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

  • MogulBoy 01 Oct 2010

    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!

  • Roberty 01 Oct 2010

    MogulBoy said:
    This sounds (geddit?)
    No, no I don't?

  • Gizmo! 01 Oct 2010

    article said:
    And you can still blip the engine at traffic lights.
    Ferrari drivers, eh wink

    Edited by Gizmo! on Friday 1st October 13:14

  • anything fast 01 Oct 2010

    why do some new ferrari look so ugly?

    replace the badges with nissan Z's and this could easily look like a nissan 370 z or some other blob....

    good looking ferrari's?

    250 GTO
    288 GTO
    F40
    308
    458 Italia (only modern one i think thats properly good looking)

    and sadly very few modern ones....


  • soad 01 Oct 2010

    Think I'd much prefer 599 over this scratchchin
    Yeah, sure thing.

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