From £152,116
Saves 10 per cent on CO2 emissions without sacrificing any significant driver involvement

What is it?

Proof that Ferrari is a company that, though trading in supercars, is striving to improve its environmental credentials. Ferrari has had a policy to make meaningful CO2 cuts since 2007, and it has been publicly experimenting with hybrids for even longer than that.

However, the first showroom fruit of this policy is a new stop-start version of the company’s most accessible model, the front-engined, 453bhp V8 California. The car, being built in right-hand drive form from this month, gets a stop-start system together with a coordinated package of efficiency-building measures that together cut emissions from 299g/km to 270g/km, with a commensurate drop of around 10 per cent in fuel consumption. (Ferrari is still working out the official figures.)

The package is known as HELE (for High Efficiency Low Emissions) – a name that, it is promised – will be offered on other production Ferraris in future, although perhaps not the Enzo-level specials. As well as stop-start, you get an intelligent engine fan, fuel pump and air-con compressors, which all operate on light load or when the car is decelerating. Additionally, the transmission is now adaptive and shifts up early when the driver isn’t hurrying, which saves fuel.

Engineers say the major fuel saving is in town (about 17 per cent) whereas motorway driving nets a fuel saving of about only one per cent. Initially, HELE costs £820, but it is likely to become standard on the California within a few months.

What’s it like?

On the road, the car is little different from a ‘normal’ California, except that the reluctance of the ancillaries to consume torque on acceleration puts extra shove (around 15 lb ft) at the disposal of the driver.

The engine starts promptly and smoothly after it has cut out at intersections; as soon as you realise the system is dependable and smooth, you stop thinking about it. In Drive on light throttle openings, you’re dimly aware that upchanges occur at very low revs, but torque goes so far down the scale, and the gearbox responds so crisply, that it’s never a problem. Greener it may be, but the California’s stop-start tech drains nothing of its usability or supercar aura.

Should I buy one?

If you were in the market for a California, then yes. Ferrari might not build economy cars, but this welcome shot of extra efficiency helps defend the whole breed from criticism – and it works.

Ferrari California stop-start

Price: £144,145; Top speed: 193mph; 0-62mph: 3.9sec; Economy: TBC; CO2: 270g/km; Kerb weight: 1735kg; Engine: V8, 4297cc, petrol; Power: 453bhp at 7750rpm; Torque: 357lb ft at 5000rpm; Gearbox: 7spd dual-clutch


Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Lesia44 6 October 2010

Re: Ferrari California stop-start

RobotBoogie wrote:
the clutch is weighted like a Victorian deep sea diver.
Hasn't been like that for the last 10 years or more.

RobotBoogie 6 October 2010

Re: Ferrari California stop-start

Let's do the maths. There are not many Ferrari's sold. Those that are sold don't do many miles. And any Ferrari owner with sense doesn't take them into town cos the clutch is weighted like a Victorian deep sea diver. Hence the total amount of petrol saved by the stop-start feature during the next five years will (works calculator furiously) just about enable me to fill my Suffolk Punch twice.

Peter Cavellini 6 October 2010

Re: Ferrari California stop-start

Deppi!, you don't think this is a useless feature?for what reasons?, a smidgeon more torque?, better fuel consumption?,kinder to the planet?, what planet are you living on mate?,you've had a few Ferrari's and you currently own the flavour of the month, your not going to tell us it matters having this useless feature on such a high powered car?, a couple of grand maybe not a lot of money to you, but don't you think it's just a sop to the owners just to make them feel good?, as if they cared!, now, if Ferrari really wanted to do something for the Eco- Warriors of this world they'd have made the hybrid concept they showed last year,after all these cars are repeat business not new customers, and the really exotic ones you've got to be invited to buy one (599FXX), no, it's a useless extra, and a waste of a grand, better of donating it to a good cause, you choose?.