HELE. Not one of the greats as far as Ferrari acronyms go, is it? That it stands for High Emotion Low Emission adds not a dash of romance. Still, the introduction of Maranello’s eco initiative, which is making its debut on the California, is nothing to fret over.
Initial concerns over noise and speed of restart for the new Stop&Start system are unfounded: the burst of V8 bark emitted by the California upon pressing the starter button is muted for stop/start activity, where start-up times drop from 700 milliseconds to 230. The result is basically seamless.
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Further chipping away at CO2 (down from 299g/km to 270, which, yes, makes naff-all difference to how much tax you’ll pay) are advanced control of the cooling fans, which now use brushless motors, honing of the fuel pump and gearbox operation, and a more efficient air-con compressor.
All that saved energy provides an extra 18lb ft to bolster the existing 358lb ft (power and quoted performance are unchanged), and while the California is still not Ferrari’s sharpest car, its qualities remain intact: the flat-plane-crank V8 is effortlessly dramatic, the folding hard-top excellent, and there’s no shortage of long-legged cruising ability.
The key point is that the addition of the Stop&Start system (an £820 option from November, and standard from 2011) and the other HELE technology that comes with it isn’t to the detriment of the driving experience. And that’s really quite important, because it’s likely to be rolled out across the Ferrari range before you can say Gran Turismo Omologato.
|Max power||453bhp @ 7750rpm|
|Max torque||376lb ft @ 5000rpm|
|Top speed||193mph (claimed)|