Welcome, everybody, to Ferrari’s future, filled with electrified powertrains and downsized engines – and if “downsizing” can still look (and sound) this amazing, we’re all in. This is the Ferrari 296 GTB, and it’s a two-door, two-seater addition to the 458, 488, and F8 line-up that started what seems like aeons ago now. But aside from that, the 296 GTB is truly unlike any other car Ferrari has ever put on the roads.
And the reason for that is none other than the powertrain behind the 296 GTB’s passenger compartment – Ferrari’s first-ever V6 engine in a production model… well, technically. No, we’re not forgetting the Dino, but the historic model was never actually branded as a Ferrari, so this statement is technically correct, even though it sounds more like a marketing statement than anything else.
That’s also ignoring the many V6 Ferrari engines that has won a myriad of races in the company’s motorsports history. But aside from the cylinder count and layout, it’s actually a very different beast from what’s come before.
The 2,992 cc displacement and six cylinders gives the car its name (which should technically be called 306 if we’re being pedantic, but we don’t have to explain why it isn’t named that). But crucially, the engine is set-up in a 120-degree hot vee layout, making enough space to fit both its turbochargers in between the cylinders, while allowing it to be placed lower in the body and thus, lowering the centre of gravity.
The twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 engine by itself makes 663 hp, which Ferrari claims is a new record for “specific power output”, at 221 hp/l. But that’s not all you’re getting on the Ferrari 296 GTB, because there’s also an electric motor on the rear axle, sandwiched between the engine and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which raises the total system output to 830 hp and 740 Nm.
With that amount of power (110 hp more than the F8 Tributo’s 3.9-litre V8), the 296 GTB rockets to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, and 200 km/h in 7.3 seconds, onward to a top speed in excess of 330 km/h (135 km/h on pure electric mode).
The performance is complemented by an all-new chassis that’s 50 mm shorter in wheelbase compared to the F8 Tributo, lowering the inertia of the car which promises better handling. In the live online launch event, Ferrari’s Chief Technical Officer Michael Hugo Leiters even said the new GTB provides a “fun to drive, go-kart feeling”.
That’s especially impressive considering that it weighs approximately 140 kg more than the F8, thanks to its electric components and battery pack (though the V6 engine is 30 kg lighter than the V8). To keep the weight as low as possible, the battery pack at a capacity of only 7.45 kWh is minute by today’s PHEV standards, and only provides a 25 km range on pure electricity.
Sound’s good, doesn’t it? But performance is not what keeps these cars on bedroom walls. For a sports car to be good, it must first look good – and boy oh boy is this a stunner.
Compared to most modern Ferraris that seem to carry an “in your face” design language, the 296 GTB is relatively pared down, with sleek and measured curves, not unlike the new Roma (which I think is beautiful, and there’s nothing you can do to change my mind).
But don’t mistake the purity of its design for simplicity, because in addition to its elegant looks, the curves also function as aerodynamic devices to either channel air into the cooling vents, or generate downforce.
Even without any aero appendages aside from the deployable rear wing (like the SF90 Stradale), the new 296 GTB makes upwards of 360 kg of downforce at 250 km/h. The see-through flat engine cover and vertical rear screens between the flying buttresses are just icing on the cake.
The clean and matured styling effort also continue onto the interior, where you’ll find exclusive Italian leather trim on the dashboard and seats, alongside the wraparound digital instrument cluster, steering wheel, and gear selector panel borrowed from the SF90 Stradale.
Customers who want a racier-looking car can opt for the Assetto Fiorano package, which in addition to the subtly more aggressive exterior design and unique livery, also slashes the car’s weight by more than 12 kg thanks to the use of carbon fibre components, and comes with a sportier-tuned suspension.
The new Ferrari 296 GTB is priced from EUR269,000 (~RM1.3 million) with the Italian tax and duties included; the Assetto Fiorano package raises the price up to EUR302,000 (~RM1.5 million). Deliveries will start at left-hand drive European countries first in Q1 2022, with other nations to follow shortly.