There’s an argument in the age of humongous cars and melting ice caps that small is the new big. Why buy a big saloon when a city car will do most of the things you require of it? Read more
Anticipation is high. We’ve broken the news that the new Yaris Hybrid will be London Congestion Charge free, learnt last night why this is one of Toyota’s biggest facelifts on record… and now I’m itching to drive it. Read more
It is 40 years since Volkswagen launched the original Scirocco (that’s back in 1974 non-maths fans). So it makes 2014 an appropriate year to update the current model. Read more
MR is driving the Audi A3 e-tron and has been sitting down with the notepad and reflecting. Here were our thoughts as we sipped our coffee… Read more
Sitting in a plane on Heathrow’s, delayed by the inevitable French air-traffic control strike – a week, guys? seriously? – I’m struggling to think of a more indulgent car than the one I’m off to drive today: the new S-Class Coupe. Read more
“The 107 is the kind of cheese you would have with a baguette,” says Peugeot 108’s design director (and chief designer of the 107), Ivo Groen. “The 108 is a cheese you would like to eat with a nice glass of red wine.” Read more
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.
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.
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.
To Germany, to drive the production version of the Jaguar XFR-S late-spec prototype I drove back in March on the eve of the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. Read more
First impressions: the new Volvo Polestar looks totally badass. Read more
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