Cars

Sixty years after Ferrari revealed its first sports car with a powerplant behind the driver, Maranello has revealed the latest development of the Prancing Horse’s mid-rear-engined two-seater berlinetta: the Ferrari 296 GTB
Words – Ben Pulman

The Ferrari 296 GTB redefines the whole concept of fun behind the wheel.

The driving experience guarantees pure emotions not just when pushing the car to its limits, but also in day-to-day driving situations.
A truly revolutionary vehicle for Ferrari, it introduces a new type of engine: a 663cv 120° V6 coupled with an electric motor. The combined output of the hybrid architecture is a massive 830cv, and it thus delivers incredible performance, together with an exhilarating and unique soundtrack.

Importantly, the car’s name – which combines its total displacement (2,992cc) and number of cylinders with the GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) acronym, in finest Ferrari tradition – was chosen to underscore this new engine’s epoch-changing importance to Maranello.

Along with the overall total power output, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) system cuts throttle pedal response times to zero, and delivers a 25km range in all-electric eDrive mode, guaranteeing the 296 GTB is an incredibly usable car in all driving situations.

The 250 LM from 1963, in particular, provided the designers with inspiration through elements such as the sinuous, sculpted look of the body, the design of the B-pillar, the unusual composition of the wings into which the air intakes are set, and the delicately proportioned Kamm tail

The new V6 is a clean-sheet design from Ferrari’s engineers and is the first Prancing Horse to feature the turbos installed inside the engine’s ‘vee’. Overall engine mass, and the centre of gravity, are both lower, while the new Ferrari V6 sets a new specific power output record for a production car with 221cv per litre.

The transition between electric and hybrid modes is fundamental to the sports car characteristics of the 296 GTB, and this is why a power management selector (eManettino) has been adopted alongside the traditional Manettino. The eManettino has four positions: eDrive, Hybrid, Performance, and Qualify.

Sound-wise, the 296 GTB rewrites the rules by harmoniously combining two characteristics that are normally diametrically opposed: the force of the turbos and the harmony of the high-frequency notes of a naturally-aspirated V12. Even at low revs, inside the cabin, the soundtrack features the pure V12 orders of harmonics which then, at higher revs, guarantee that typical high-frequency treble. These are further helped by a limiter that hits an impressive 8500rpm.

Meticulous attention was paid to reducing weight to ensure the car’s balance and delicacy of handling. The result is a dry weight of just 1470kg, which is class-leading in regards to the overall weight-to-power ratio: 1.77kg/cv

No less revolutionary are the aerodynamics of the 296 GTB, as for the first time, an active device is being used not to manage drag but to generate extra downforce. The LaFerrari-inspired active spoiler integrated into the rear bumper means that in the high-downforce configuration there is an additional 100kg in downforce over the rear axle,. This enhances vehicle control in performance driving situations and minimises stopping distances under braking.

This impressive performance was achieved by seamlessly optimising the car’s volumes, and its exceptional modernity references 1960s Ferraris, which made simplicity and functionality their signatures. The result is a car with an extremely clean, elegant design in which all the performance-oriented elements meld effortlessly with the styling, underscoring the inextricable marriage of technology and aesthetics that is the signature of all Ferraris.

The main instrument cluster is set into a deep cleft carved out of the dashboard trim, itself characterised by a deliberately clean, taut surface. The passenger side is very minimalistic with the standard passenger-side display, allowing them to live the driving experience very much as a participant, almost a co-driver

Within the interior of the 296 GTB, the cockpit was developed around the new concept of an entirely digital interface which Ferrari first debuted on the SF90 Stradale. Yet in contrast to the SF90, where the designers wanted to highlight the presence of the advanced technology, the philosophy for the 296 GTB was to clothe that technology in a sophisticated way.

The result is a pure, minimalistic connotation, with the instruments black until the Start Button is pressed, whereupon all of the components spring to life and the 296 GTB reveals its technological glory in the form of an exceptionally modern, ergonomic and completely digital interface. A further example of Ferrari’s philosophy of maximum formal purity is the HUD (Head Up Display) which is integrated into the leather trim.
The 296 GTB’s dynamic development focused around boosting the car’s pure performance, as well as improving the usability afforded by the hybrid layout. New components were developed specifically, including the 6-way Chassis Dynamic Sensor (6w-CDS) – a world first for the automotive sector.

From a chassis perspective, the wheelbase is 50mm shorter than previous Ferrari mid-rear-engined berlinettas to the benefit of the car’s dynamic agility. Other solutions that enhance the car’s handling and performance include the brake-by-wire system, the ‘Aero’ brake callipers from the SF90, electric power steering, the rear active aero device and SCM-Frs magnetorheological dampers.

A special livery inspired by the 250 Le Mans can be ordered exclusively by owners that opt for the Assetto Fiorano package. Its design runs from the front wings and hugs the central grille and delineates its edges. This styling element continues along the bonnet, creating a hammer motif before running lengthways up to the roof and then down onto the rear spoiler

As was the case with the SF90 Stradale, for clients who want to exploit the car’s extreme power and performance, particularly on the track, the 296 GTB is also available with the Assetto Fiorano package. This includes racing-derived adjustable Multimatic shock absorbers, carbon-fibre elements on the front bumper that can deliver an additional 10kg of downforce, a Lexan® rear screen, and a more extensive use of lightweight materials. There are also Michelin Sport Cup2R high-performance tyres, while a special livery inspired by the 250 Le Mans can also be ordered exclusively by owners that opt for the Assetto Fiorano package.