After nearly 50 years, a 6-cylinder engine is back in a Ferrari, but it’s not just nostalgia
The V6 engine is back in a Maranello creation and that hasn’t happened in nearly half a century. But if you think it’s just a bit of nostalgia, you’re wrong. The new Ferrari 296 GTB is heavily projected towards a technological but emotional future, and those who have already labeled it the “little SF90” better think again.
In fact, the term “downsizing” will never be used in this test because there is really nothing downsizing, except perhaps the overall dimensions. The 296 GTB is a very compact and lightweight Ferrari, not to mention the fact that it is Maranello’s first rear-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid sports car and is capable of delivering a total of 830 horsepower.
Given the potential at stake, Ferrari took us to Andalusia, with its formidable roads and a circuit with a straight line to go above 280 km/h and thoroughly test the arrival of the most famous new machina in the world. Ready to start the engines?
Personally, the 296 GTB is surprising for its truly compact dimensions, but it also wins you over with the refinement of its lines that range from efficiency to dynamism, passing through important references to the past.
Indeed, it looks like the Ferrari Style Center has redefined the boundaries of the mid-engined berlinetta concept. The visor-shaped architecture of the cabin fits well into the polished and tapered front, where the teardrop-shaped headlights stand out, with the single-mouth grille in the center that makes room at the bottom for a hanging carbon fin, clearly derivative of formula 1
Still on the racing theme, but from another era, the reference to the fabulous 250 LM is clear when looking at the back of the 296 GTB. The truncated rear end, wide wheel arches and distinctive “B” pillar make this vision of the GTB unique, and the matter intensifies when the obviously LED taillights enter the picture.
In such a thoughtful context, the central exhaust adds a touch of trickery, with its placement leaving more room to the side for the cooling grilles and, just below, for the extractor. Finally, the wheel design is quite sculptural, but the mass is alleviated by the presence of the optional set of carbon fiber wheels that offer a weight reduction of 8 kg.
In addition to the touted ergonomics, the 296 GTB’s cabin uses the same interface as the SF90 Stradale, with the driver’s digital instrumentation almost entirely controlled by a touch button, while the passenger can vary the options in front of them via a screen that is clear and intuitive to use.
The interior design is minimalist but rich in quality finishes, with several references to the past, such as the striking reproduction of the chrome gearbox grille, now dedicated to the DCT gearbox configuration.
Does the ‘ultimate’, fast and usable Ferrari really exist now? Perhaps, but what’s impressive about the 296 GTB is how fast the driver can handle a rear-wheel-drive super sports car credited with – we repeat – an impressive 830bhp.
If, however, its technical specifications remain impressive even when you read them a second time, the ease with which you can go much further than “fast” is even more baffling. This is due to a mix of features that make handling fun: a low center of gravity, low weight (1,470 kg on the Assetto Fiorano, 59.5% on the rear axle), reduced overhangs and ergonomics that allow you to immediately establish a physical and durable with steering and pedals.
The engine’s progression on the track makes it unnecessary to want those extra two cylinders, with a sound that can’t quite mimic the single-throttle V6s of the past, but still satisfies with intensity and soul. There’s no uncertainty in delivery and the rev counter doesn’t come off for a moment, with the 8-speed DCT gearbox which, like the SF90, is perfectly matched to this plug-in hybrid powertrain.
And by the way, the MGU-K2 electric motor contributes 167 hp (or 122 kW, if you prefer) to the magical 830 hp mentioned above, powered by an 80 cell high voltage laser welded battery located at the base of the floor with capacity of 7.45 kWh.
On the way, the peak of 830 horsepower lasted our entire session, driven with the e-Manettino in Qualify and the classic Manettino in CT-OFF. If, instead of performance, the focus is on range, then it’s worth switching from Qualify to Performance, with battery life increasing, while the negative power difference, depending on driving conditions, will be a maximum of 40 hp at any less.
In any case, the braking system will always be above expectations and this is thanks to the debut of a new system, which intervenes from the Race map. Thanks to the EVO ABS, you will be able to apply the brakes precisely even when cornering, something that is very rare in a road car.
Once the track is abandoned in favor of the road, the 296 GTB’s great usability takes over, suggesting that even with the Hybrid map, this Berlinetta will excite you, and it does.
With a cautious pace, the electric range is always on the crest of the wave, prolonging the powertrain output and improving fuel consumption, not to mention the fact that driving through built-up areas in total silence in a Ferrari has proven to be so unusual. how gratifying.
While it’s been some time since we’ve heard of a V6, that doesn’t mean this powertrain hasn’t always been one of Ferrari’s “workhorses”.
Indeed, at Maranello, the V6 claimed the star role as early as 1957 in the Dino 156 F2, at that time in a 65° configuration. So, for the next few years, the V6 continued to be present in Ferrari almost everywhere, on the road with the Dino 246 GT, on the track with countless sportsmen and single-seaters and even in Rally, thanks to the Lancia Stratos, famous for using a Ferrari engine. .
And today, the tradition continues from 1973, when the V6 engine gave way to the 8-cylinder, and with the 296 GTB it does so by physically opening up to 120°, to be able to accommodate the two IHI turbos inside the V. Of the 830 hp that the GTB can boast, 663 hp comes from this efficient internal combustion engine which – on paper – is already another record, given its 221 hp/litre ratio. In short, a return to V6… into the record books!
The accessories list is always a fascinating attraction for any potential Ferrari customer, and the 296 GTB is no exception, with the car’s optional extras being touted through the specific plate visible when opening (the large) front trunk.
Options aside, Italian prices for the Ferrari 296 GTB start at €269,000, while if you want the Assetto Fiorano the bar is raised to €302,000. The difference is justified by specific, track-oriented equipment (-15kg on total weight), improved by half a second on Fiorano’s fast lap, again with reference to the standard 296 GTB.
The Assetto Fiorano package includes fixed-adjust Multimaticor dampers, titanium springs, high-load carbon fiber appendages on the front bumper that deliver up to 10 kg more downforce, and, among other optimizations, a special paint job inspired by the 250 Le. Mans is only available for this variant.
Ferrari 296 GTB