Driven: 'Stop-Start' Ferrari California


Despite often repeated opinion that buyers of exotic cars don't give a fig about fuel consumption or the environment, Ferrari is offering a 'greener' version of its £143,870 California, writes Russell Bray.

The good news is that with more efficiency comes a little more power to enjoy. It's called the optional HELE system, for 'high emotions, low emissions' (hmm, not sure about that), and integrates Ferrari's first automatic stop-start system, with 'intelligent' control of the engine fans and fuel pumps, along with electronic control of the air-conditioning compressor and variable gear-shift patterns according to recent driving style.


Ferrari says the stop-start system can cut fuel consumption in heavy traffic by up to 15% and exhaust emissions fall by up to 23% with all the systems considered. Using a CPU to control the air conditioning compressor not only cools the cabin more quickly but reduces by 35% the torque absorbed by the compressor.

Power used by the fuel pumps and the engine fans are both cut by 25%. At high motorway speeds engine fans 'coasting' or running quickly increases aerodynamic drag, so they are adjusted according to speed and engine need resulting in a five per cent drag reduction.

Under normal running conditions all these measures mean the 453bhp, 4.3 V8 engine has an extra 25 Nm of torque available to boost throttle response.


Bearing in mind the cost of re-homologation Ferrari does not quote performance benefits, still stating that using launch control the California can accelerate from rest to 60mph in under four seconds and reach a top speed of 193mph. According to previous official figures the California achieves 21.2mpg on the combined cycle.

Ferrari was determined that the California's stop-start system wouldn't harm the visceral driving experience and after a morning blasting round the hills and in turgid traffic in Modena it's pleasing to report that it doesn't.


In traffic you can't really feel when it's in Diet Coke mode, and all the aggro returns with only tiny throttle movements. A couple of times there was a slight lurch as the 4.3 litre V8 cut, but you notice the silence more just as when a Grand Prix engine stops instantly.

Because some Ferrari drivers use their left foot to brake in two pedal models which now dominate sales, the engine fires up if you touch the accelerator pedal as well as if you take your foot off the brake or pull the right hand gear change paddle for an 'up' shift.

The re-start time is officially 230 milliseconds which near instant and so effective this is the first stop-start I wouldn't be tempted to turn off. And you can still blip the engine at traffic lights.


As regards UK road tax even though CO2 emissions have been cut from 299g to 270g/km the car is still in band M with £435 tax after the first year's £950 tax, but it's still an impressive achievement.

By Ferrari pricing standards, when the yellow paint job on the current UK 458 Italia press car is £18,000 extra, £820 isn't much for the stop-start system and other gubbins. Green fig leaf anyone?

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (21) Join the discussion on the forum

  • f328nvl 12 Oct 2010

    Russell Bray said:
    Hello f328nvl. It's Russell Bray. Despite the Chris R and Riggers by-lines that have appeared I wrote the California piece that has caused you to vent your spleen.
    And I did do my homework unlike your goodself. The manual gearbox Ferrari California does exist - though there are thought to be only two in the UK which perhaps is a reflection of the type of drivers Ferraris now attract - and would be my choice as it saves about 30kg in weight and I think delivers a more involving drive.
    My dictionary defines visceral as "felt by the internal organs of the body" and as the California will sprint from rest to 100mph in about nine seconds (nine seconds dead according to evo) and from rest to 140mph in 18.5 seconds I would argue you certainly feel it in your inner being.
    The last V8 S4 I tried took 13.7s to 100mph and 21 seconds to 125mph (compared to 13.2s for the Ferrari) so something must have been wrong with the California you drove if it felt like your Audi.
    Or perhaps you were pressing the wrong pedal!
    Sorry you are absolutely right, the manual was announced in March 2010; as I looked at and drove California's when they launched I hadn't kept abreast of the new gearbox, they have only just started delivering them.

    However, oh dear - I look under the bonnet and find that my DSG S4 has a supercharged V6, not the old V8. I can't be bothered to Google the 0-100mph, I was talking about how it feels to me when I drive it, not Top Trumps statistics. Having driven both, the California does not feel, and is not intended to feel, "visceral": It is intended to be, and is, a softer Ferrari that feels to me alot like my S4. It's the gearbox that does it.. I'd read James May on the subject, he caught the strangeness of the instant change well I thought. Each to their own though..

