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Turbocharging could return to the prancing horse with the next Ferrari California

The California is a car which Ferrari purists have never been entirely comfortable with. For these people, a front-engine Ferrari should have a V12, while V8 models should be smaller and mid-engine. So, as Autocar reports, Ferrari could now be addressing this problem by throwing in that other thing which famously makes the purists squirm: forced induction. A lightly camouflaged California test mule was spotted on Ferrari’s Fiorano proving grounds recently, and the addition of new vents — as well as an exhaust note that onlookers swear sounded like that of a turbocharged mill — have aroused suspicions. But that’s not all, the California shares its V8 engine with the Maserati Quattroporte, a new version of which recently debuted with a turbocharged version of the engine.

Of course, this wouldn’t be Ferrari’s first turbocharged model. The now-legendary 288 GTO and F40 models of the 1980s both employed turbocharging, but historically, Ferrari has preferred naturally-aspirated engines. They’ve never had a road car with a turbocharged V12 though, and it’s likely that their bigger and more expensive models will continue to breathe normally for the time being. The fate of whatever comes after the 458 Italia is now also potentially in question, since this too uses a version of the same V8 that is found in the California. A modern-day version of the F40 certainly sounds promising, but an overall trend toward downsizing, something that Ferrari has already confirmed they would be looking into, feels a bit like the end of an era. So is a front-engine turbocharged V8 car still a Ferrari? It seems we’ll have to wait until 2014 or possibly even 2015 to find out.