The Geneva Motor Show always plays host to a throng of exciting ultra-high-performance automobiles and this year’s installment was no exception. Lamborghini revealed its sultry new Huracán, McLaren unwrapped the alluring 650S and even Pagani’s outlandish Zonda Revolución made a showing. But the folks in Maranello, Italy were not to be out done.
Ferrari’s new California T bowed in the French-speaking Swiss city. This drop-top GT car features a number of significant enhancements over its predecessor. It’s been restyled, gains a new steering box as well as updated magnetorheological dampers that supposedly react 50 percent faster than the units supporting today’s version of the car. But all these reforms are just icing on the cake; the California T’s biggest news is in the engine compartment.
“T” Stands for “Turbo”
The car is powered by a brand-new 3.8-liter V8 that features a duet of exhaust-driven blowers; it’s the first turbocharged Ferrari in literally decades.
This engineering masterpiece delivers a 552 hp stampede along with 523 lb-ft of torque. With a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the California T can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in a claimed 3.6 seconds. But just because this engine is turbo-boosted doesn’t mean it can’t spin freely; redline is a lofty 7,500 rpm. Making a delicious combination even sweeter the car is approximately 15 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor.
Magnificence Is Not Happenstance
To learn more about this exciting powerplant we didn’t mess around, instead we went straight to the man in charge, one of Maranello’s magicians. Roberto Fideli is technical director at Ferrari and he graciously sat down with us for an in-depth interview.
Sequestered from the din and buzzing energy of the Geneva Motor Show, Fideli walked us through the ins and outs of this force-fed powerplant.
From day one, the company had three distinct goals in mind while developing this engine; it had to be efficient, sound like a Ferrari and deliver razor-sharp throttle response, plus it still had to provide supercar performance.
“We had a very big challenge because we were very happy about natural-aspired engines and we had a lot of ideas to develop natural-aspired engines,” Fideli explained. However, due to increasingly stringent fuel-economy and emissions regulations a classic Ferrari engine with lots of cubic inches (or centimeters) and a mile-high redline wouldn’t cut it in this application. A combination of downsized displacement and turbo boost was the answer. Fideli said “we think that this is the only technology that will allow us to do it without losing power and torque,” that is, to deliver an appropriate driving experience along with reduced fuel consumption.
“If we don’t find out a technical solution we can’t go in the market with a product that’s not our product” said Fideli; it took them quite a long time to get everything just right.