“Fun to drive” and Ferrari used in the same sentence might sound like an oxymoron to many fans of the Prancing Horse. After all, isn’t that true of everything made by Maranello?
However, when that promise also states that the definition of fun to drive has been redefined, without the use of one of Enzo’s charismatic V8 or V12 engines, matters automatically get more serious as undivided attention intensifies.
Aside from having only six cylinders – a first for a Ferrari road car since the iconic 264 Dino GT of the 1960s, the 296 GTB, or Grand Turismo Berlinetta, faces not just the pressure of its power unit, but also being the new gateway model to Ferrari ownership.
Taking up the position below the F8 Tributo as the most accessible non-GT coupe model, the first Ferrari model to wear the GTB name since the 488 GTB made its official South African debut last week after bowing internationally last year.
Said to build on the marque’s often forgotten V6 tradition that stretching back to 1957, the 296 GTB has been styled along the line of not only its senior sibling, but also the SF90 Stradale and the 250 LM that became a dominated force in sports car racing in the 1960s.
Noticeably stockier and more compact than the F8 Tributo on first glance, the 296 GTB has had its aerodynamics sculpted in a such way so as not to attract attention in the same way as its sibling.
Made out of carbon fibre and fitted with a Ferrari first tree-tray front splitter, a comparatively small rear spoiler, carbon diffuser and side sills, the 296 GTB is claimed to produce 360 kg of downforce at 250 km/h, with an additional help being a sealed underbody and chassis made out of aluminium.
Fitted with Ferrari’s latest Slip Control system, brake-by-wire ABS and electronic differential, the interior has been designed in a wraparound style with all of various functions displayed on the instrument cluster and controlled via the steering wheel.
Snug and decked-out in leather and carbon fibre, the 296 GTB’s main drawing card though resides at the rear in the form of that V6.
Positioned low down, a lot even for a Ferrari, the 120-degree twin-turbo bent-six displaces 2.9-litres and despite claims of it having been lifted from the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV and Stelvo Q, it is in fact a bespoke to Ferrari unit made exclusively for the 296 GTB.
Pumping out 488 kW, the engine, like the 3.9-litre V8 in the F8, has been supplemented with a 7.45-kWh battery that drives a 122 kW electric motor housed within the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Despite tipping the scales at 1 470 kg, the hybrid system produces a combined 610kW/740Nm, which allows for a top speed of 330 km/h, 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 7.9 seconds and an all-electric range of 25 km at speeds up to 135 km/h.
If that isn’t enough, buyers can also opt for the Assetto Fiorano package, which brings adjustable Multimatic shock absorbers, eschewing of the interior door panels and replacing of the rear window with a piece of Lexan plastic.
Special Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2R tyres are wrapped around the 20-inch alloy wheels, with the package being rounded off by the removal of several comfort features, a special silver and yellow paint option that pays homage to the 250 LM and a restyled carbon front bumper.
Now available from Ferrari South Africa importer Scuderia South Africa, the 296 GTB carries a sticker price of R6.380,200 that includes a three year/unlimited km warranty.