First Drive: Ferrari 296 GTB – 819bhp turbo-hybrid supercar

First Drive: Ferrari 296 GTB – 819bhp turbo-hybrid supercar

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This is the Ferrari 296 GTB. It is a deeply, furiously complex car. A 819bhp turbo-hybrid six-cylinder supercar that can also run silently on electricity. A £241,550 Dino successor that slots into the mid-engined ‘everyday’ Ferrari lineage that started with the 308 47 years ago and has continued without interruption – and with some legendary highlights, including the 458 Speciale – ever since. Could it be one of the best prancing horses ever? Magazine’s Head of Car Testing – Ollie Marriage – takes it on road and track to find out… Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team?

my god bennett it accelerates fast well it’s a different way to experience a ferrari that’s for sure and you know what i’m really enjoying it it’s stealthy i’m blending in not causing a fuss but i know what you’re thinking it’s a red ferrari it should be stampeding around like a rampant stallion relax it can absolutely do that but isn’t it nice not to have to do that for there to be another way for this car to give you options just don’t go thinking you can spend all day cruising around on 165 electric horsepowers for starters you’re no quicker than a vauxhall corsa especially if it’s a rental and you’ve got a maximum range of about 15 miles call it that many minutes and uh time’s up and now time is being furiously compressed so much so that it stripped all the red paint off the car obviously i’m in a different car yeah ferrari insists that red on road yellow on track but obviously now not 165 horsepower no no no no the full house 818. that is definitely more like it oh working it quite hard up already through monte blancos twists and turns it’s a good circuit this really good circuit we have to break it up through here and then along here hard on the brakes long right hand uh patient with the throttle nail it on the way out and off we go it’s let me go that’s 180 k’s 200 k’s 220 k’s my gordon bennett it accelerates fast right let’s put the manatino into ctr this race you can still feel it holding you back oh it’s so playful oh i’m rather rather liking this it’s so tail happy at the back when you go in under the brakes it just wanted to slide that’s all it was to do and if he goes so fast it’s actually starting to slacken the harnesses off oh my god these brakes this abs evo system is amazing i’m absolutely so impressed with it how it manages all the traction but what impresses me so much about this i know a ferrari should be alert and easy to drive and everything but given the complexity underneath i’m staggered by that right let’s show you what all the fuss is about pop that and there it is and for the first time since the 458 it’s actually a ferrari that’s named properly well almost the engine is actually much closer to a three liter but that might have drawn comparisons with an old peugeot it’s a clean sheet design and what’s really interesting is it’s got a very wide angle it’s at 120 degree v6 so the famous red crackle covers have gone they’re buried right down on the sides and instead what we have in the middle is a pair of turbos they’re made by ihi the same company that made them for the f-14 donkeys years ago and they’re shared with the sf-90 but they’re different to that slightly they’re slightly smaller and they’re more efficient as a result and they spin faster 180 000 rpm but most important of all they respond faster what they don’t do is hold power back at all this engine develops 663 horsepower and revs to 8500 the single electric motor sits between the v6 and gearbox it’s a disc about the size of a frying pan and just 50 millimeters thick the 8-speed twin clutch is also from the sf-90 but the car we should actually be drawing comparisons with is the f8 tributeo the more compact engine means that the whole car is 50 millimeters shorter overall than an old f8 tributeo but let’s forget technicalities for a second and just check out the way this thing looks i think it is a cracking piece of design with this sort of visor-like wrap-around windscreen and these vents back here which are inspired by the old 250 lm i think it is a really really good piece of design being a track car of course this one has the assetto firano pack and at the front there’s another element in the splitter to give you another 10 kilos more downforce it’s neither here nor there really nor is the 12 kilos that it saves you overall the big changes the big performance advantages you get are the multimatic dampers and the tires which are michelin cup 2rs and if you want to make a big difference to your performance that’s the way to do it but the real genius isn’t in the weight saving it’s in the electronics because getting a hybrid to work well to be exciting and engaging to work smoothly and naturally is really really tough back to the track right let’s just reduce the angles of attack for a second to take