When Ferrari first announced it was making a hybrid over a decade ago, many people were skeptical. Purists believed that a Ferrari should only be powered by an engine, not assisted by anything else. However, when the Ferrari LaFerrari was launched in 2014, the critics quickly died down.
The LaFerrari was ruthlessly fast and stunningly beautiful. It instantly captured the hearts of all Ferrari fans despite being a mild hybrid. Now Ferrari is stepping up a notch. Instead of a mild hybrid that only charges when you brake, the firm has launched two plug-in hybrid models. The first Ferrari PHEV unveiled was the SF90 Stradale, a 986bhp LaFerrari-like hypercar.
The 296 GTB, which was presented in June 2021, is arguably more intriguing. The 296 is about half the price of the SF90. Therefore, while the SF90 is a collector’s item that will rarely be seen outside private garages, the 296 GTB is a “mainstream supercar” that aims to compete with the Lamborghini Huracán and McLaren 720.
- Plug-in hybrid powertrain
- Active rear wing
- Model: 296 GTB
- Engine/Motor: 2.9-litre/7.45 kWh V6 biturbo battery
- Powerful : 819 hp
- Couple : 546 lbs/ft
- Transmission: RWD
- Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch
- Relentless power
- Engaging driving experience
- Electric mode only
- Offers more power than any other supercar in its price bracket
- Doesn’t sound as good as a Ferrari V8 or V12
- The electric range is laughable
A milestone for Ferrari
When the 296 GTB made its debut last summer, Ferrari emphasized that it was the first “true six-cylinder Ferrari”. Previously, only 1960s and 1970s Dino models were fitted with a V6 engine, and they were never sold as genuine Ferraris – in fact, Dino was technically a sub-brand.
Plus, while the 296 isn’t Ferrari’s first hybrid (nor Ferrari’s first plug-in hybrid), it’s the brand’s first rear-drive hybrid. The 296’s RWD layout allows for more road thrills and better performance on the trail. Additionally, the 296’s turbochargers are between the cylinder banks to allow for better packaging and to lower its center of gravity. Again, this is a first for Ferrari.
The 296 GTB also debuts with many new technical features. For example, it has a six-axis sensor called 6w-CDS that measures the acceleration and rotational speeds of the X, Y, and Z planes. It uses this data to communicate with other systems like the Slide Slip Control and E-Diff to optimize cornering speed.
The best of both worlds
By combining a V6 engine with an electric motor, Ferrari has created an incredibly powerful vehicle. Individually, the 296’s engine produces 654 hp and its engine 165 hp. Collectively, that’s 819bhp, making the 296 the most powerful 2-door supercar in its price range (at least until the updated Tesla Roadster arrives).
The 7.45 kWh battery of the 296 GTB allows up to 24 km of all-electric driving according to Ferrari. However, in reality, you’ll be lucky to get more than 10 miles of electric range according to WLTP tests. Still, that means the 296 can dodge congestion charges in many European cities and traverse certain areas at times of day that combustion-only vehicles cannot.
In e-mode, the 296 has a top speed of 84 mph. It’s not meant to be fast, as alluded to above, electric mode is best used for getting around town and running errands. However, when you fire up the engine, the 296 GTB turns into a monster. Ferrari claims 0-60mph takes 2.9 seconds, while top speed is 205mph. What is most impressive is how relentless the 296 is beyond 60 mph. 60-120 mph takes just 3.8 seconds, a remarkable figure.
A driver-focused cabin
The 296 GTB is above all a driver’s affair. Unlike the Ferrari Roma, it is not a grand tourer but rather a full-fledged supercar. Therefore, creature comforts are minimal. You get the basics like air conditioning and a navigation/radio system, but that’s about it. Considering the 296 is trailing a 7.45 kWh battery and a load of performance tech, it already weighs a hefty (for a supercar) 3,572 pounds.
That said, the 296’s cabin is high quality throughout. All information is in front of the driver on the instrument cluster, there is no central display. There is, however, a slender passenger display that shows the current speed and has some limited options. Five different types of bucket seats are available, all upholstered in luxury Italian leather.
It won’t be cheap
Unsurprisingly, the 296 GTB is incredibly expensive. Prices start at $322,986 – but getting your hands on one from Ferrari might take some time (expect a 2-year wait time). That said, the 296 GTB and Mercedes-AMG GT 63 SE Performance are the only non-EVs currently on sale that offer more than 800 hp for less than $500,000. The 296 GTB also outperforms the V8 F8 Tributo on the track (it’s a second faster around Fiorano) and the drag strip (the 296 clocks a quarter mile in 10.4 seconds, the F8 takes 10.5 seconds). So overall, this price seems somewhat justified, especially considering the pioneering performance technology of the 296 GTB. For those looking for a roofless experience, a GTS variant of the 296 will hit the market in a few months.
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