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First drive: Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.

First drive: Ferrari 296 GTB
Ferrariís new mid-engined supercar is, shock of shocks, a hybrid. But itís still absolutely brilliant.

   



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2022 Ferrari 296 GTB

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At first glance, it looks like another glorious mid-engined Ferrari, but the 296 GTB hides one or two little secrets. For one, it's a plug-in hybrid, which means you could, if you so wished, drive it solely on electric power and never burn a drop of petrol. But if you do want to burn petrol, there's a 2.9-litre V6 (not a V8, you'll note) to give it some extra oomph. This car is not a typical Ferrari, but is that a bad thing? We hit the road and track to find out.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Ferrari 296 GTB
Price: From £241,550
Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol with electric motor
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Battery: 7.45kWh
Power: 830hp
Torque: 740Nm
Emissions: 149g/km
Economy: 44.1mpg
0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
Top speed: >205mph
Boot space: 201 litres

Styling

Ferrari's designers don't always get it right, but when they do the results are astonishing. The new 296 GTB is unbelievably easy on the eye, and just when you think it couldn't look any better, you see it from another breathtaking angle. But it isn't a case of function over form. See those little nostrils by the headlights? They're for directing air to the brakes, while there's a retractable rear spoiler that pops out from between the tail lights.

Interior

Ferrari has a nasty habit of over-complicating car interiors, and though the 296 GTB cockpit looks modern and sporty enough, it's certainly complex. The steering wheel, for example, largely does away with conventional switches in favour of touch-sensitive, haptic controls. And the same goes for some of the dashboard controls. There's a huge digital instrument cluster that's very clever and very sharp, but also quite fiddly, and there are touch-sensitive controls for the hybrid system. Even the engine start button isn't really a button. And Ferrari continues to eschew conventional indicators. Of course, the build quality is generally very good and the materials are excellent, but while the cabin is certainly a talking point, it's for the wrong reasons.

Practicality

The 296 GTB is a supercar through and through, and that means practicality is hardly among its chief concerns. The hybrid system's battery lives behind the seats, so there's only a very small parcel shelf back there, and there's no boot at the rear of the car. Instead, you get a 201-litre load space between the front wheels, which is quite competitive alongside some other supercars, but it can't make up for the interior space. The 296 GTB is still less practical than, say, a Porsche 911 GT3, which has acres of space where a standard 911 would have shoehorned some rear seats.

Performance

Between the seats and the rear wheels is a complicated plug-in hybrid powertrain, which combines a rechargeable battery with a petrol engine and an electric motor. But don't go thinking this is as efficient as a plug-in hybrid Octavia. The battery only measures 7.45kWh, so range is limited, and there's still a 2.9-litre V6 providing most of the power. In total, the 296 GTB sends 830hp to the rear wheels, allowing a sub-three-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of well over 200mph. It's mind-blowingly quick, and though you can drive short distances in eco-friendly electric mode, you'll really want to hear the V6 roar. The sound is addictive and outrageous in equal measure. But if you can control your cave-dweller instincts, the car can be surprisingly efficient, topping 40mpg on the official economy test.

Ride & Handling

Even Ferrari admits the 296 GTB is not here to hug the nearest tree. Instead, it exists to go quickly, whether there's a corner in the way or not. And it's very capable, with utterly sublime handling that's every bit as astonishing as the straight-line performance. With the 296, Ferrari wanted to focus on cornering speeds and the ability to brake late, so there's a brake-by-wire system that provides a surprising amount of feel and enormous stopping power. Ferrari's trademark light steering features too, offering plenty of precision and a sense of agility that's matched by grip and body control. It's a car you can really chuck around, and although it's immensely powerful, it doesn't feel especially threatening with it. Sure, the back will slide, but the 296 always feels controllable and usable. It's awesome.

Value

The 296 GTB costs a fortune. At more than £240,000, itís about £40,000 more than a Maserati MC20 Ė a car thatís almost as easy on the eye and equally fast both in a straight line and in corners. And of course, once youíve got the 296 you want, youíre probably talking about the best part of £300,000. So youíll need deep pockets, but the rewards for shelling out are substantial, and the 296 GTB is easily one of the best supercars in recent years.

Verdict

The 296 GTB might break all the usual Ferrari rules, but that doesnít stop it being one of the best Ferraris of recent years. Mixing beauty and handling with performance and technology, itís an outstanding showcase of how moving with the times can be an enjoyable Ė even beneficial Ė experience. This is one of the best supercars you can buy, and when there are so many great cars out there, thatís saying something.



James Fossdyke - 1 Jan 2023



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2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.

2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Image by Ferrari.







 

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