Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven

Published:11 March 2022

Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

► New V6 hybrid Ferrari driven
► 819bhp, 205mph top speed
► 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds

Quite frankly, the noise of the Ferrari 296 GTB gives you the creeps. This engine, an all-new V6 that shares nothing but Maranello’s combustion know-how with any other Ferrari motor, sounds unlike anything else. Imagine, if you can, a jam session in which Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Plant and Adele lay vocals over brutal, skull-thumping techno – composed by Verdi. At idle it’s restless, impatient, eager. And promising.

Then, as you summon first gear via what is surely the longest shift paddle in Ferrari history, all those peripheral whizzings, rumblings and hissings coalesce into a solid, billowing and at times unnerving high note.

This is the sound of the new 296 GTB; a supercar that writes a new chapter in Ferrari lore with a screaming V6 boosted by hybrid power. Does it deliver? We’re driving it on the road and on track to find out – but the soundtrack is already promising. Read on for our full review.

So the Ferrari 296 GTB’s got a V6, you say?

The new engine is ‘only’ a 2992cc six. But this is 2022, and this is a Ferrari internal-combustion engine and in truth this V6 is more vocal, more potent and more extreme than most of the V8s and V12s that have come before. Opening up the bank angle from a generic 90° to 120° has created the space for a pair of fat IHI turbochargers between the two rows of three cylinders.

Sandwiched between this Rubik’s Cube of an engine and the eight-speed, twin-clutch gearbox is an electric motor/generator (MGU-K in F1/Ferrari speak), juiced by a 7.45kWh lithium-ion battery. 

And before you worry about its performance next to a V12 or V8, there are three numbers you should know: 205mph top speed, 2.9 seconds to 62mph – and 819bhp. With the e-motor dormant, the V6 alone delivers a barely less impressive 654bhp. As soon as you bring the 165bhp e-motor to bear, the car’s peak output soars to 819bhp and 546lb ft.

It looks great!

It does, but like most supercars it’s all focused on increasing downforce at speed. Up front, rectangular apertures next to the headlamp units gather air to cool the brakes. The lower half of the front bumper also snaffles cooling air, while the upper nose channels the flow over the roof and greenhouse, through a slim horizontal spoiler and onto the Kamm tail. The lower nasal intake feeds the under-body ground-effect aero. Stimulated by the aerodynamic teamwork between the sharp-edged rear spoiler and the multi-finned diffuser, the merging vortices creating a strong suction-cup effect.

What’s it like inside?

In essence, the cockpit design and the main controls are carried over from the SF90. There are two e-manettinos: a digital one to select the type and mix of propulsion; and its analogue counterpart for dynamic attitude. eDrive is for owners feeling the social-acceptance squeeze, or who like to depart early and arrive late without angering their neighbours. In Hybrid, the choice is yours. Flooring the accelerator summons all men on deck. But a part-throttle idles the combustion engine.

What’s the 296 GTB hybrid like to drive?

Time to hit the capacitive starter button, alert the driveline set-up with a quick swipe from Hybrid to Performance and lock the e-manettino in Race – after all, we’re on track first.  

Immediately, it’s in the faster, third-gear corners that the new Ferrari really shines. Its prime dynamic strength is its sublime handling balance, in unison with the incredibly subtle performance management and an almost stoic overall composure in the hands of a person looking for the drive – and the drift. It’s the routine ability to brake extraordinarily late and feed in torque early which puts this car on top of the handling Olympus.

First the engine: although the V6 will spin to a shrieking 8500rpm if need be, 6500rpm is all it takes to alert every smartphone in town. Ample torque abounds at almost any speed, so you have options. And while most PHEVs fail to discourage occasional in-fighting between the combustion engine and the zero-emissions e-module, the Ferrari ensures a responsive, seamless, and progressive interaction. In the 296 there are no regen modes to choose from, no boost button to succumb to, no on-the-fly charge option. Your e-manettino mode – and the car’s vast brain – govern all of the above.

It’s all controlled by a dual-clutcher calibrated for a manic and energetic shift action except in auto when you’ve one of the milder drive modes selected, when the drivetrain duly morphs into an eco-friendly tranquiliser. Might as well select eDrive instead and not pollute the planet for 15.5 miles at a maximum speed of 84mph.

However, praise must also be heaped on the by-wire braking system, so often an issue on hybrid performance cars, which blends electric and hydraulic deceleration in a stepless, composed and highly efficient manner. And on track ABS Evo, which enables late braking deep into a corner, way beyond the turn-in point, yet still with only traces of understeer.

What’s it like on the road?

On the road at last, we head north from Monteblanco via Valverde del Camino to Rosal de la Frontera.  The road surface is good, the topography presents a five-star blend of borderline and more laid-back moments and the range of driving opportunities varies from the heroic to the insane. That’s what a car like the 296 can do for you: build confidence, establish trust and create a deep sense of connection – not to mention a touch of invincibility. 

All the systems we felt on the track are stitched together as one in normal driving: the level of integration here is remarkable, and it’s this that means no other Ferrari, past or present, can match the 296 GTB for depth and clarity of motion. The SF90 is faster but the V6 beats it in agility and control. The F8 Tributo has a wonderful engine, but a couple more cylinders aren’t enough to challenge the 296’s e-power advantage. 

Despite this raw dynamic purity there’s a generous margin for driver error – and let’s be honest, driver error is always on the cards in a car that can do 125mph between villages.

Verdict

Oozing power, poise and panache from every pore, this Ferrari challenges and satisfies all six senses. The steep asking price, long waiting list and compromised daily-driver appeal will rule out the 296 GTB for most, but the elite minority should be forming a disorderly queue right now for the finest Ferrari sports car in years. Define finest? Accessible high performance, mind-blowing dynamics and style crammed with real substance. Truly the 296 GTB has it all.

More Ferrari reviews by CAR magazine

Specs

Price when new: £241,550
On sale in the UK: March 2022
Engine: 2992ccc 24v twin-turbo V6 (654bhp), 165bhp e-motor, PHEV, 7.45kWh battery
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 819bhp @ 8000rpm, 546lb ft @ 6250rpm, 2.9sec 0-62mph, 205mph+
Weight / material: 1470kg (dry)
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):

Photo Gallery

  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven
  • Ferrari 296 GTB review: 819bhp V6 hybrid driven

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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