Ferrari’s overnight announcement of a new car was rumoured to be the firm’s first V6-powered entry since the 1970s, with many thinking it would represent the return of the ‘Dino’ nameplate. And, perhaps, thinking it would be a new entry-level model for the line-up.
But, the new Ferrari 296 GTB is not remotely entry level. Although its hybrid V6 layout prompted early comparisons to the likes of the similarly formatted McLaren Artura, the 296 actually sits above the Ferrari F8 Tributo.
The new model is a visual mix of Tributo proportions and details lifted from the Ferrari SF90 hybrid hypercar. Barring the big central exhaust mounted above the rear number plate, it’s a fairly subtle and balanced affair; clearly following in the footsteps of the likes of the 458 and 488, but clearly simultaneously a sister-car to the SF90 and Roma.While it sits above the Tributo, the 296 is also a touch smaller. It is 46mm shorter in length, and has 50mm less wheelbase. It weighs 1470kg dry, curiously making it 35kg lighter than the F8 but 35kg heavier than the Artura. Those who want an even lighter experience can get the Assetto Fiorano handling package, which swaps the body panels for ones made out of carbon fibre, while also adding Michelin Cup 2 Rs and multimatic dampers.
Unveiled in full in an online launch event last night, the 296 sports a 120-degree 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 producing 488kW by itself. Ferrari claims the subsequent 162kW per litre is the highest specific output of any car engine on the planet.
With the 122kW electric motor tacked on, total output is rated at 610kW, making this much more powerful than the 500kW Artura. The ICE and electric pair utilise an eight-speed transmission and a 7.45kWh battery pack. For those trips into town, the 296 gets a full EV mode, with Ferrari saying it will travel around 25km on pure electric.
The numbers are undoubtedly impressive, and they only get more impressive when citing the firm’s claimed performance figures. It’ll hit 100km/h in 2.9 seconds and 200km/h in 7.2 seconds. It eclipses the 200mph marker too, with a top speed of 205mph (330km/h).
The sizzling performance stuff continues when the 296 is plonked on a track. According to Ferrari, it’s capable of lapping its Fiorano test facility in 1min 21sec. That’s 1.5-seconds quicker than the F8 Tributo; a huge margin on a track so short.
The exterior’s new-but-familiar looks continue inside, where we see an evolutionary dashboard. What’s allowed it to look like this is the fact that it’s not weighed down (visually and maybe also literally) by a whopping touch screen in the centre.
There’s lots of neat little details to be spotted. The gear selector, for instance, mimics the classic open-gate shifter of past Ferraris. The slabby nature of the dashboard’s bottom half is reminiscent of the last Dino. And, unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of red on show.
While it’s not the ‘cheap’ Dino throwback some might have been hoping for, the 296 is nevertheless another symbol of the next-generation of ferocious hybrid supercars. One wonders, with European regulators’ disdain for any internal combustion engine right now, how long the era will last.