I’art is born of constraint, they say. When discovering the Ferrari 296 GTB, one would be tempted to believe it. Like the rest of the automotive industry, the mythical brand with the prancing horse must resolve to drastically reduce CO emissions.2 of its new models, the difficulty consisting in achieving this without giving up the performance and driving pleasure that have made the reputation of the berlinettas assembled in Maranello since 1947. The engineers of the Italian firm were able to rely in this task on a know-how to make technical accumulated in Formula 1, queen discipline of motorsport which since 2014 imposes on the manufacturers who participate in it the use of V6 hybrids.
It is precisely this type of mechanism that the Ferrari engine manufacturers have chosen for their latest creation. Thus, in comparison with the 720 hp V8 of the F8 Tributo, the V6 of the 296 GTB certainly develops “only” 663 hp, but we must add the 167 hp of the electric motor integrated into its gearbox. The latter not only brings the cumulative power to 830 hp, it also allows 100% electric driving of 25 km thanks to a 7.45 kWh lithium-ion battery rechargeable from the mains. From the point of view of the figures, the mission is therefore accomplished since performance is progressing while CO emissions2 are almost halved, from 263 to 149 g / km, which allows the passage to increase the penalty from 40,000 to 900 euros on the French market. CQFD.
From an electric city car…
The 296 GTB is also an undeniable success aesthetically. Inspired by the 250 LM of the 1960s, its body wraps with curves in a timeless style a two-seater coupé with advantageous measurements (L x W x H: 4.57 x 1.96 x 1.19 m). The compactness of the 120° V6 notably made it possible to shorten the wheelbase by 5 cm compared to the brand’s 8-cylinder models. Inside, the human-machine interface combines modernity, with a large block of digital instrumentation for the driving position – to which is added a small touch screen facing the passenger seat –, and typical Ferrari ergonomics consisting of bringing together the maximum number of controls on the steering wheel. Thus to the “manettino” allowing to navigate among the different driving modes is added a tactile surface to control the hybrid system. It is thus possible to force the electric mode for a short trip, or in the city center, which also makes it possible to surprise city dwellers disconcerted by the appearance of a perfectly silent Ferrari. But all it takes is a flick of the thumb or more pressure on the accelerator for the V6 to wake up with a furious yelp and instantly transform the electric city car into a hybrid supercar.
… to a hybrid supercar!
Even more than the soundtrack, it is the scrolling speed of the image which then changes, unreal like that of a video game. Fortunately, the controlled damping and grip of the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires guarantee perfect stability and trajectory precision, even on bumpy departmental roads. But, reasonably, it is on circuit that it is necessary to go to hope to approach the limits of such a machine. This is good because Ferrari has just prepared a special version, called Assetto Fiorano, for this type of playground. Equipped with stiffer titanium springs, Multimatic passive dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R, this 296 GTB has a behavior close to a racing car, while being much more powerful than most current GT3 thanks to its absence of a bridle! With 830 hp under the right foot, the gradual deactivation of the driving aids via the manettino logically reveals attitudes of power oversteer on corner exit, but these intervene very gradually, as if the traction control were not totally disconnected. Bluffing. The ABS Evo system allows you to brake very late, the car remaining stable on its path until the apex. The only caveat is that the “brake-by-wire” type brake pedal does not really allow you to feel the entry into action of the anti-lock system as with a traditional system. Pricing for the 296 GTB starts at 271,114 euros, 303,514 euros for the Assetto Fiorano version.