Ferrari is all set to unveil its first fully-automatic transmission vehicle at the Paris Motor Show in October this year. The car, called the California, will be a convertible grand tourer with a folding hardtop, powered by a V8 engine that sits towards the front, and is expected to retail around $300,000.
For the first time in a Ferrari, there will be no manual gearbox option and power will be 30bhp down on the entry-level F430 Scuderia (entry-level for Ferrari buyers, that is). Engine revolutions will be lower and torque slightly increased, all signs that this car is much more of a luxurious tourer than a hardcore sports car.
A Ferrari spokesman confirmed the car's touring pedigree when he said that the car ''is not a screamer'', and described it as ''not track-based and not about power'', while being more drivable.
California is a name that Ferrari has often used in the past for its open-top cars, but the latest model will feature a folding hard-top with two-plus-two seating. It will be powered by a naturally-aspirated 4.3-litre V8 engine which delivers 453bhp at 7,500rpm – enough to propel it from zero to 100 kmph in less than four seconds.
The engine will be married to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for a smoother drive. Although the engine is in the front of the car, it's set back behind the front axle so, is what's called "front mid-engined". Carbon dioxide emissions will be about 310g/km, making it the most environment-friendly Ferrari ever.
Traction control will be supplied by the F1-Trac system from the 599 GTB Fiorano. Ferrari promises more innovations to come on the California, including a new rear-seat/boot layout which has yet to be finalised.
Ferrari expects to appeal to a wider audience with the California, including women and more customers in emerging markets. The car is expected to hit the stores in early 2009.