Cars

A short trip to Sardinia was that all it took to understand how the 296 GTB V6 hybrid completely redefines driving enjoyment, from the racetrack to every day driving out on the open road
Words – Ross Brown
Video – Maurizio Abis
Editor - Oliver McIntyre

The expensive little drone hums patiently above us as the team set up the Arri Alexa mini camera and its glinting Zeiss Prime lens.

Just behind us the chase car, a big Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio SUV with a Russian camera arm attached to the roof, sits and growls in anticipation. When it comes to expensive kit, we have brought it all.
And yet amongst this arsenal of cameras, drones and extra vehicles, there’s one piece of crucial equipment that is nothing more than stretched canvas over metal. It’s the tent. And in that tent, hidden away from prying eyes, is the star of the show: Ferrari’s truly revolutionary 120° V6 plug-in hybrid 296 GTB.

So new it’s still working under the codename 171, the 296 GTB has been brought here to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia under a blanket of complete secrecy. Indeed, Sardinia has been chosen as the location for the shoot purely because of its famed remoteness. Despite its proximity to the second biggest town of Sassari, the Mores Race Circuit feels as if it is in the middle of nowhere, while the coast road south of Alghero, our second shooting location and where we are today, is incredibly quiet, although this has admittedly been exacerbated by the pandemic.

No room for the crew: The tent was reserved for the pre-production 296

There’s still some traffic though, curious faces pressed against windows, wondering why so many people are standing around a tent. The weather is against us, first light rain, then sun, then thunderstorms…finally the clouds break, the police block the long winding road at both ends and the Ferrari factory test driver climbs into the car and presses the start button. As we are about to discover, there’s not a tent in the world that can hide the wonderful sound of a 296 GTB.

The V6 sets a new power output for a production car with 221cv per litre and sounds, incredibly, like a naturally aspirated V12. And then, just like that, it’s away, the V6 and electric motor combination delivering 830cv instantaneously (the throttle peddle response time is zero), leaving drone, chase car and everyone at a slightly stunned standstill. It’s beautiful, it’s loud, it’s fast and it’s gone.

Watch the behind the scenes footage of the Ferrari 296 GTB in action

There’s some both exhilarating and terrifying about following the only pre-production 296 GTB in the world along a winding road on a medium-sized Mediterranean island, miles from anywhere. For our shooting requirements the car needs to bark and although we aren’t going anywhere near the 8500rpm rev limit, the driver still has to push. One mistake and it’s all for nothing. It’s not a job for the faint hearted but Ferrari have sent their best and his face is pure business as he howls past our cameras and away down the coast, the sleek red Berlinetta magnified against the incredible backdrop of the bright blue Mediterranean ocean.

An arsenal of cameras, drones and extra vehicles on hand to catch the magical 296 GTB in motion 

The radios crackle. The Police need to open the road again. The camera car comes to a stop, the drone lands and there’s a genuine sense of sadness amongst the team as the addictively high soundtrack drops a few octaves as the car turns and heads back to the safety of the tent. After all, it’s not every day you film a revolution on the coastal roads of Sardinia.