► Ferrari 296 GTS unveiled in full
► First V6 spider revives GTS badge
► 2.9-litre turbo hybrid, 819bhp, 205mph+
The new open-top Ferrari 296 GTS is here and Maranello’s latest open-top sports car revives the historic GTS acronym long associated with the prancing horse’s Gran Turismo Spider hair-raisers.
It’s the convertible sister to the 296 GTB coupe, the retractable hard top transforming from tin-top to wind-in-the-hair cabriolet at the touch of a button in just 14 seconds. Drivers can choose to raise or lower the roof on the move at speeds up to 28mph.
Rivals? Ferrari is stealing a march on competition, as there is no open-air McLaren Artura available yet, the multi-bodystyle Porsche 911 remains resolutely petrol-powered (for now) and Lamborghini has yet to plug in. The 296 GTS is expected to arrive in UK showrooms towards the end of this year or, more likely, early in 2023.
Hybrid engineering brings V6 punch and hybrid glide
The engineering blueprint of the 296 mimics that of its GTB hard-top sibling. There’s a wide-angle 120-degree V6 turbo nestling amidships and it’s the smallest-capacity Ferrari motor for years, displacing just 2992cc (all the better for tax purposes in some territories).
This dry-sump V6 is breathed on by a pair of IHI turbochargers nestling deep in the vee; there’s enough boost to develop a sturdy 654bhp from petrol alone and it’s redlined at a sonically-rewarding 8500rpm. Yes, that’s a head-spinning 218bhp per litre specific output – a new production car record, says Ferrari. No wonder our Ferrari 296 GTB review notes ‘it sounds unlike anything else… a jam session in which Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Plant and Adele lay vocals over brutal, skull-thumping techno.’ This unique soundtrack will be all the more audible in the spider.
But the 296’s real import is how it combines hybrid power with combustion fireworks.
How the Ferrari 296 GTS hybrid system works
If you needed persuading that hybrid power can be fun, the 296 is a good case study: a punchy 122kW electric motor provides an additional 165bhp at the rear wheels, taking total system output to a heady 819bhp.
This is a plug-in hybrid powertrain, so you can top up the modest 7.5kWh battery snuggled behind the front seats and try to match Ferrari’s claimed 16-mile electric range, creeping around town silently in all-electric eDrive mode. That’s an extraordinary range for such a small battery pack.
The best hybrid cars: our guide
Make no mistake, the Ferrari 296 GTS will be a searingly fast car. The official performance claims are thus:
- 0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
- 0-124mph: 7.6 seconds
- Top speed: ‘More than 205mph’
- Braking 124-0mph: 107 metres
- Fiorano laptime: 1min 21.8sec
No fuel consumption or CO2 figures are available yet, as the final production car is undergoing homologation tests.
Drive is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission as standard, with Ferrari’s E-Diff to apportion torque to either back wheel. Twenty-inch wheels are standard at both axles, measuring 245/35 ZR20 up front and a broader 305/35 ZR20 at the business end out back, where the – Maranello acronym moniker alert – Transition Manager Actuator (TMA) parcels out drive from the MGU-K electric motor, the V6 or some combination of both.
Roof theatrics: how the folding hard top works
The Ferrari 296 GTS was developed under the project codename 171 RHT, those three letters standing for retractable hard top. The roof is a continuation of the split hard top from the 458 and 488 V8s, where the panel splits one-third, two-thirds and rotates behind the driver’s head to store flat over the front of the engine bay without covering it totally to help with thermal dissipation… that V6 screamer gets hot!
This car is a strict two-seater, with only a modest luggage capacity. Maranello quotes 49 litres of storage space on the rear bench. When the roof is stowed, a height-adjustable glass screen separates the passenger compartment from the engine bay, minimising buffeting at speed.
No word yet on pricing or timing of first UK deliveries; it is likely that Brits will wait until early 2023 for the first right-hand drive 296 GTS customer cars, although that could nudge forwards a little as this is not a brand new model, merely a derivative of an existing vehicle.
Ferrari 296 GTS Assetto Fiorano
You might think that the spider bodystyle comes with boulevardier intentions, but nobody told Maranello: you can spec your 296 with the Assetto Fiorano pack, which brings lighter weight, adjustable Multimatic dampers, carbonfibre bumper fins to deliver an additional 10kg of downforce on the nose, a lighter rear screen and lightweight doors.
The track pack is shown on the red car pictured, which has the optional livery stretching from the front wings to the rear spoiler, as well as the optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2R track tyres.
One final detail to note: Ferrari engineers nicknamed the V6 the piccolo V12 in its development phase, so charismatic was the smaller six-pot. We reckon the open-air GTS will open up a whole new sonic spectrum in which to enjoy the acoustics of Maranello’s latest supercar, wind-in-the-hair and hybrid histrionics ringing in your ears.
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