Front-mid V8 for latest Ferrari

  • 10-Oct-2008 04:22 EDT

Ferrari’s folding hardtop California is powered by a mid-front mounted direct-injection V8 engine.

Ferrari is a sportscar maker, and that does not mean four-door cars, emphasized its President, Luca di Montezemolo, at the Paris Motor Show unveiling of the new folding hardtop (two-door) California. His words sounded almost like an admonishment for the likes of Lamborghini, Porsche, and Aston Martin, companies that make no secret of their enthusiasm for the potential of four-door models.

"We will never do a four-door," stressed di Montezemolo. And Ferrari will not be doing any more manual gearbox cars after the California either. The California comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch system or a six-speed manual; di Montezemolo’s preference is clear.

Any Ferrari is inevitably a transport of technology, and the California is no exception, with a new direct-injection V8 engine, a new suspension system, carbon ceramic brakes as standard, and a further evolution of F1-Trac traction control, plus the aluminum retractable hardtop that puts the California in the coupe-cabriolet category.

But as with every Ferrari, it’s the engine that is the star. It is the first V8 to be mid-front mounted in a road-going production Ferrari. An all-aluminum 4.3-L, its use of direct-fuel-injection marks a first application of the technology for Ferrari, and variable valve timing for intake and exhaust help it meet Euro V and LEV2 requirements. CO2 emissions are 306 g/km, and fuel consumption 13.1 L/100 km—both ECE combined figures.

Power output of the 90º V8 is 338 kW (453 hp) at 7750 rpm, and maximum torque is 485 N·m (358 lb·ft) at 5000 rpm, aided by a 12.2:1 compression ratio. Performance figures include a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 3.9 s and a 310-km/h (193-mph) top speed. Ferrari emphasized its focus on achieving the requisite aural signature, particularly in the cabin with the roof raised or lowered.

Shell, a long-time technical partner of Ferrari (it started with Enzo Ferrari in the 1930s and powered the first Ferrari out of the factory gates at Maranello in 1947), was involved for two years in the development of the direct-fuel-injection system for the California. As the first Ferrari to feature such a system, the California is a major step toward the future for the manufacturer, which has pledged to improve fuel efficiency by 2012. Shell provided technical expertise, fuel mapping information for use in computer modeling, and the supply of V-Power fuel and Helix Ultra oil.

The California’s engine drives through either a six-speed manual or a new rear-mounted, seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox offering automatic and manual paddle control. The paddles are fixed in position and do not rotate with the steering wheel. The engine front/gearbox rear configuration makes for a front:rear weight bias of 47:53.

Aluminum is the chosen material for chassis and body shell. Both extrusions and shell casts are used. Torsional and flexional rigidity are described by Ferrari as being "better than average" for a Spider body design. Curb mass is 1735 kg (3825 lb). The car is 4563 mm (179.6 in) long, 1902 mm (74.9 in) wide, and 1308 mm (51.5 in) high—on a wheelbase of 2670 mm (105.1 in).

Suspension systems include double wishbones at the front, and there is a new multilink system at the rear. A magnetorheological suspension damping control system called SCM is optional.

The California also gets Ferrari’s established GT Manettino, with steering-wheel-mounted control to integrate gearbox, stability, and traction control systems (CST and F1-Trac), with Comfort, Sport, and CST-Off settings, the last turning off all electronic chassis support systems except ABS. F1-Trac’s capabilities include providing maximum grip on corner exit. According to Ferrari, F1-Trac offers a 20% improvement in acceleration coming out of corners with respect to a traditional traction and control system.

Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes measure 390 x 34 mm (15.4 x 1.33 in) front and 360 x 32 mm (14.2 x 1.26) rear. Tires are 245/40ZR19 front, 285/40ZR19 rear. A tire pressure and temperature monitoring system is fitted.

With its racing expertise, Ferrari has massive aerodynamic engineering capability to achieve the required Cd (0.32 with roof raised) and downforce. The company claims a desire to achieve "perfect balance" between vertical load and drag influenced the shape of the rear diffuser and the spoiler integrated into the front bumper. Drag is some 10% less than that of other Ferrari models.

To help keep the c.g. as low as possible, the folding hardtop uses aluminum panels and has a cast aluminum weight-bearing structure. Cycle time for opening or closing is 14 s. Trunk capacity is 340 L (12.0 ft³) with the roof up and 240 L (8.5 ft³) with it retracted. Fuel tank capacity is 78 L (20.6 gal).

Safety systems include popup rollover bars behind the backrests of the rear seats that deploy in 190 ms if needed. Airbags include door-mounted systems, and adaptive headlights are optional. The car comes as either a two-seater or a 2+2, with the rear bench having seating for one or two passengers and a fold-down capability. With the pursuit of weight saving a Ferrari constant, magnesium framed front seats are fitted.

Analog and digital instruments are fitted, with the round analog rev counter dominant and a secondary multidisplay screen.

Although the California is set to become a sales success, di Montezemolo said at Paris that the company would keep production below 7000 next year. As for new developments, he did not rule out turbocharging and said Ferrari was exploring a spread of technologies that might be used in future road cars including energy recuperation technology depending on results from F1 development.

"We are always looking to see how we can transfer our technology from racing to road cars—as we have in the last 10 years," he said.

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