2012 Ferrari California Handling Speciale

What's even better than a Ferrari? A lighter, more powerful Ferrari, of course. And that's precisely what Maranello has announced with a mid-cycle refresh for what is perhaps its least appreciated product: the California.

The upgraded model destined to debut at the Geneva Motor Show benefits from 30 more horsepower and 30 kilograms (66 pounds) less weight. The former, now up to 490 hp, is achieved through the fitment of a new exhaust manifold and tweaking the ECU, while the latter comes courtesy of ever-evolving aluminum manufacturing processes. The result is a 0-62 mph run in 3.8 seconds with a modified torque curve.

Along with the upgrades, Ferrari is also offering a new Handling Speciale package that packs magnetorheological dampers (similar to those initially developed for the 599 GTB Fiorano) that can more rapidly adjust the suspension on the fly, coupled with a quicker steering ratio and stiffer springs.

Decidedly evolutionary as the improvements are, they ought to make what's already one of the most capable cabrios cruising the boulevard even more so. We'll be on hand in just a few weeks to bring you more on the updated California live from the floor of the Geneva Palexpo, but for now you can delve into the press release after the jump and the pair of high-resolution images released thus far in the gallery below.
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Geneva debut for lighter, more powerful Ferrari California with new "handling speciale" package

Maranello, 15 February – The Geneva Motor Show will see the official debut of the new version of the Ferrari California, production of which has already commenced, with a reduction of weight of 30 kg and an increase in power output of 30 CV.

The Ferrari California's GDI V8 now delivers 490 hp with maximum torque of 505 Nm at 5,000 rpm, thanks to new exhaust manifolds and engine mapping. The torque curve has also been modified and is higher across the engine's generous rev range.

Cutting-edge aluminium fabrication techniques and construction technologies used by the Scaglietti Centre of Excellence in the manufacture of the Ferrari California's chassis, have led to an overall reduction of 30 kg in the car's weight without impinging in any way on its structural rigidity and performance.

These enhancements have improved the Ferrari's California's performance, reducing its 0-100 km/acceleration time to 3.8 seconds. This heightens its sporty feel without detracting from the mission and character of a car that has won universal acclaim for its performance and exceptional versatility resulting from its retractable hard top and 2+ seating. To meet the needs of clients desiring a more dynamic, yet not overly extreme, driving experience, an optional Handling Speciale package has been developed which encompasses modifications to the suspension set-up that minimise body roll and make the car even more responsive to driver inputs.

The Handling Speciale package includes Magnetorheological dampers controlled by an even faster ECU (-50% response time) running patented Ferrari software. The package also features stiffer springs for more precise body control combined with a comfortable ride. Lastly, the California benefits from faster turn-in with smaller steering wheel angles thanks to a new steering box with a 10 per cent quicker steering ratio.

All these new features combine to underscore the California's sporty prowess without affecting its high-performance grand touring vocation – an achievement very much in line with Ferrari's DNA.

The technical features are matched by a new, even more extensive choice of colours developed by the Ferrari Styling Centre, including two-tone finishes, three-layer paint technology and modern re-interpretations of classic colour schemes which increase the exclusive personalisation possibilities even further. In addition, the Ferrari California benefits from the free seven-year standard maintenance programme.

The availability of the lighter and more powerful vehicle, along with the optional Handling Speciale package, varies according to each market with first deliveries scheduled for Europe.