It’s finally here, Ferrari’s first-ever roadgoing V6 model with a plug-in hybrid system. The name may be as unimaginative as most new Ferraris but the 296 GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) is certainly an exciting creation.
We’ll start with the performance numbers. The 296GTB has a 3-litre twin-turbo V6 which is the rear mid-mounted engine that produces 654bhp and revs up to 8500rpm. Combined with the rear-mounted electric motor, the hybrid powertrain has a total output of 818bhp and 740Nm of torque. Ferrari claims a 0-100kph time of 2.9 seconds, onto 200kph in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of over 330kph. The 296 GTB uses the same 8-speed DCT as seen in the SF90 and Roma but it has been adapted to suit the characteristics of the new powertrain. The whole car has a dry weight of just 1,470kg.
In the official release, many paragraphs delve into the development details of the engine and its various components, all of which are beyond my comprehension. But the short version is that Ferrari used a lot of high-end materials that would offer a balance of durability and performance, intricately designed various components for increased performance and heat management, and kept the overall package small and lightweight. The turbos are housed in the 120-degree vee of the engine (a hot-vee configuration which is something we discussed at the debut of the McLaren Artura) for a compact design and lower centre of gravity. The hybrid system is inherited from Ferrari’s F1 race tech and so it has an MGU-K system as well which is housed between the engine and the gearbox. The electric motor and the engine communicate via something called the Transition Manager Actuator for seamless power delivery from both parts of the hybrid powertrain as required.
Let’s talk a bit more about the electric side of things. The 7.45kWh high voltage battery pack with 80 cells is good for a claimed 25km range in eDrive mode. There’s also a clever regen braking system to ensure there’s enough juice in the battery for a driver to tap into all of the 818bhp when needed. The eManettino on its steering wheel has four modes to choose from: eDrive, H for hybrid, Performance and Qualify (at the cost of reducing the battery charge function during the hot lap). While Ferrari has not won any F1 world titles in a long time or set any lap records at the Nürburgring, you can count on the Maranello brand to deliver an exciting road car that is packed with clever tech to try and ensure you can enjoy the performance without crashing right away.
With the numbers out of the way, we can begin to admire how the 296 GTB looks. It looks quite good, pretty even. From some angles, it looks like a baby version of the SF90 Stradale. Various aspects of the car’s design seem to take inspiration from many previous Ferraris. The overall styling is quite clean with vents hidden in the bodywork, a visor-style windscreen and flying buttresses. Its shape, especially the B-pillar and the air intakes integrated into the rear haunches are inspired by the 250 LM from 1963. Meanwhile, that windscreen styling that wraps around till the side windows is similar to the design seen on limited-edition models like the J50 and P80/C. The new platform has a 50mm shorter wheelbase than the F8 Tributo, the compact design possible thanks to the compact engine package.
Its front end is quite tapered and pointy which is in line with the styling of new Ferraris while also aiding its aerodynamics. There are vents integrated into the headlight design to channel cool air to the front brakes while the intakes that feed the front radiators help cool the engine and gearbox. The hot air is evacuated along the underbody of the 296 GTB which aids the downforce effect for better handling. There is also a tea-tray kind of suspended wing that hangs from the front end of the car, inspired by F1, for better driving dynamics.
The car’s rear-end design is dominated by the large rear diffuser and the central single-exit exhaust. Its active rear spoiler is stowed in the upper section of the tail between the taillamps which offers an extra 100kg of downforce when deployed (pops up and slides back into camouflage when not in use). In the track-focused Asseto Fiorano variant, it adds upto 360kg of downforce at 250kph in high-downforce configuration.
While the 296 GTB gets a distinctive cockpit design, much of the driver console is borrowed from the SF90 Stradale. The steering wheel, the central console with the H-pattern controls, the digital driver’s display and the control panels on either side of the wheel all look the same. There is also a passenger-side display like the one in the V12 grand tourers. While it gets a plush leather interior as standard, the track version is more stripped out with lots of extra carbon fibre and racing seats.
The Assetto Fiorano version also features race-derived suspension, more carbon fibre for the bodywork and is also available with stickier Michelin Sport Cup2R tyres. It also gets the special livery that is inspired by the one seen on the 250 Le Mans racer. We’ve seen this colour combo before on the 812 Competizione and the Monza while the livery theme was seen with the track pack of the SF90 Stradale as well.
Ferrari has also done a fair bit of sound engineering for the 296 GTB, from the positioning and shape of the engine to the design of the exhaust. The idea is to have an engine that gets louder and high-pitched as the revs go higher. Based on the audio clips from the carmaker, this car sounds as good as it looks.
The team claims that the core development focus for the 296 GTB was to make it fun to drive with a go-kart kind of feel. To that effect, they developed a new 6-way chassis dynamic sensor that helps control the electronic aspect of the driving dynamics in terms of power delivery, braking, stability and traction. The 6w-CDS measures the acceleration and speed of rotation on three axes (X, Y and Z) which enables the vehicle dynamic controls to better read the car’s behaviour and optimise their interventions. It also features the latest version of the Side Slip Control (SSC) system and a new ABS evo braking system for shorter stopping distances and reduces brake fade too.
The Maranello team has officially stated that the 296 GTB is not a replacement for any of its current model lines, but an addition to their portfolio just like the SUV will be when it arrives. This gives reason to hope that we’ll get a proper successor to the V8 non-hybrid line and at least one more V12 model by the end of the decade.
The Ferrari 296 GTB packs a LOT of performance which means it’ll likely be priced close to €250,000. That’s around the same as a well-specced McLaren Artura which doesn’t offer as many horsepowers. It will also be rivalling its Italian cousin, the Maserati MC20. The first-hand reviews of the 296GTB and the Artura will reveal how different or how similar these cars really are.
What do you think of the 296 GTB? Would you have it over an F8 Tributo or a McLaren Artura? Do you think turbo V6 hybrids are going to become the standard for performance cars in the future, as V8s have been to date? Share your thoughts and answers in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more cool updates from the car world.