Stiffer suspension, a tweaked gearbox and a new exhaust system should give this Italian Grand Tourer a more sporting character

Ferrari is to launch the Handling Speciale pack for its California T sports car at the Geneva motor show in March.

The pack has been designed to give the turbocharged California a more performance-focused character, with stiffer suspension, quicker gear changes and a more vocal exhaust part of changes.

New springs that are 16% stiffer at the front and 19% stiffer at the rear have been fitted, and the car’s dampers have been adjusted accordingly to improve body control by reducing roll, dive and pitch when pressing on. The new suspension's effects can be felt most when the car's manettino is set to Sport mode.

Read Autocar's review of the 2016 Ferrari California T Handling Speciale

Ferrari concedes that the new suspension does slightly compromise ride comfort, but explains that the package has been developed to meet the needs of “drivers seeking an even more sporty experience, particularly on twisty routes”.

To match this sharper handling, Ferrari has hastened the change times of the car’s seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, and swapped the car’s standard exhaust for a new twin-silencer system.

With two primary pipes and a new geometry, Ferrari says the Handling Speciale exhaust projects a fuller, richer tone that rises in volume as engine speed increases. This should match the California T’s power band, which has been deliberately tuned to offer its best performance higher in the rev range – mimicking the character of a naturally aspirated unit.

The engine itself, a 3.85 twin-turbocharged V8, receives no changes with the pack, so the car’s straight-line performance remains identical. The unit produces 552bhp at 7500rpm and 557lb ft of torque at 4750rpm; the 0-62mph sprint takes a claimed 3.6sec and top speed is quoted as 196mph.

Aesthetic changes are subtle, though the car does get a new front grille in matte Grigio Ferro Met, and the diffuser is finished in this colour too, with matte black fences and matte black tailpipes sat either side. The only change inside is the fitment of a new plaque to signify the car’s use of Handling Speciale equipment.

There’s no word on pricing yet, but for reference, optioning the Handling Speciale pack on the previous generation California cost £4320 when it was first offered back in 2012.

Our Verdict

Ferrari California

The Ferrari California is the company's boldest model for decades, but is it worthy of the name?

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