Ferrari 296 GTB: Electrifying performance

Ferrari 296 GTB

A NEW Ferrari always makes anyone with petrol in their veins take note, but this time there’s also something for the electrified eco-car fan to get excited about, writes William Scholes.

Well, sort of. This new Ferrari model, dubbed the 296 GTB, is a plug-in hybrid. The specification sheet says it can travel as many as 15 miles using the charge from its batteries, so it’s practically a Prius.

Except the electric motor isn’t really about being environmentally friendly. Sure, even manufacturers of exotica have to lower their CO2 emissions and are moving, like everyone else, towards fully-electric cars.

But if an electric motor is set up in a particular way in a sports car hybrid powertrain, it effectively acts as a massive turbocharger, adding bonkers levels of power, torque and response to a vehicle that would be unhinged even if it were relying on only its petrol engine.

Ferrari 296 GTB

And so it is with the mid-engined 296 GTB, which is essentially a Top Trumps card on wheels.

It gets an all-new 3.0-litre V6 engine, turbocharged and built with obsessive attention to detail, and yields 654bhp. An electric motor is integrated with the engine to give the two-seater coupe a total output of 818bhp.

The 0-62mph sprint is done and dusted in 2.9 seconds; 0-124mph is over in 7.3 seconds; meanwhile it can brake to a standstill from 124mph in just 107 metres. Top speed is in excess of 205mph.

Those figures are bananas – and then you have to remind yourself that this isn’t even the most powerfurl Ferrari, or the fastest. The 296 GTB slots into the company’s range below the hybrid SF90 Stradale – its superiority in part down to its twin electric motor set-up – and alongside the defiantly petrol-only F8 Tributo.

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Ferrari 296 GTB

The 296 GTB is the first V6 Ferrari road car – the 1960s’ Dino model did have a V6 but was not badged as a Ferrari, trivia fans – and its engine was nicknamed the ‘piccolo V12’, or ‘little V12’, because of the sound it makes.

Ferrari has thrown the full weight of its aerodynamic know-how at the car, as well as its bleeding-edge chassis tech.

The company says the car defines “fun to drive” – which is a bit of a stretch, even for Ferrari – but it will doubtless by a mesmerising device to operate.

And if the ‘basic’ 296 GTB isn’t quick enough for you, Ferrari offers a lightweight package called Assetto Fiorano, which includes changes such as motorsport-derived adjustable shock absorbers, even more carbon fibre and special liveries.

Ferrari 296 GTB

There is no doubt that on paper at least, the 296 GTB and its ilk are deeply impressive from an engineering point of view. The performance figures are outrageous.

But I come back to the ‘defining fun’ claim. Is a car like this – with performance beyond the limits of most drivers and roads – really as much fun to drive in the real world as, say, a Mazda MX-5? Possibly not – but it would be fun finding out…

Ferrari 296 GTB

Ferrari 296 GTB

Ferrari 296 GTB


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