I bet you and I look alike. If a friend – I agree very well – comes to test you with a plug-in hybrid with a 2.9-liter V6 biturbo heat engine, you tell yourself, like me, that Audi has electrified its awesome RS5. This already promises a great workout. But when this belated Santa-like friend tells you that this “small” V6 alone develops 663 hp, you quickly realize that the author of this feat – a record 221 hp/litre – belongs to another dimension entirely. And your assistant will turn into a guardian angel, explaining that this “plug-in” with a 167 horsepower electric motor has a total of 830 horsepower..
There he gives you the key surrounded by a Prancing Horse. End of the puzzle, I’m driving the new Ferrari 296 GTB. It’s an event in itself, because it’s not often that a new berlinetta is released, but it takes on another symbolism when it comes to the first V6-powered Ferrari in history.. The 1960s had Dinos, but Enzo Ferrari chose not to attach his precious “house” horse to them for fear of tarnishing the image of 12-cylinder sports cars. Fault, because this new 296, which didn’t retire the F8 Tributo, gives great honor to its pedigree.
Less dexterous touch
In an interior that mimics the new SF90 Stradale, you first have to get used to the ergonomics, which, as always, revolves almost exclusively around the steering wheel. The centralization of these commands, which is usual at Ferrari but not very intuitive, becomes even more confusing as touch is invited on board.. And while visually the whole looks almost clear, it’s different in use, not always clear responses from the keys, especially the small pad that controls the large digital dashboard. Besides, it takes even longer to get your place in this Italian, on I’m particularly sorry that the advent of black and flat delicate surfaces has eliminated noble materials and evocative colours.. So F8’s big red “Start” button here leads to a hidden “Engine Start” surface in the middle of the steering wheel.
But after all, this 296 isn’t just there to teach ergonomics. One blow on the right paddle to activate the 1st of the double clutch box and the berlinetta moves without the slightest sound. Because with its 7.45 kWh battery (6 of which are useful) and its powerful electric motor, the Italian can travel twenty kilometers without swallowing even the slightest drop of lead. Confusing on a Ferrari, especially since the maximum speed allowed by the electric block still reaches 135 km/h in the right mode (eDrive in e-Manettino). Enough to begin our little journey around Seville in complete silence and utmost comfort, this 296 is surprisingly flexible in its “Sports” mode.
Invitation to take off
The first cyclists entered the interior of the Bay of Cadiz, quickly making their musical aspirations known. So I switch the e-Manettino to Performance so the V6 wakes up and the traction chain always conserves energy in the battery to always have maximum power. In the Manettino Race, the 296 reveals the other side of his face later, a Mirage 2000 that will be released on the way. With successful sound, but not equal to the mastery of a Superfast’s atmospheric V12, the 120° V6 from Maranello shows the full extent of its power. From 1,500rpm – where the turbos and electric motor have already wiped out any response time – at 8,500rpm, the GTB keeps you in orbit permanently. More than raw accelerations (0 to 100 km/h in 2.9 s), times are Moon. Suffice it to say that the speeds achieved on the road are just as high without the drivers or passengers jolting. As always at Ferrari, each gear ratio benefits from its own torque curve. to give the impression of a power rising above the rev counter. An advance that is often lacking in supercharged engines.
The “8” transmission, which is managed close to perfection regardless of the driving type, responds to the nearest millimeter on the right foot and allows you to do without paddles completely to take advantage of the precision of the 296. very slight lack of steering consistency after initial steering angles, however, the front axle has high grip so you still have to be a bit of a no-brainer or lose everything in the casino to reach the limits of grip on the open road.. Slightly heavier than an F8, the 296 (1,470kg dry as announced by Ferrari) is still balanced and therefore reassuring to its driver. Whoever uses this mechanical wrath so easily should certainly not forget that it is because the electronics are spying on the grain. Precisely calibrated, anti-skid and ABS allow “everyone” to brake too late and accelerate hard without losing control of the 830 hp. This is even more true on the track where the Italian can wear the Assetto Fiorano package (special shock absorbers and the weight of the car have been reduced by 15kg) and the Michelin Pilot Cup 2 Rs specially designed for him to push the limits even further. .
That said, the insane capacities of this new 296 GTB shouldn’t stop you from being cool. At worst, another guard watches the grain: price. Excluding options, it is €271.114, while “treats” are usually four digits.. At least the penalty does not exceed €900 (149 g/km CO2), which is significantly less than €40,000 for an F8…