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Ferrari California hardens up

The droptop baby is losing weight and getting more power and more cornering grip with the creation of the California Handling Speciale, which will also bridge the considerable gap to the hard-edged 458 Italia. 

The California HS is just about to go public at the Geneva motor show and the first owners will get their cars in Australia before the end of the year.

They will be paying more for the car than the $459,650 of the regular model, just as Ferrari charged more for the HGTE package on the V12-engined 599, although no-one in Australia has the details. 

"Yes, there will be an additional charge for this car as it is a different variant. As to what that price will be, it is too early to say," says Ferrari spokesman, Edward Rowe. 

Work on the HS includes an extra 22 kiloWatts through exhaust and computer map changes, a 30 kilogram weight cut, magnetically-controlled dampers with faster controls, and sharper steering thanks to a 10 per cent quicker steering rack. There are also more paint colours. 

Ferrari claims the bottom line is a reduced 0-100km/h time of 3.8 seconds and more driver enjoyment. 

"The changes are to ensure that the California maintains its lead over its rivals and to introduce new technological solutions as they become available. They broaden the appeal of the California as well maintaining its performance edge over its opposition," says Rowe. 

"It's as it was with the 599 HGTE, which provided a similar more aggressive version of the 599 for customers looking for a sharper performance edge." 

The California is now Australia's favourite Ferrari, although there is a waiting list of close to two years for the 458. It has also brought new owners to the brand because of things like the boot space and two-plus-two cabin. 

"The California has brought new customers to the brand, 70 per cent in Australia and similar figures around the world, and provides owners with a car that can easily be used as an everyday car." Apart from the California HS, Ferrari has just begin deliveries of the all-new FF and the first 458 Spiders arrive towards the middle of the year. 

In Europe, Ferrari is close to the unveiling of the replacement for its V12-powered 599 and the car should reach Australia in 2013.

The Italian brand has lifted the pace of change across its lineup and is promising its first hybrid model soon, as well as an all-new supercar - the successor to the Enzo - before 2014 and the sharper-edged 458 Stradale models based on the company's race cars.