Ferrari’s cheapest car is far from its worst. A classically proportioned roadster with a turbocharged V8 stuffed into the nose and a retractable metal hard top, the California has been a runaway success for the Prancing Horse.
Now for 2016 Ferrari is turning up the wick on the little drop-top in the form of a new Handling Speciale option package. The HS package looks to alter the demeanor of the car, taking it from a grand tourer to a much more performance oriented machine. The secret sauce for this model is a complete revamp of the suspension setup. The magnetic dampers have new software to make them react quicker, and provide an overall stiffer handling profile. Spring rates are also up by 16-percent on the nose, and by 19-percent in the rear.
There is more than just suspension tuning happening here, though. Ferrari has also revised the shift logic for the transmission to provide quicker shifts, and the car has been fitted with a new exhaust system to give it an even more aggressive sound.
Now Ferrari is claiming that “the exhaust was developed in tandem with the engine and gearbox control software to underline the performance gains, with a more rapid response and improved sound and volume when driven hard,” but they also say that the engine makes the exact same horsepower and torque numbers as it used to.
Finally, Ferrari adds a few exterior touches to the HS cars to make sure they stand out from the crowd. A new grille, and blacked out trim around the body tie in with a small plaque in the cockpit to verify true HS cars. Look for the official unveil of this machine to happen in Geneva later this year.