Ferrari 296 GTB, tiny engine with lots of power.

The quest for efficient power has led manufacturers to downsize their engines and make use of forced induction. Naturally aspirated V8s once powered Ferraris mid-engine cars but they’re now turbocharged. A V6 is not a desirable engine for the prancing horse so only one car has ever used it. The Dino used a 2.0 liter naturally aspirated V6 making just under 200hp in its most powerful form. It wasn’t even recognized as a Ferrari, it was just called Dino and had a Dino badge.

Fast Forward to 2021 and for the 2nd time in its history, the V6 has returned to a Ferrari. It is even recognized as a Ferrari technically making this the first Ferrari with a V6 engine. It’s beautiful, fast, and almost as powerful as any car before it.    

Name

Ferrari has for the most part always named its mid-engine cars with relation to its engine size and the new 296 follows suit. The 296 stands for the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine found inside this car. It is the second Ferrari to ever have a V6 engine since the “Dino”.

Engine

Apart from being the only 6 cylinder Ferrari on sale today, it is now the 3rd hybrid car made by the brand. It is a 2.9-liter twin-turbo unit as stated earlier and produces 654hp with an electric motor attached to it. Combined with the motor it produces 820hp. This is crazy output for a V6 hybrid unit as its closest competition the New McLaren Artura produces just 671 horsepower. Even crazier that’s as powerful as the limited Edition V12 powered Ferrari 812 Competizione. It doesn’t sound half as good as the V12 though.

The engine notes of Ferraris haven’t been as good as the naturally aspirated ones. Internally within Ferrari, the engine is nicknamed Piccolo V12 which means little V12 since it has half the cylinders. I must say it sounds almost like the V8 found in the 488 GTB.

Drivetrain

Rear-wheel drive only as a true Ferrari should be, the electric motor sits on the rear axle and not on the front like the SF90. The gearbox is the new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission found in the 812 superfast and F8 tributo and it is a very fast transmission. The electric motor apart from making extra power can drive the rear wheels in EV mode. It can charge the battery, start the engine like all hybrid and serve as a reverse gear.

Apart from the regular modes found on the manettino like wet, normal, race, etc, there are new drive modes. A new E- manettino which helps control the hybrid drivetrain also has extra modes. There’s now “hybrid” that determines how best to utilize power and “Qualify’ which gears everything towards max power delivery. Lastly ED which is “electric drive” only which is the pure electric mode.    

The electric-only range is 15 miles which is not much but show the car is geared towards performance. The top speed in EV mode is 84mph.

Performance

0-60 comes in at 2.9 seconds.

0-124 mph is gone in 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 205mph. it has also lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1 minute 21 seconds, a second slower than the Laferrari hypercar. 

Interior

Ferrari has been digitalizing most of its controls and newer cars are getting a brand new interface. A new huge colorful central touchscreen that still retains the yellow rev counter like the analog ones. Ferrari’s steering wheels have always had most of the driver controls on them. This still retains that but instead of physical buttons they’re now touch-sensitive parts with haptic feedback. I see a lot of owners accidentally touching things they don’t mean to. The climate controls are touch-sensitive to but those are dedicated sensors and so should be fine. Even the famous BIG RED start/stop button is now just a sensor on the steering wheel. You could also opt for the extra screen for the passenger which I think I would if I was buying one.

The transmission selector is just like the one found in the SF90, a digital button shaped in a 6 speed H pattern. When selected there’s a small light beam that moves in the desired direction to confirm your selection.  

Exterior

In my opinion, I prefer the looks of the 296 to its bigger brother the SF90 Stradale. Its design is inspired by the Ferrari 250LM from 1963, with a lot of modern design cues from the SF90. The front fascia resembles the SF90. Headlights are all new and also serve as intakes to cool the brakes like the Mclaren 720s. There’s a subtle roof spoiler that smoothes air towards the rear spoiler at the end of the car. The exterior has a very clean, smooth design which modern Ferraris have been known for.

Rear windows are vertical instead of glass like that shows of the engine bay like other Ferraris. Instead, there’s a new beautifully designed engine cover housing the V6 engine.

There’s also an integrated rear spoiler that helps with a little extra downforce which at first glance isn’t noticeable at all. It helps provide an extra 100kg of downforce. This type of spoiler can also be seen implemented in the Laferrari and SF90. Taillights are not round, it still houses the brake lights and turn signals in them. Ferrari has also completely changed the exhaust design to a single large but beautiful design which reminds me of the exhaust on a Mclaren P1. I also love the wheels.

Assetto Fiorano

An optional lightweight package first found in the SF90 has also found its way to the 296 GTB. More carbon fiber is standard to help reduce overall weight and even lighter materials like a Lexan rear window. Better suspensions as well as stickier tires a fitted to the car. The car is even painted in a new race-like paint scheme to signify cars that have the Assetto Fiorano package. 

Technology makes new cars faster even with smaller engines. The 296 GTB seems to be an alternative for those who may not be able to afford the more expensive SF90 Stradale. Would you buy one if you had the money or would stick to the old naturally aspirated cars? I know I’d like a Ferrari 458 Italia with a straight piped F1 exhaust.  

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