Ferrari shakes up supercar scene with new 296 GTB plug-in hybrid
Say hello to the 296 GTB – Ferrari's all-new mid-engined supercar that features a unique plug-in hybrid powertrain. Underneath its sleek Italian skin you will find a new-from-the-ground-up 2992cc twin-turbocharged 120-degree V6 engine that churns out a staggering 487kW at 8,000rpm. According to Ferrari this gives it the highest specific output of any production car engine ever built at 162,56kW/litre.
This enviable piece of multi-cylinder engineering is here bolstered by an electric motor that helps boost total output to 610kW and 740Nm. Delivered exclusively to the rear wheels via an F1-derived eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, Ferrari claims that the 296 GTB will scamper to 100km/h in just 2.9 seconds while 200km/h comes up in 7.9 seconds. Expect a maximum speed of more than 330km/h.
Yet for all its enviable pace and fury, the 296 GTB is also capable of totally silent operation. When put into EV mode the 7.45kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the cabin gives an all-electric range of up to 25km – ideal for the daily commute in urban environs.
Usually hybrid drivetrains impose something of a weight penalty, but here Ferrari has done well to achieve a claimed dry mass of 1,470kg – just 35kg more than the less complex F8.
This feat is partly thanks to a new compact all-aluminium chassis that is 46mm shorter than the one used in its V8-powered sibling. Meanwhile the wheelbase has been cut by 50mm. Crucially the new 296 GTB also sports a 10mm lower centre of gravity thanks to the positioning of that compact V6 engine. Compared to the bigger V8 it sits a full 50mm closer to the asphalt, which will obviously pay rich dividends when it comes to handling.
Speaking of which, the 296 GTB comes equipped with front and rear double wishbone suspension as well as Ferrari's famed magnetorheological dampers that adapt to surface changes. Helping to keep it glued to the bitumen is an active aero package that includes a special LaFerrari-inspired rear wing that produces up to 100kg of downforce at 250km/h.
Customers will also be able to fit the optional Assetto Fiorano package that further sharpens the car's dynamic abilities through the fitment of Multimatic dampers, lashings of carbon fibre on the front bumper, rear deck and interior plus a lightweight composite rear window. Extra sticky Michelin Cup 2R tyres are also included. Ticking this box sheds 15kg of weight. Also optional is a set of exquisite carbon fibre wheels (forged five-spoke alloy wheels are fitted as standard) that Ferrari claims saves an additional 8kg.
The Ferrari 296 GTB is expected to go on sale in Europe in 2022 with a projected price tag of about R4.5m. Whether any will come to SA is yet to be decided.