I bet you and I are alike. If a friend – very nice, I agree – invites you to test a plug-in hybrid powered by a 2.9-litre V6 biturbo engine, you’ll tell yourself, as I did, that Audi has just electrified its formidable RS5. Which already promises a great workout. But when this belated Santa Claus friend tells you that this “small” V6 alone makes 663 hp, you immediately realize that the author of this feat – a record of 221 hp / liter – belongs to to another dimension. And your partner will turn into a guardian angel, announcing that with his 167-horsepower electric motor, this “plug-in” has a total of 830 hp..
There he hands you the key, accompanied by a prancing horse. End of the puzzle, I’m driving the new Ferrari 296 GTB. An event in itself, because the launch of a new berlinetta is not frequent, but which takes on a different symbolism when it comes to the first ever Ferrari with a V6 engine.. There were Dinos of the 1960s, but Enzo Ferrari himself preferred not to attach a precious “home” horse to them, for fear of damaging the image of 12-cylinder sports cars. A mistake, because this new 296 that doesn’t take away the F8 Tributo does a lot of honor to its pedigree.
Less skillful touch
In an interior that mimics that of the recent SF90 Stradale, you first have to get used to the ergonomics, which, as always, revolve almost exclusively around the steering wheel. This centralization of commands, common to Ferrari but not very intuitive, turns out to be even more confusing as touch is welcomed on board.. And if visually everything seems almost crisp, in use it differs, with not always clear key responses, especially the small pad that controls the large digital instrument panel. In addition, it takes even more time to get your bearings in this Italian, ohIt is especially unfortunate that the appearance of black and flat sensitive surfaces is crowding out noble materials and evocative colors.. So the big red F8 “Start” button here gives way to an inconspicuous “Engine Start” surface in the center of the steering wheel.
But after all, this 296th is needed not only to give lessons in ergonomics. Hitting the right paddle engages the 1st dual clutch and the berlinetta moves… without the slightest noise. Because with its 7.45 kWh battery (including 6 useful ones) and a powerful electric motor, the Italian can really drive a good twenty kilometers without swallowing a single drop of unleaded gasoline. Confusing in a Ferrari, especially since the maximum speed allowed by the electric unit still reaches 135 km / h in the correct mode. (eDrive on e-Manettino). Enough to start our little tour of Seville in complete silence and maximum comfort, as this 296 is surprisingly agile in Sport mode.
Immersed in the hinterland of the Gulf of Cadiz, the first cyclists quickly made clear their desire for music. So I switch the e-Manettino to Performance so that the V6 wakes up and the traction chain always maintains energy in the battery to always have maximum power. Manettino on the Race, then the 296 reveals another facet, the face of the Mirage 2000 that would have been put on the road. Sounding good, but not matched by the prowess of the naturally aspirated V12 Superfast, the 120-degree V6 from Maranello shows all its power. Starting at 1500rpm – when the turbos and electric motor are already canceling out response times – at 8500rpm the GTB is constantly spinning around you.. More than raw accelerations (from 0 to 100 km / h in 2.9 s), the times are lunar. Suffice it to say that the same high speeds are achieved on the road, while neither drivers nor passengers shake. As always at Ferrari, each gear ratio has its own torque curve. in order to give the impression of power that builds up on the tachometer. Progressiveness, which is usually lacking in supercharged engines.
The “8” gearbox, controlled almost perfectly regardless of the type of driving, responds with millimeter precision to the right foot and allows the paddle shifters to be completely dispensed with to take advantage of the 296’s precision. Very little lack of steering coherence. after the first turns of the steering wheel, but in any case, you have to be a little brainless – or lose everything in the casino – to reach the limits of grip on the open road, since the grip of the front axle is high. Slightly heavier than the F8, the 296 (1470kg dry, claimed by Ferrari) is nevertheless balanced and therefore instills confidence in the driver. Who should definitely remember that if he uses this mechanical fury so easily, it is because the electronics are following the grain. Precisely calibrated anti-skid and ABS allow the layman to brake very late and accelerate sharply without losing control of the 830-horsepower engine.. This is even more true on the track, where the Italian can put on her Assetto Fiorano package (custom dampers and a 15kg reduction in car weight) and her custom-designed Michelin Pilot Cup 2 Rs to push the boundaries even further. .
The crazy capabilities of this new 296 GTB, however, shouldn’t stop you from keeping your cool. In the worst case scenario, there is another guarantee behind the grain: the price. Without options, it is 271,114 euros, and “treats” are often calculated in four figures.. At least the fine does not exceed 900 euros (149 g/km CO2), which is significantly less than the 40,000 euros for the F8…