Good things come in threes, it’s been said, and the new Ferrari 296 GTB is not only the third new model the Italian automaker has introduced this year, but it’s also the exclusive marque’s third series-production hybrid, following the 2019 SF90 Stradale and the SF90 plug-in model introduced last year.
The drivetrain could surprise some traditional Ferrari fans as engineers eschewed the company’s familiar V-8 and V-12 powertrains in favor of a wide-vee 6-cylinder design. But there’s no reason to fear Ferrari’s increasing focus on going green means it will sacrifice performance.
The 296 GTB pairs the V-6 not only with a single electric but also adds on twin turbos. All told, the combination comes together to deliver 830 horsepower. That, Ferrari claims, will propel the new 2-seater from 0-100 kmh, or 62 mph, in a mere 2.9 seconds.
Ferrari has never been shy about playing with new technology, something that helped it maintain a consistent edge both in motorsports and on-road performance. It was one of the first exotic brands to experiment with electrification, using a hybrid system in its one-time flagship, the La Ferrari.
Like competitors such as McLaren and Lamborghini, however, Ferrari is under pressure to move more aggressively, especially with key markets like China enacting ever-stiffer emissions and fuel efficiency mandates.
In April, Chairman John Elkann — who was, at the time, serving as acting CEO — told shareholders the automaker will have its first battery-electric vehicle ready to go in 2025. It’s widely expected that the unnamed model will be just the first of more to come. And Ferrari is widely expected to add still more hybrids, as well. This shift was only underscored by the automaker’s decision to name Benedetto Vigna its new chief executive. The physics graduate was a 26-year veteran of chipmaker STMicroelectronics.
Even before the new CEO has a chance to put his stamp on Ferrari, the company is clearly moving in a direction where it will take advantage of the incredible torque electric motors can deliver.
The heart of the new 296 GTB is, of course, its 3.0-liter V-6 which uses an unusually wide, 120-degree vee layout. This has several advantages: lowering the cowl of the new sports car while also allowing twin turbochargers to be nestled deep in that valley for more immediate responsiveness.
The gas engine alone would deliver an impressive 654 horsepower — an industry-leading output for its displacement. Now, add the 122 kilowatts, or 165 hp, the electric motor brings to the package — as well as its instantaneous torque — and the combined drivetrain output comes to 830 hp when you include those pesky fractions.
The electric motor, incidentally, sits between the V-6 and the GTB’s 8-speed double-clutch transmission, power then directed to the rear wheels.
There’s another spec that might take Ferrari owners by surprise. A 7.45 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery lets the 296 GTB travel up to 16 miles in all-electric mode. This could prove significant in some locales — such as Paris and London — where regulators are looking to ban vehicles that aren’t operating in zero-emission mode.
More to come
One look at the new sports car and buyers will know that the 296 GTB is more than just an expensive plug-in hybrid. The design is striking, with a distinctive front snout that will approach other drivers like a hungry shark. GTB’s high-tech features also include an automatically deploying rear wing which helps keep it glued to the pavement at high speeds.
The techno-thrust continues inside where the 296 GTB shares the curved, 16-inch gauge cluster first seen on the SF90. There’s also a heads-up display. And passengers get their own display to watch what the driver is up to.
Expect to see the Ferrari 296 GTB reach showrooms around the first quarter of next year. By then, we anticipate hearing about even more about the automaker’s electrification plans. The new Purosangue, Ferrari’s upcoming — and first-ever — SUV is also expected to offer a PHEV drivetrain. It’s not yet clear if that will be its only powertrain package or an option, however.