Shivaum Punjabi attends the unveiling of the new Ferrari 296 GTB and explores its details.
A launch of any new Ferrari is a big deal. It is also exciting. When one of the world’s most famous car manufacturers announces something, everyone sits up and takes notice. Prepare to welcome the new Ferrari 296 GTB. While watching the presentation at the live event in Dubai, I could not help but go back in time and think about the car that made this car possible today. So let us take a peek back in time and see the history of the Ferrari Dino.
Back in the 60s, Ferraris were front-engined. It is well documented that Enzo Ferrari sold road cars to make sure he could sustain racing in F1. By that time, F1 cars had moved onto the mid-engined format. However, customer cars were still following the front-engined design language.
Competition from down the road had already started to move towards the mid-engined sports cars. Now a mid-engined car has better dynamics. Why because firstly balance of the car is evenly distributed. Plus, the engine can be mounted lower, reducing the centre of gravity. Piping required for the exhaust is reduced, leading to weight saving, which equals better performance, agility, and dynamics.
Here is where the name Dino was created. Enzo Ferrari’s son Alfredo (whose nickname was Dino) made a V6 engine that was fitted into a car designed by Pininfarina. And the rest they say is history.
The Dino has become one of the most sought after Ferrari’s to date. It was a swoopy, curvy looking coke bottle styled pretty little thing. It is a car that turns heads even to this date.
What’s the old car got to do with the new car?
Excellent question, and the answer is straightforward. The 296 GTB is the modern-day successor to the Ferrari Dino. The Dino was a V6, and the 296 GTB is also a V6 but with an electric twist. Yes, you read that correctly.
The 296 GTB is Ferrari’s first-ever PHEV (plug-in hybrid vehicle). Taking inspiration from the SF90, its big brother who has a V8 hybrid engine. Ferrari does not use hybrid power for better fuel efficiency or range. It uses hybrid power to better the performance of the car. And it has just done that with this car.
The 296 GTB is a mid-engined rear-wheel drive monster. The transmission on the car is the brilliant 8-speed dual-clutch transmission which is an excellent gearbox super snappy and responsive. The engine is a twin-turbo V6 producing 654 HP. The electric motor produces an additional 164HP making the total output a mind-numbing 818HP.
The top speed of the 296 is 330kmph. 0-100 is a quick 2.9 seconds, and the two hundred mark is achieved in a mere 7.3 seconds.
So how has Ferrari achieved that?
Well, the powertrain. But it is the how that is the exciting part. The V6 turbocharged engine has a vee angle of 120° between the cylinder banks letting the engineers install the turbos inside the vee. This helps save space in the engine bay and reduces the centre of gravity.
The name also explains the engine. 2 and 9 stands for the engine’s displacement, which is 2992cc and the 6 stands for the number of cylinders. Thus making it record-breaking power output for a road-going car at 218bhp per litre.
The powertrain assembly comprises a V6 turbo ICE, with the 8-speed DCT and E-Diff, and the electric motor located between the engine and the gearbox. A clutch is set between the ICE and the electric motor.
As per Ferrari, the electric motor on the 296 GTB is derived from the motor-generator kinetic unit (MGU-K) from their F1 cars. The 296 GTB can travel 25kms on electric mode alone and achieve speeds up to 135 kmph.
However, for Ferrari, this is about performance rather than boosting range. The motor gets its power from a 7.45-kWh battery pack.
The steering comes with an eManettino setting with four drive modes.
– eDrive (electric power only)
– Hybrid (this is the default mode)
– Performance (for spirited driving and getting more performance from the setup)
– Qualify (max performance for when you want all the 818 horses to work)
Since it is a Ferrari, we have to talk about engine sound. As per Ferrari, the harmonics of the turbo V6 mimic those of its larger V12 brothers. This V6 earned itself the nickname “piccolo V12” (little V12). I will definitely need to compare this :).
Let’s talk looks.
Externally the looks of the car are very minimalist, elegant and sporty. Angular and curvy at the same time. The front clearly reminds you of the SF90 with similar headlights. The entire profile is designed to direct airflow smoothly and cleanly around the car. The rear buttresses flare up with aero ducts which have become a signature Ferrari styling statement on their mid-engined cars since the 488.
The entire design is a hybrid blend of modern and classic. The SF90 inspires the front. The rear is where the 296 GTB takes inspiration from Ferrari’s 250 LM racecar. The similarity is evident.
To keep the profile clean of aggressive aero work, Ferrari has deployed a couple of active aero features such as
– An active spoiler underneath the car that connects all the way to the rear bumper.
– A roof-mounted wing connecting the two flying buttresses.
– Active rear spoiler inspired by the La Ferrari.
– A “tea-tray” front lip.
It is the shortest modern Ferrari. This means that it should have excellent agility and handling. The shorter the overall length, the easier it is to drive the car aggressively around the track or sweeping roads. It weighs as much as a hatchback at 1470kg.
I personally am waiting for the spyder/Targa/convertible version of this car. I think it will look phenomenal.
Like Ferrari says for this car, “Defining Fun to Drive”.
The interiors are based on the new Ferrari interior design, which debuted on the SF90 and then was seen on the Roma. Everything is minimalistic and digital and designed to make sure you are focused on what this car is designed to do… drive.
Assetto Fiorano Package.
Usually, we see Ferrari launch a car, and then after some time, we see them launch a spyder (convertible) and a lightweight/track version of the same car, and those are made in limited numbers and quite coveted by collectors. However, in the 296 GTB, you can spec the car with the Asseto Fiorano package from the start.
Asseto means balance in Italian, and Fiorano is the track where Ferrari tests their cars. The pack includes special GT racing-derived adjustable Multimatic shock absorbers, high downforce carbon fibre appendages on the front bumper, a Lexan rear screen, and more extensive use of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre in both the cabin (such as the door pads) and exterior (such as the rims). You can even spec the car with Michelin Sport Cup2R high-performance tyres and a unique 250 Le Mans inspired paint scheme (this is not available on the standard car).
Expected to reach customers somewhere around mid of 2022. This car will phase out the F8, so now is your chance to buy if you are looking for that V8. The 296 GTB will come with the seven years maintenance package offered by Ferrari.
The 206 GTB is priced at USD 321,400 for the base model. The track-focused Assetto Fiorano specification meanwhile starts at USD 360,900.
Text and images, courtesy of Shivamu Punjabi.