Ferrari California HELE Review
Ferrari California: Can team red go green?
Ferrari California HELE
Yep, they're serious. Those famously fanatical (and precious!) performance types at Ferrari are building greener cars. And of course they have an acronym for it - HELE, which stands for 'High Emotion, Low Emissions'. No, Japanese linguists weren't involved.
What HELE stands for in the 'entry-level' California is a series of energy-saving enhancements designed to reduce CO2 emissions and consumption while making the California a "demonstrably better car by all the traditional Ferrari measures".
What this means for the California's hippie credentials is a sizeable efficiency improvement in several key areas, while actually making it a more driveable car.
The Maranello boffins have hardly re-invented the wheel, but the headline numbers speak for themselves.
The 338kW 4.3-litre V8's combined consumption figure is down from 13.1L/100km to an impressive 11.5, while its urban figure drops from 19.0L/100km to 16.5. The engine produces an additional 25Nm of torque, yet its CO2 emissions have been reduced from 299g/km to 270.
To put that in perspective, even Mercedes-Benz's highly-refined SL500 emits 286g/km, while the Bentley Continental GT belches out 384. Even a petrol Toyota HiAce produces 294g/km.
So what have they done to it? Well, stop/start (the console button which is the only way to tell the HELE car) headlines a bunch of well-thought-out initiatives intended to improve both vehicle and engine efficiency.
There are two start protocols - cold start and quick start (which happens in just 230 milliseconds) - making the California's stop/start system is one of the most perceptive and least annoying on the market. Two-stage cooling fans only run at the speed which they're required, and the fuel pump constantly varies its flow - only pumping the amount to the engine that's required at any given point.
The air-con runs an electronic, not pneumatic, variable-displacement compressor that responds faster and more accurately, and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has had its adaptive shift function re-programmed to more effectively use engine torque.
What Ferrari's efficiency measures haven't done is dilute the superb 4.3-litre V8's high-revving nature. There's still that wonderfully loud and anti-social induction/exhaust bark at start-up and glorious top-end wail that Ferrari V8s are renowned for, yet compared to the non-HELE Cali', this car feels significantly torquier.
Get determined with the throttle and the California will still hit 100km/h in 4.0sec, on its way to 310km/h. But it's nice to know you're doing your bit for the environment, however small, even though you'll need to pay an insignificant $2750 to option it.
FERRARI CALIFORNIA HELE
ENGINE: 4297cc V8, DOHC, 32v
POWER: 338kW @ 7750rpm
TORQUE: 510Nm @ 5000rpm
GEARBOX: 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100KM/H: 4.0sec (claimed)
TOP SPEED: 310km/h (claimed)
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