Ferrari California Handling Speciale (2012) first official pictures

Published: 16 February 2012

This is Ferrari’s revised California, which will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March 2012. It’s got more power, weighs less, and can be optioned with a chassis-sharpening Handling Speciale package, all features scooped by CAR last year.

The California caused quite a stir when it was launched, ushering in a whole host of firsts for Ferrari: it was the company’s first convertible with a folding metal roof; the first with a double-clutch gearbox, the first front-engined V8 Ferrari, and the first with direct-injection engine technology. And these changes signal a mid-life tickle-up for the Merc SL and Bentley Continental GTC rival.

So what exactly is new on the new Ferrari California?

The direct-injection 4.3-litre V8 (the California was the first front-engined V8 Ferrari) has gained new exhaust manifolds and revised engine mapping. Which means 453bhp has become 483bhp, while the torque figure has been bumped from 358lb ft to 372lb ft at the same 5000rpm, with Ferrari claiming a meatier torque curve before the peak.

As for the weight reduction, Ferrari has managed to trim 30kg from the aluminium chassis thanks to new construction and fabrication techniques, but there’s apparently no effect on the overall rigidity. With more power but less weight the 0-62mph time is now 3.8 seconds – Ferrari previously claimed ‘sub 4.0’.

What about this trick handling upgrade?

It’s the optional Handling Speciale package, designed, Ferrari says, to ‘meet the needs of clients desiring a more dynamic, yet not overly extreme, driving experience’. That means stiffer springs, magnetorheological dampers controlled by a 50% faster ECU, and a new steering box with a 10% quicker steering ratio for faster turn-in.

But if that’s not your thing, then perhaps you’ll be tempted by the more extensive paint palette, with two-tone and three-layer finishes of some of Ferrari’s classic colour schemes. Prices for both the revised Ferrari California and the Handling Speciale package have yet to be announced.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy