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The Ferrari 296 GTB Poses a New Frontier for a Hallowed Brand

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‘The end of a story doesn’t mean that the book ends, it just means a new chapter begins’. Or, something like that. Either way, somewhere in Ferrari Headquarters they have a poster with that adage plastered on a poster. And boy have they lived up to it. With Ferrari’s pledge to slowly phase out internal combustion engines, the prancing horse expands upon the progress made with the SF90 Stradale and has released its replacement, the 296 GTB. Added on to after only 3 years in production, the $700,000 price tag for its PHEV setup, Ferrari tries again, this time delving deeper into the hybrid segment by dumping money into its development and research to try and put out a formidable competitor in a growingly cluttered segment.

The McLaren Artura might’ve been the catalyst in the hybrid supercar category, but it certainly isn’t new. As one of the worst polluters in terms of per vehicle emissions, supercars have always been under a ton of flak for not being exactly the best for the environment. Ferrari, as most auto manufacturers, is looking to change that. The new 296 GTB, a moniker for its gasoline powered engine’s displacement and the 6 for its number of cylinders— aptly named, a V6. A 2.9 L V6 conjoined with a 7.45 kWh battery that can go up to 15.2 miles on its own sits in the rear of the 296, joining the SF90 as the new hybrid on the block, it’ll be Ferrari’s first ever modern day V6. Sitting at a 120 degree tilt, the V6 in the back sits more like a flat six, 60 degrees to be exact. Pythagoras would be proud of the math I just managed to do in my head.

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Let’s talk numbers, and while the engine may be different, some things always carry over. Ferrari performance tends to always be Ferrari performance. Better than nearly anything on this planet. 0-60 ran in 2.7 seconds and 5-60 in 2.9. Instant torque hits straight from the getgo, with a ‘throw you back in your seat’ type power. While the SF90 has 986 horsepower, the downgraded engine in the 296 jets out 654 horsepower and for all you electric gurus, the EV motor spews out 164 horsepower as well as a lightning fast 232 lb-ft of torque. Poured into an 8-speed dual clutch transmission, the 296 is sure to kill the dragstrip straight off power alone. Shift speeds are quite obviously expected to be fast, and rivals Porsche’s famed PDK, albeit a 7-speed comes with the Porsches. 

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Surprisingly as more supercars heed their power to all four wheels with their new AWD systems. Think Lamborghini’s AWD Huracan, and the 296’s own brethren, the SF90. The 296 will still offer a RWD platform allowing you to do more… err, classy burnouts. Think of it as playing the electric guitar while sipping a cup of tea with your pinky up. One thing we love straight off the bat is the weight of the engine situated in the back. You see, there’s always a tradeoff, a too heavy engine, you can’t do sick drifts and burnouts because there’s too much traction on the rear wheels. Too little weight and your rear end creates lift and you suddenly find yourself in a very… very expensive catapult. The new V6 finds a sweet spot middle ground with a total curb weight of 3,241 lbs, the strike zone for a perfect curb weight. 

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As a new frontier for Ferrari, the Italians have poured nearly everything in terms of R&D on this vehicle, making sure every aspect was right. What? You didn’t think Enzo Ferrari was a man of attention to detail? With both passive and active aerodynamic aspects scattered around the car it’s hard to look past any aspect of it. Staring at us blatantly in the face is the active wing situated on the rear of the car. When up, the wing will produce an astonishing 100 kilos of extra downforce (that’s 220 lbs for us ‘Murican folks), and will be able to be manually operated via a toggle switch in the cabin. Filling its vehicles with weight-saving lightweight aspects has always been the name of the game for Ferrari, and have been one of the most vocal and major proponents for “Carbon Fiber the World”, and the 296 fares no different. The material follows all throughout the car, carbon fiber trim pieces on the interior and exterior, dashboard trim, little tiny carbon fiber badges, you name it. The appendages on the front bumper, something that’ll get littered with scratches and mars fairly frequently also is made out of the material… Ferrari engineers may have had a brain aneurysm on that one.

The styling is uniquely modern Ferrari. It doesn’t look like the old ones, this one is more flowy and quote unquote “beautiful”. Ferrari styling has taken on a new look in recent memory. The Roma had the same styling as well as the the SF90 stradale, emphasizing the hybrid and futuristic look. A fastback design doesn’t follow the 296, as the rear glass sits upright to make room for the cross-plane V6. Flying buttresses flank both sides of that glass, making it look like a true Ferrari from the sides.

Horse fans don’t quiver, as Ferrari will pump the V12 exhaust note through cabin speakers, *shudder*. And here’s my two cents, not that anyone asked but, I feel like there should at least be an option to keep the V6 noise and make it its own unique symphony, but considering there’s two full paragraphs dedicated to the exhaust note in the press release, I’d only expect it to sound like a true V12, or at least that’s what Ferrari would like you to believe. 

Overall, the new 296 GTB will have to face fierce competition between the McLaren Artura and the unreleased Maserati MC20. The 296 will start just north of $300,000, a competitive MSRP especially in such a razor thin segment. The 296 will also be available with the Assetto Fiorano Package, a high performance add-on that comes complete with carbon and lightweight pieces, including carbon fiber wheels. 

On top of all this, the engine still comes with two turbos, however they have been redesigned and downsized to reduce turbo lag and improve throttle response. So consider it a twin-turbo V6 with a dual-rotor single-stator axial flux electric motor. 

At the end of the day, consider the 296 a stepping stone for Ferrari to release their first full EV, which it pledges to release by 2025. It’ll be interesting to see if Ferrari will actually release a hybrid or EV SUV, but this is just the start of a new frontier and uncharted waters for such a historic brand.         

                                                                                                                   

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