Only Ferrari manages to cram an 830 hp hybrid powertrain into a Berlinetta. Isn’t that a bit exaggerated? No, because only at Ferrari does that lead to the most beautiful things. The Ferrari 296 GTB proves that..
Of course every Ferrari is fast. But the Ferrari 296 is still a bit faster. In fact, its technical data is so impressive that we break out in a sweat. 830 hp, 900 Nm, and the rear wheels have to process all that power in pairs. According to the folder, the 0-100 is completed in 2.9 seconds. The temptation is great to shout oooh and aaah a few times and leave it at that. But actually we want to see if the 296 lives up to it in practice.
So we go onto the Nürburgring. We greet the doorman, put the Manettino in Race and the E-Manettino in Qualifying. We switch gears manually and we activate the launch control. One foot on the brake, the other on the gas, the tachometer needle climbs to 3000. Then the left foot is off the brake and off we go…
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For a moment, the 30.5 centimeter wide rear tires search for grip when they get the power boost. But the traction control and the eDiff keep everything in the right direction. The ‘needle’ of the digital tachometer bounces back and forth like a gabber in the Energiehal. Next gear. Very briefly we see 100 km/h in the display. Switch again, and again. 200 km/h, and by now. Anyone who thinks that the power above 250 km / h slowly dies out is wrong. In fact, it only seems to go faster and the experience becomes more intensive. Only from fourth gear does the hybrid powertrain fully release all its power. There is no end to the spectacle, the sensations are poured over us in XXL portions. At 300 km/h we drive at the end of the straight.
0-300 km/h in 17,9 s
Back in the pit box we check how we did. That doesn’t disappoint. 0-100 in 2.8 seconds, 200 km / h in 7.4 seconds and 300 in 18.6 seconds. A Dacia Spring 45 has not even reached a speed of 100 km / h … We are convinced, Ferrari speaks the truth. But Damiano from the Ferrari team that accompanies us thinks otherwise. He rolls a set of Cup tires into the pit box and invites us for a reprise.
Come on, because he insists. First two test starts to get to know the car with its new tires on the track and then for real. Activate launch control, release the brakes … and a few minutes later – overflowing with adrenaline – read the measurement data in the pit lane. Damiano is right, we improved ourselves. 0-100 in 2.7 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 7.1 seconds, and 0-300 km/h – it really says so – 17.9 seconds. Keep breathing! Although we also know that it is not due to our driver qualities, but to the red Ferrari 296 GTB.
The other measurements also result in figures that we used to dream of at school. With the standard tires (Michelin Pilot Sport 4S K1) the car stops after 33.4 meters with cold brakes. When the ceramic brake system is up to temperature, another 1.8 meters is reduced. The Cup tires offer even more grip and therefore even the critical limit of 30 meters is broken. In 29.7 meters we are standing still with warm brakes, we have never experienced that. And with cold brakes, 30.3 meters is also an insane value.
The slalom rushes through the 296 with playful ease and maximum steering precision. It achieves an average of 73.1 km/h, with the Cup tires even 75.3 km/h. For comparison: the Ferrari Pista reached 72.7 km/h, the McLaren Senna 74.7 km/h and the most recent Porsche 911 GT3 74.6 km/h. Mind you: all these cars drove on semislicks.
Yet the Ferrari 296 balances on a tightrope. If you get a little too overconfident, the rear breaks out mercilessly. That looks spectacular and it’s also fun, but you can forget a record time. To get the most out of the car, you have to feel very well what it can do. Fingerspitzengefühl. You also have to keep your wits about you on the highway, and not just because the top speed is above 350 km / h. Because despite sophisticated aerodynamics and a weight of 1644 kilos, the Ferrari is above all one thing: incredibly light-footed. Its handling and flexibility are from another planet.
Only above 300 km/h do you long for stability and tranquility. But even then the Ferrari is far from at the end of its rope and converts every little tug on the steering wheel more spontaneously than it responds to the throttle. Rutting and crosswinds also affect the course – as a driver you have to take this seriously into account at these speeds. Note: you cover 100 meters per second. And then you also have the other traffic, which seems to have come to a standstill. A ride on the autobahn is therefore a matter of utmost concentration.
At Ferrari, building a fast car is not enough, it’s mainly about how the GTB behaves in corners. He has to set new standards there. And so we leave the motorway and drive on the winding roads of the Eifel, around the Nürburgring. Like a leaf on a tree our minds turn; supreme concentration gives way to a big smile. It doesn’t seem to matter how fast and sharp you turn in, the Ferrari no longer does weird things. Understeer no longer occurs, oversteer only when the driver goes very far.
And so the indomitable horse becomes so docile outside the circuit that you even entrust the keys to your frightened neighbor with a Citroën C1. Only if the driver is brave enough to press the accelerator further and further, does the rear become a bit restless again. The interplay of the tyres, the electronics and the formidable chassis provides an almost unreal level of grip and cornering speeds otherworldly. And it’s all so easy… Still, you have to be careful not to get overconfident, because the car’s character changes quickly. If you go too far, you really go too far and the GTB makes weird jumps. If you get the chance to drive this car, it is best to leave all driving assistants on. A steering error will not immediately kill you and the driving pleasure is still at the top level.
And economical too
The fact that driving the 296 GTB is so much fun is not only due to the perfect distribution of power between the electric motor and the six-cylinder. The engine noise also contributes to the feast, which should not be underestimated. The six-cylinder sounds like a V12, the whistling of the wastegate is included for free. Thanks to the boost of the electric motor, the power that is released from a standstill is hard to comprehend. The high-revving V6 with two turbos never stops and only reaches its maximum power of 663 hp at 8000 rpm.
The electric motor recuperates with no less than 122 kW, so that you can always use it, unless you choose to drive purely on the electric motor for a long time. Only then will the battery of 7.45 kWh run out of power for a while. We achieved 18 fully electric kilometers and clocked a top speed on electricity of 135 km / h. That is more than enough to prevent your neighbors from barking brutally out of their sleep in the morning and to quietly drive out of the neighborhood on the electric motor. An additional advantage is that consumption remains very limited: 9.5 l/100 km is just as sensational for a sports car as a top speed of 330 km/h.
Ferrari 296 GTB: conclusion
Appearance and emotions are important seduction tactics in cars like the Ferrari 296 GTB. We are willing to admit that we are sensitive to that. But even when we turn on our gauges, this turns out to be one of the best sports cars we’ve ever driven. The GTB is already an icon. And that is partly due to its battery and its electric motor. Even Freddie Mercury would be jealous of this car’s sound register. The Ferrari now commands the entire spectrum, from quiet and all-electric to fiercely roaring at high revs.
And then there is the chassis that provides endless grip and at the same time surprises on public roads with excellent comfort. Is this Ferrari’s Porsche 911? Not that. The bucket seats offer too little comfort on long distances, because of the special design you have little room to move and the practical convenience is virtually zero. A fascinating sports car that is pure, expensive, intensive and exotic at the same time.