    By the way, my spleen is fine thank you. Having owned a couple, I just don't think every review of a Ferrari should be full of Hyperbole.

    Why are the bylines wrong as a matter of interest?

  • Streetrod 09 Oct 2010

    johnpeat said:
    £18K for yellow paint? They're just taking the piss now I think...

    £4K for a stripe and however many thousands the shields on the wings cost was bad enough - is the yellow paint made from Foie Gras or something?
    £18K, taking the piss!! What a wonderful understatement. The preparation and spraying of any paint is virtually all the same on a new car. If I'm not mistaken Ferrari use PPG paints on their cars. The unit cost to me as a consumer for the paint required to cover a California would at worst be about £1100 - £1300, and that’s for the good stuff. Ferrari would get it for a lot less. Actual prep and spray time required for a brand new car would be no more than four hours I suspect. And one last thing, Ferrari's are painted by robots, not by hand. So to charge £18k I personally find offensive. And lets be honest the paint finish on Ferrari's is not exactly the best around

    Edited by Streetrod on Friday 8th October 16:53

  • Russell Bray 09 Oct 2010

    MogulBoy said:
    This sounds (geddit?) like a great idea as the little roar that is engineered into the start up of these modern butterfly-valve equipped fruity exhausts is certainly cool. I will also assume that you can turn the system off if/when you don't want to use it.

    There is a fair amount of PR "pish" in the above article though regarding the potential energy savings...

    "Because some Ferrari drivers use their left foot to brake in two pedal models which now dominate sales, the engine fires up if you touch the accelerator pedal as well as if you take your foot off the brake or pull the right hand gear change paddle for an 'up' shift."

    errr, surely it can't be both!

    When the engine is running left foot braking will not cut the engine (unless you brake to a standstill, upon which it should stop it, as it is intended to do) but by default, the engine will either restart as you lift your foot off the brake OR when you touch the accelerator, but it cannot start it twice! LOL!
    Hello Mogulboy.
    Lacking my own testing laboratory I had to take Ferrari's claimed savings (fuel consumption cut in heavy traffic by up to 15% and exhaust emissions by up to 23%, short-shifting in auto 8% etc) as quoted but in my experience Ferrari are pd precise these days.
    The overall fuel consumption reduction might be in the region of 10%, meaning 23.3mpg on the combined cycle compared to 21.2mpg.

    The key words in the paragraph about the engine restarting are 'either' and 'or.'
    It will restart if you take your foot off the brake, it will restart if you pull the 'up' paddle (foot still on the brake), it will restart if you press the accelerator (foot still on the brake). Quite obviously the engine can't restart twice.

    Equally obviously the engine only shuts down (whether you left or right foot brake) when the car comes to a halt (which is when people who habitually left foot brake tend to keep their foot on the brake - and dazzle everyone behind at night which is a separate issue)

    You can turn the system off, and when it restarts it doesn't sound as fruity because the engine only revs momentarily to 1200rpm instead of the usual 1700rpm.



  • Russell Bray 09 Oct 2010

    Hello f328nvl. It's Russell Bray. Despite the Chris R and Riggers by-lines that have appeared I wrote the California piece that has caused you to vent your spleen.
    And I did do my homework unlike your goodself. The manual gearbox Ferrari California does exist - though there are thought to be only two in the UK which perhaps is a reflection of the type of drivers Ferraris now attract - and would be my choice as it saves about 30kg in weight and I think delivers a more involving drive.
    My dictionary defines visceral as "felt by the internal organs of the body" and as the California will sprint from rest to 100mph in about nine seconds (nine seconds dead according to evo) and from rest to 140mph in 18.5 seconds I would argue you certainly feel it in your inner being.
    The last V8 S4 I tried took 13.7s to 100mph and 21 seconds to 125mph (compared to 13.2s for the Ferrari) so something must have been wrong with the California you drove if it felt like your Audi.
    Or perhaps you were pressing the wrong pedal!

  • yellowgriff 08 Oct 2010

    Giallo is the standard straight yellow. It been used for years. Ordinary water based paint not a pearl

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