Cars

With deep roots in a winning past, the marque’s first 6-cylinder road car boasts record power and cutting edge-hybrid tech. Welcome under the lid of the Ferrari 296 GTB - the shape of things to come
Words – Chris Rees

The Ferrari 296 GTBs 2992cc V6 twin-turbo engine has raised eyebrows throughout the industry, thanks to its frankly astonishing specifications.

Its power output of 663cv equates to no less than 221cv per litre – an outright world record for a production road car.

Factor in that it is coupled with an MGU-K (Motor Generator Unit, Kinetic) electric motor capable of delivering a further 122 kW (167cv), and the total combined output of 830cv is truly astounding.


We asked Vittorio Dini, Head of Powertrain Design and Development, why Ferrari has chosen to pursue this V6 hybrid architecture. “Compared to the V8, the V6 of course brings efficiency benefits, but it has many other advantages, too, the main one being its compactness. It has freed up room for the electric motor and hybrid system without compromising the car’s dynamics in any way.” 

Watch the history of Ferrari's famous V6 engine 

How has Ferrari achieved such incredible figures for this new powerplant? The explanation begins with the wide 120-degree angle of the ‘V’ shape of the cylinder layout, in contrast to the more conventional, narrower angles of 60 or 90 degrees. Dini explains: “The 120- degree concept has big advantages. Not only does it keep the engine compact, but it also allows us to install the turbochargers in the middle of the ‘V’, with further power-development potential.

 

“We had to overcome the challenges of the increased forces inherent in the 120-degree layout, by engineering-in enormous strength,” he admits. “Although the proven, advanced combustion-chamber technology has been taken directly from the SF90 Stradale V8, the V6 has a much higher specific power output, with correspondingly higher internal pressures. “A completely new engine block and cylinder heads have been created in aluminium, drawing on huge Ferrari expertise in metal alloys.”

The roots of the 296 GTB's engine lie in pure racing. The 1982 126 C2 had a turbocharged V6 that helped win the Constructors' title for Ferrari that year 

Compactness and weight reduction are also key elements in the success of the V6, explains Dini: “The engine is 50 millimetres shorter and 20 kilos lighter than the V8. Another advantage is that the engine’s weight s very low down, helping to keep the car’s centre of gravity very low.”

 

Slightly bigger turbochargers are used in this engine than in the V8, and the 120-degree layout provides all the space needed to site them in the middle of the ‘V’ – the first time a Ferrari road car has ever featured turbos that are located here. The new turbos, developed in conjunction with IHI, have smaller-diameter compressor wheels and turbo rotors, plus high-performance alloys. This all helps increase their peak revs to 180,000rpm, benefitting both performance and efficiency. Yet another positive is that the exhaust can run in a direct line back from the turbochargers – meaning much lower back- pressure and, in turn, better performance. There are also positives for the car’s soundtrack, too.

Pure V6 heritage: The Dino 156 F2 (1957), the 126 CK (1981), the 246 P (1960) and the 156 F1 (1961). 

Indeed, some sense of how the V6 engine sounds and performs can be gleaned from the fact that, during its development the engine earned itself the nickname ‘piccolo V12’ – little V12. How would Dini himself describe its sound? “It’s very involving,” he says. “You can feel the performance from the sound, right in your stomach. The air being sucked in, the injectors, the combustion, the exhaust – it’s like an orchestra.”

 

Asked which aspect of this new powertrain he is most proud of, Dini replies: “The fact that it is so compact, so light and has such a low centre of gravity – it contributes so much to the car’s performance.

 

“I’m proud of the whole team, which has put into practice every lesson we’ve learnt from previous turbocharged engines. The V6 hybrid represents a new pinnacle in terms of performance, power, and sound.”

03 novembre, 2021