2009 Ferrari California Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Ferrari's first convertible with electric folding hardtop
  • New direct-injection V-8 power
  • Debuts a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox
  • Aluminum chassis and bodywork
  • F1-Trac traction control system
  • Available HGTC handling package
  • Standard Brembo ceramic brakes
  • Introduction set for the Paris International Car Show in October

Introduction

Ferrari's newest Gran Turismo model has been christened the Ferrari California. The name pays homage to the 1957 250 GT California Spyder, a limited-production open-top GT made famous by its unfortunate demise in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Styled by Pininfarina, the body and chassis of the all-new 2009 model is crafted in aluminum, with a powerful V-8 engine mounted under the sleek bodywork. Ferrari touts the California as a "2+" concept, to "guarantee exceptional versatility of use in the rear of the car," but it is more likely to accommodate luggage than two additional passengers. Joining its 12-cylinder siblings, the 599 GTB Fiorano and the 612 Scaglietti, the all-new California is expected to slot into the Ferrari lineup priced slightly higher than the standard V-8-powered F430, and less expensive than the race-ready 430 Scuderia. The official introduction of the Ferrari California is set for October 2008, at the Paris International Car Show.

Hardware

The 4.3-liter V-8 powerplant in the 2009 Ferrari California features direct injection and the Italian automaker's trademark flat-plane crankshaft, and is rated at 453 hp. Mated to an all-new, 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the Ferrari will sprint to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds (as many Ferrari customers still demand a traditional standard gearbox, the automaker will also offer a 6-speed manual transmission). Although powerful exotic sports cars are rarely considered eco-friendly, Ferrari says it paid close attention to tailpipe emissions to make the California the "greenest" car in its current lineup.

The 2009 Ferrari California sets itself apart from other Ferraris in several different ways. Most notably, the V-8 engine is mounted in a "mid-front" position for the first time. By placing the engine in front of the passengers, but behind the front axle-line, Ferrari was able to accommodate another first for its marque-a power-operated folding hardtop for its convertible platform. Handling has not been compromised as the Ferrari California rides on a new multi-link rear suspension for exceptional control and sharp response, the maker says. In addition, the F1-Trac traction control system has been specially calibrated for the new suspension and chassis dynamics of the California. For those seeking a track-ready suspension, the Italian automaker will offer its new HGTC handling package with lightweight wheels, and featuring a lower ride height. The newest Ferrari won't have any problem slowing from triple-digit speeds either, as it is equipped with fade-resistant, ultra-high-performance Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes as standard equipment.