No. It’s because the company’s engineers are as concerned about the character of a turbocharged Ferrari as you or I might be. Ferraris are meant to rev stratospherically. They’re meant to get faster as they move up the rev-range. They’re meant to sing. They’re meant to feel naturally aspirated.
So in short gears the California T’s torque is capped – to around 440lb ft in first, second and third – and the torque increases with revs. In higher gears it peaks earlier and the slope is flatter, until you reach the full-whack, table-top curve of seventh.
The idea is that the T feels more like a naturally aspirated car in low gears – Ferrari makes some bold claims about the response times of the twin-scroll turbos – but is as lazily responsive as a GT car should be in higher gears. Does it work? We’ll come back to it.
Elsewhere, the exterior panels, save those for the unchanged roof, are all different. The interior has been looked over; the dashboard refined; leather upgraded; a boost monitor (all but unreadable in sunlight) added; and the communications screen refreshed (for one that still lags behind the best).
And, finally, underneath there are 12 percent stiffer springs, a 10 percent quicker steering rack (not that I remember thinking it needed one) and the latest-generation magnetorheological dampers – they can stiffen or soften very quickly, is what you need to know about those.
Is it better than its predecessor? Yes. Leagues better. The old California wasn’t a duffer, but it never quite pulled off the trick of either riding properly or maintaining correct control of its body movements. This one does both, at the same time. In fact, it rides particularly well, regardless of in which position (Comfort or Sport) you place the manettino, which brings stiffer damping. Ferrari couldn't resist tinkering with the California further, and subsquently produced the HS (or Handling Specialé) which quickly became our pick of the range with its stonking ability.
It’s not as tied-down as a 458 Italia, say, but then it’s not meant to be. Some 70 percent of California buyers are new to the brand and “they’re not the same type of guys” who buy mid-engined Fandangos, so there’s precious little crossover.
But whereas you’d wonder if the old California really represented Ferrari, or whether it was an extension too far for the badge, the California T feels like a product of Maranello should.
So it’s responsive; eager. The engine, you could argue, is a bit on the quiet side, perhaps inevitably given it’s a turbo, but it still has a flat-plane crank and quite a lot of work has gone into creating equal-length exhaust manifolds. That means it still sounds raw and clean and crisp like a flat-plane V8 should, rather than like a Subaru, as far as I can tell from the simulation Ferrari played us. But it is fairly quiet.
And in those lower gears the sensation of increasing urge really is there. Peak power is present right through the last 1000rpm to the 7500rpm redline (high for a turbo), so there’s pleasure to be had from wringing the Ferrari's engine out.
There’s not a lot of turbo lag in lower gears (you notice it a little, but that’s inevitable), and while there’s more lag in higher gears, you’re rewarded with more urge without having to shift down or work the engine hard, so it makes for a fine grand tourer. But for what noticeable lag there is, this isn’t a frustrating engine. Response, at higher revs, is genuinely impressive whatever the aspiration.