Ferrari: green is the new red
Worrying about the environment is not a concern you’d historically associate with Ferrari, but no one is immune from the global responsibility to decrease carbon emissions, not even niche
manufacturers, and the Italian stallion must play its part.
Hence a five-year plan, launched in 2007, to reduce CO2 across its range by 40 per cent, and, to help achieve this target, an optional little bag of tricks called the Hele (High Emotion Low Emission) system. Available on all models, this comprises “intelligent” control of fans, continuous control of the fuel pumps and adaptable shift pattern for different driving styles, an electronic variable capacity air-con compressor, and the most noticeable to drivers: a stop/start system.
Ferrari claims the stop/start system will save fuel in heavy urban congestion by up to 15 per cent. With the Hele system in place (an extra £984), quoted emissions go from 299g/km to 270g/km. So this could indeed be the very supercar for crowded British roads, but how does it perform in real-world driving?
The obvious worry, I thought as I tootled around Tunbridge Wells last Saturday morning, the town humming with shoppers, is that people will think you’ve stalled your Fezza each time the engine cuts out, and are therefore a rich nincompoop with more money than ability. Also, being a girl, I’d definitely be laughed at for not knowing how to control 460bhp.
Not so. Unlike a real engine stall, the car doesn’t lurch forward or bark its demise; it just dies, and a lot more quietly than if you were in a manual and let the clutch out in gear. It also restarts in 230 milliseconds, less time than it takes you to move your foot to the throttle pedal.
In a Ferrari, I decided on the high street, stop/start can actually be a laugh, because people who hadn’t noticed you at traffic lights will do when you lift off the brake and the V8 booms back into life. And who doesn’t want to be recognised in a supercar in their home town?
This system is more than a distracted nod in the direction of annoying European emissions legislation, however. Careful thought has gone into avoiding the drawbacks of other manufacturers’ stop/start systems. So the engine won’t cut out if the steering wheel is at an angle, as it imagines you are at a roundabout or junction and therefore might not be lingering.
Similarly, if it senses you are poised on an incline at a junction or are parking, it will keep running. Ferrari can’t give a precise steering or incline angle under which the system operates; instead it says: “The system operates using a bespoke and very complex set of algorithms which was developed specifically by Ferrari, and these take into consideration a number of different parameters to decide if the car should stop or not.”
So on the plus side, it works with more flexibility than a one-size-fits-all mass-manufacturer system, but on the minus side, the driver is never going to know for sure how the car will behave at each junction, which I found a little unnerving in our £202,000 test vehicle.
It does, however, have an automatic hold if the engine cuts out on an incline, which it did at a busy set of traffic lights when I was waiting to turn right on a steep hill. I held my breath as I lifted my foot off the brake, and the car duly held while the engine started and I touched the throttle to move off.
If you can’t be bothered with the extra worry that stop/start sometimes induces, or you’re trying not to be noticed (wrong car for that one), then there is a button in the roof lining to deactivate the system. But really Ferrari’s stop/start is an unobtrusive, sensitive and worthwhile addition. Add it to the options.