in what we’re dealing with here because i can’t remember the last time i had more fun driving a car on track it is so playful this thing and so friendly and so capable the front end you just put it where you want it the rear wow that’s a different matter altogether that doesn’t that appears to be allergic to grip even on these cup two tyres it just cuts loose so easily so i’m trying to decide what is more impressive here the chassis or the power train because for a v6 this thing is ungodly absolutely astonishing i thought the natuno v6 in the maserati mc20 was impressive but here backed up by a very surreptitious hybrid system that you’re not never feels particularly like you’re using electricity on track instead it just feels like you’re getting this enormous punch of instant response just astonishing torque and delivery and power that’s everywhere throughout the rev range from 2000 all the way up to eight and a half and it yowls it yells the internal nickname for this is the piccolo v12 the little v12 it’s not quite there it’s not quite naturally aspirated v12 but do you know what it’s properly exciting this agent but all i’ve done here is had just a brilliant time charging around on a circuit maybe we need to find out if the 296 has a bit more bandwidth a quick snap and look we’re back in a red car which means no assetto furano pack so we have conventional adaptive dampers and michelin’s less hardcore pilot sport 4s tires and we’re on a road we’re just going to let the car drive see how hybrid mode performs see how it manages itself just how well it drives everything feels crisp and immediate and ferrari have done better than anyone at managing the steering system so super fast steering rack but yet it feels controlled you can just pour it smoothly into corners it’s one of those deceptively fast cars because that electricity is so carefully blended with the turbo power it feels super smooth and yet you dialed up too much speed it just feels like a lovely way of getting about let’s just stick it in e drive for a second and the sound goes it’s almost quite uncanny actually it’s just a bit strange to lose all that noise all of a sudden and it’ll go around the corners quickly but you’re not punching out the other side exactly and put it into hybrid there we go now it decides what it wants to do fire up the engine or go quiet i think the key for me is that the the sf-90 felt like that they’d conquered they’d use technology to conquer dynamics and it felt quite a technical car whereas this they’ve worked out how to take those changes that technology and make it fun because the sf90 is just like this it’s so fast it’s shocking and it’s got so much grip and traction but this even though you’re gripping hard just feels playful in a way that car doesn’t but fundamentally there’s not a lot to complain about in here the steering wheel is comfortable to hold the visibility is good the seats are holding me in place really well the design and everything feels special it feels exciting to be in here but let’s pull over and let you have a look around the cabin so first and foremost here’s the seats and as you can see they’ve got cutouts in the back so they help if you’ve got a sweaty back they also have a tilt function which is quite useful because you’ve got a bit of a shelf back here now under there sits the battery pack and it’s a bit like having a third passenger because it weighs about 70 kilos tucked under there but on top you’ve got storage for soft bags and that’s not all now one of the criticisms of this car’s bigger brother the sf90 is that you can’t actually use very much because it’s four wheel drive with two electric motors up front it’s got no luggage space but look this one’s huge you can get plenty of bags in there but the sf90 is not the car to be comparing this with there are two cars that have a bearing on this one of which is the mclaren arturo which isn’t here yet but there’s quite a gulf between those two cars the mclaren is less powerful about 150 horsepower down on this and less expensive this when it goes on sale in a few months time is going to be 241 000 pounds and that’s before you stick the assetto fiorano pack on which is another 26 000 pounds the other car that has a bearing on this is the f8 now ferrari say this doesn’t replace the f8 it sits in the model range above it this is another 40 000 pounds more expensive but surely that’s just a car for those who are allergic to electricity and i’m really not one of those having driven this so the question is does this offend me as a hybrid with two less cylinders well no not at all i think it’s considerably better i was more offended when ferraris added two turbos to the four or five eight to make the four eight eight than i am when they’ve taken two cylinders away from this i’m completely convinced by this as a hybrid i think it’s absolutely astonishing but i might just go and drive it but probably with the v6 on this time you

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