Review: Ferrari has started a new journey with 296 GTB
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Review: Ferrari has started a new journey with 296 GTB

Review: Ferrari has started a new journey with 296 GTB

We test drive the 296 GTB, an evolution of Ferrari’s mid-rear-engined two-seater sports berlinetta concept, featuring a new V6 engine coupled with a plug-in electric motor that packs a punch

Gulf Business
Ferrari has started a new journey with the 296 GTB

The 296 GTB follows in the “footsteps” of the SF90, Ferrari’s first commercial PHEV model with a V8 hybrid powertrain. When it comes to design, the 296 GTB takes its cues from the 1963 250 LM Ferrari, one of the automaker’s first mid-engine sports cars: the 296 GTB’s rear haunches are smooth and a clear throwback to the classic. Simply put, it’s stunning.

The entire design of the vehicle is very contemporary, incorporating elements from other modern Ferraris. It is minimalist and elegant, with smooth, powerful lines. Multiple vents, ducts and spoilers hide in plain sight over the surface of this car. Cleverly packaging the aerodynamic elements retains its elegant form.

On the inside, the interior is inspired by the Roma and SF90. Infotainment has gone digital with updated software. All the relevant information is visible to the driver on the dashboard, and all the controls are on the steering wheel. Understandingthis system takes some practice, but can be learned quickly. Following the modernisation of the interiors, the 296 GTB
gets a HUD or heads-up display. This is a driver’s car, and everything in the vehicle is designed to ensure you get the best possible driving experience.

You can buy the 296 GTB as a hardtop or a convertible hardtop variant. Customers who want to take the car to the race track can spec the car with the Asseto Fiorano (AF) pack. With the AF pack, you can get lightweight carbon fibre seats, rims, door pads, a carbon fibre roof and other weight-saving elements.

Ferrari 296 GTB
Ferrari 296 GTB

The AF pack also adds an additional body kit for more downforce and better handling on the race track. The pack has multiple cost options for customers to choose from and an optional paint scheme inspired by the LM.You can choose from a wide range of materials for the interiors and external paints to customise the car as per your preference. The quality of materials used in the interiors is luxurious, and the entire interior is covered in plush leather.

Time to answer the key question. Does it drive like a Ferrari? The answer is yes. You will instantly be in familiar territory if you’ve driven one. This car feels at home while cruising effortlessly on Beach Road or tackling hairpins at Yas Marina, and I did both. It even comes with a drift mode.

The V6 hybrid on the 296 GTB produces 819 horsepower and does 0-100kmph in 2.9 seconds. You can also drive in pure electric ‘eDrive’ mode for up to 25km. The battery pack produces 164 horsepower and can be recharged via a wall socket. The V6 twin-turbo engine delivers the balance 655 horsepower. All the power is sent to the rear wheels, and managed by Ferrari’s brand new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

The 296 GTB also provides ample grip, giving the driver a sense of confidence. The short wheelbase helps boost the agility of the car: the 296 GTB can dart in and out of gaps smoothly. The steering response is razor-sharp and gives the driver precision feedback, which is amazing and empowering. You can attribute this to the computer-controlled brain of this cool hybrid model. Ferraris are known for their sound. It’s integral to the essence of the car. With sound and emission norms becoming stricter globally, car brands are trying to stay true to their original engine notes. Ferrari successfully creates a unique and distinct sound for the 296 GTB.

The sound is deep, just like a V12 so much so that it has an in-house nickname, piccolo V12, which means “little V12” in Italian. Due to advanced technology, the engine can be heard inside the cabin, as the engine sound pipes in via speakers. So is there any competition for the Ferrari 296 GTB? While the McLaren Artura claims similar performance numbers, it produces lesser power than the 296 GTB. The MC20 from Ferrari’s sister brand Maserati also has less power than the 296 GTB – and is not a hybrid car. The Ferrari 296 GTB, on the other hand, is the most expensive one in this line-up, with prices starting at Dhs1.4m. Deliveries for the 296 GTB start this year, and after driving the car extensively, all I can say is get in line.

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