Ferrari 296 GTB – Test, Video, Review, Price
It’s been nearly 50 years since a six-cylinder engine powered a Ferrari. If you think his return to the Ferrari 296 GTB is just for nostalgia, you’re wrong. The new Italian supercar is as much a technological tour de force as an emotional reminder. Some call it the “little SF90”.
The term “small”, in fact, should never be used to describe the 296 GTB because there is nothing small about it except perhaps its overall dimensions. It’s a very compact and lightweight Ferrari, not to mention that it’s Maranello’s first rear-drive-only plug-in hybrid sports car, which is set to unload 830 horsepower of combined power from its electrified powertrain.
Given the importance of this car, Ferrari invited us to Andalusia, a region with great roads and a circuit with an immediate speed of over 280 km/h, to thoroughly test the world’s newest prancing horse.
In person, the 296 GTB is surprisingly small. But its style is also striking in the way its lines oscillate between form and function, while also referencing important elements from the brand’s past.
In fact, it looks like Centro Stile Ferrari has redefined the boundaries of the mid-rear-engine berlinetta concept. For example, the architecture of the cabin visor goes well with the polished and tapered front part, where the teardrop-shaped light beams stand out, with the single-mouth grille in the center which, in the lower part, gives way to a suspended carbon wing, clearly derived from Formula 1.
Looking at the rear of the 296 GTB, you can’t help but see flashes of the fabulous Ferrari 250 LM from the 60s. The stubby tail, the wide wheel arches and the particular B-pillar make it obvious, and the housing is closed when the groups of light, obviously LEDs, come into play.
In such a formal context, the exhaust, with its central positioning, is a pinch of mischief and leaves more space on each side for the cooling grilles and the striker extractor below. Finally, the standard wheel design is very sculptural, but you can also opt for carbon fiber wheels (optional) which offer an 18-pound weight reduction.
The interior of the 296 GTB uses the same interface as the SF90 Stradalewith digital instrumentation dedicated to the driver which is almost entirely managed by controls on the steering wheel, while the passenger can vary the options in front of him thanks to an intuitive touch screen.
The interior design is minimalist, but rich in quality finishes, with several references to the past, such as, for example, the beautiful reproduction of a chrome gearbox grille now dedicated to the DCT gearbox configuration.
Is a “definitive” Ferrari it’s both fast and usable really exists? Maybe that’s it. What’s most impressive about the 296 GTB is how quickly the driver gains confidence behind the wheel of a rear-drive super sports car with – and we repeat – 830bhp.
Going much more than “fast” feels incredibly natural in the 296 GTB, which is due to a mix of features: a low center of gravity, low weight (3,241 pounds, 59.5% on the rear axle) , reduced overhangs , and ergonomics that immediately establish a physical and lasting link with the steering wheel and pedals.
Its hybrid V6 performance on the track makes you forget about those missing two cylinders, with a sound that can’t mimic the full-bodied V6 of Ferrari’s past, but still satisfies with its intensity and soul. The 8-speed DCT gearbox offers no uncertainty in its passages and the tachometer has no respite because, as on the SF90, it is well coupled to its rechargeable hybrid engine.
And, by the way, the MGU-K2 electric motor contributes 167 hp (or 122 kW if you prefer) to that magical 830 hp mentioned above and is powered by a high-voltage battery consisting of 80 laser-welded cells located in the floor, with a capacity of 7.45 kWh.
The 296 GTB offers four driving modes – eDrive, Hybrid, Performance and Qualify – which increase the intensity of the car’s performance. On track, we rode in Performance and Qualify modes. If you want more roominess than all-out performance, Performance mode is best and will increase your battery life, although it offers around 40 hp less than Qualify mode.
Braking, meanwhile, exceeded expectations thanks to the launch of a new system. Called ABS EVO, this system makes it possible to tighten with precision even in turns, something very rare on a road car.
We eventually ditched the track in favor of public roads, switching to Hybrid mode for more maneuverability. Even in hybrid mode, however, this Berlinetta is exciting.
It’s also admirably fuel-efficient, with its EV mode always at the forefront of engagement, extending powertrain performance and improving mileage, not to mention zipping around town in total silence in a Ferrari has proven quirky, as much as fun.
Even though it’s been a while since we’ve had a V6 in a Ferrari, that doesn’t mean the engine setup hasn’t always been one of Ferrari’s “workhorses”. Indeed, the V6 has played a preponderant role at Maranello since 1957 in the single-seater Dino 156 F2, then in a 65° configuration. Then, in the years to come, the V6 continued to make Ferrari famous everywhere, on the road with the Dino 246 GT, on the circuit with many Sports cars and single-seaters, and even in Rally, thanks to the Lancia Stratos. , notoriously powered by Ferrari.
And today, the tradition resumes since 1973, when the V6 engine gave way to the 8 cylinder. The 296 GTB’s V6 is opened 120° in order to house two turbochargers inside the V. Of the 296 GTB’s 830 bhp, a good 663 comes from this efficient engine which – on paper – produces an incredible 221 hp/litre. That’s the highest power-per-displacement ratio we could find behind the Koenigsegg Jesko’s insane 313.6 hp/litre.
Ferrari customers have traditionally been able to choose from a fascinating list of available options, and the 296 GTB is no exception. The options you have chosen are revealed on a special plate visible by opening the (large) front trunk.
Excluding options, Italian prices for the Ferrari 296 GTB start at 269,000 euros ($300,000), while the bar is raised to 302,000 euros ($337,000) if you want the more capable Assetto Fiorano package. The difference is justified by specific equipment geared towards track performance as well as a weight reduction of 33 pounds). Together they improve the car’s lap time at Fiorano by half a second over the standard 296 GTB.
The Assetto Fiorano pack also includes fixed-tuned Multimatic shock absorbers, titanium springs, high-loaded carbon fiber appendages on the front bumper and, in addition to other optimisations, an exclusive livery inspired by the 250 car Le Mans.