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Ferrari California 2011 Review

A brief test drive of the HELE model emphatically demonstrates there is no down-side to this technology.

Supercar makers are acting quickly to "green-up" their cars in the face of ever tightening emissions limits across the globe. But it's not a gloom and doom story for died-in-the-wool petrol heads as demonstrated by Ferrari with its California HELE (High Emotion Low Emissions) model.

It's the vanguard of other HELE models in the Ferrari range that may eventually all feature the planet-saving technology used in the California. For some reason, Ferrari still makes a non-HELE version of the California though we don't know why.


A brief test drive of the HELE model emphatically demonstrates there is no down-side to this technology. It is exactly the same, possibly better to drive than the non-HELE model thanks to engine stop/start and other features such as a weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and an adaptive, seven-speed double clutch gearbox.

Engineers went into detail to save emissions particularly via reduced electricity demands. They improved efficiency using an air conditioner compressor with variable displacement, brushless electric engine-cooling fans, an on-demand electric fuel pump and other little tricks.

The net result is a significant reduction in fuel consumption now down to 11.5-litres/100km on the combined cycle. This in turn reduces carbon dioxide emissions to 270g/km _ or a little better than Falcon or Commodore sixes. This also represents a 23 per cent reduction compared with the standard California. All this with no loss of the exhilarating performance and driving experience for which Ferrari is renowned.

California HELE is still capable of dispatching the dash to 100kmh in less than four seconds and going on to a top speed, where the law permits, of 310 kmh.

The HELE package enhances driving performance by releasing torque (+25Nm) from more mundane purposes to lift responsiveness.


On our drive, the California HELE showed whip cracking performance and gear changes along with superlative handling qualities.

It remains a joy to hear especially with the roof off.

The stop/start system is unobtrusive and the fact that the HELE car uses less fuel is a bonus because you don't have to visit the service station as frequently.

Ferrari has taken its green efforts further by implementing extensive environmentally sustainable systems at its Maranello factory _ solar power, rainwater harvesting, gardens in the factory.

It is completely autonomous for its energy requirements. This reduction also means that Ferrari will meet the Kyoto protocol objectives a full 10 years ahead of schedule and with double the figure imposed on Europe.

For some reason the California attracts a premium of $2750 for technology that should be adopted across the board and not cost any extra.


Price: $462,400
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres
Resale: 63%
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Safety equipment: ABS, EBD, EBA , TC
Crash rating: 5 stars
Engine: 4.3-litre V8; 338kW/510Nm
Body: 2-door, 2-seater
Dimensions: 4563mm (L); 1308 (H); 1902 (W); 2670 (WB)
Weight: 1735kg
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto; RWD
Economy: 11.5L/100km; 270g/km CO2

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Range and Specs

(base) 4.3L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $118,700 – 150,040 2011 Ferrari California 2011 (base) Pricing and Specs