has gone to here should not be underestimated. And lengths is a good place to start, for in its determination to maintain a classic Ferrari California sound, it has ended up with a set of complex three-piece exhaust headers with equal-length piping that cost a small fortune to develop.

Ferrari California T launch 002

In addition to improving the sound this is also said to help overcome turbo lag. Peak power is 560hp – some 70hp more than the larger naturally aspirated unit it’s replacing. Torque, meanwhile, increases some 49% to a maximum of 557lb ft in seventh gear.

Why seventh gear? Because amongst what’s going on here is much manipulation of the torque output. In order to avoid the immediate but flat feel of a turbodiesel (Ferrari’s words, in jest, but still), the torque curve remains a curve, swelling as the revs rise. In the first three gears this remains a constant – but once you’re into fourth the peak increases and shifts lower down the revs, a trend that continues right through to absolute maximum in seventh. Seems odd, helps traction – and also allows Ferrari to use longer gears, improving efficiency. Sixth here is the equivalent of the old car’s seventh, for example…

As a result of all this, you get an ‘entry-level’ Ferrari which now does 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, yet is 15% more efficient. Isn’t technology wonderful?

I guess I’m about to find out.