Ferrari will boost the power of the V8-engined Ferrari California next February and offer a new handling pack, which this mule is understood to be testing during high-speed runs around the Fiorano test track. The ‘Handling Speciale’ package will feature significant upgrades to steering, dampers and springs in the mould of the HGTE package offered on the 599.
The HS pack will move the easy-driving California — which is expanding sales to customers mostly new to Ferrari — into more focused territory closer to Ferrari’s traditional appeal. Reprogrammed control software for the California’s magnetorheological dampers and lower-friction seals in the Delphi-supplied dampers will allow the suspension to respond up to 50 per cent faster to bumps.
Tweaks to the engine management system and a new alloy intake manifold for the 4.3-litre V8 will boost peak power by 28bhp to 483bhp and torque by 15lb ft to 372lb ft, although those figures are only available when the California is run on high-octane unleaded.
Ferrari has also tweaked the California’s steering rack to be 10 per cent quicker and beefed up the springs by 15 per cent to improve body control. Together, they should provide a more focused driving experience.
Visual changes are limited to dark chrome trim for the grille and side air vents, although these are understood to be optional. The NACA ducts on this mule’s bonnet won’t feature on the revised California, Autocar has been told.
Ferrari hasn’t agreed a price for the HS package yet, although it’s tipped to be considerably less than the £20k HGTE set-up. That included carbonfibre trim, new wheels and a body kit, suggesting the HS might be closer to £5k.
A raft of other improvements will feature on the California next year, including a new 40GB music hard drive and iPhone 4 connectivity.