Ferrari has unwrapped the new 296 GTB as the latest entry into its Berlinetta sports car family, with an all-new hybridised V6 engine arriving in place of the traditional mid-mounted V8.
The new model arrives to complement the F8 Tributo, which will leave production in 2022 once all customer cars have been delivered. This makes the 296 GTB Ferrari’s first ‘mainstream’ electrified offering, after the LaFerrari and SF90 Stradale halo hybrid hypercars.
Its numerical designation is a reference to its 2996cc six-cylinder engine, while the Gran Turismo Berlinetta moniker establishes it as the latest in a long line of Ferrari sports cars that stretches back to the mid-1950s.
Ferrari’s switch from V8 to V6 power for its core sports car line mirrors that of rival McLaren earlier this year, with the Artura V6 plug-in hybrid arriving to replace the Sports Series model family.
First examples will be delivered in European markets beginning in Q1 2022, with prices in Italy starting from €269,000 (£231,000) in Italy, or €302,000 (£259,000) with the track-focused Assetto Fiorano package.
The V6 engine at the heart of the plug-in hybrid powertrain is described as the first “six-cylinder engine installed on a road car sporting the prancing horse badge”. Maranello used a V6 for entry-level sports cars during the 1960s and 1970s, but these were marketed as part of its dedicated and now long-defunct Dino brand.
The 296 GTB’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre unit – an all-new and bespoke powerplant developed in-house by Ferrari – produces 654bhp, which is equivalent to 218bhp per litre – said to be a record for a production car.
In a first for Ferrari, the turbochargers, which can spin up to 180,000rpm, sit between the cylinder banks – a layout chosen for its more compact packaging, lower centre of gravity and reduced engine mass.
The aluminium block’s wide-angle 120deg configuration also means the turbos can sit centrally, shortening the distance to the combustion chamber for maximum intake efficiency.
Despite its forced aspiration and relatively small size, the new V6 is claimed to emit “the harmony of the high-frequency notes of a naturally aspirated V12”, as used by Ferrari’s top-rung GT models.
The 296 GTB leans heavily on the tech-heavy cabin design of the SF90 Stradale flagship, with Ferrari saying it represents “a clear break from the past”.
A concave dashboard section houses the digital gauge cluster and steering wheel, while two panels down to the sides of the instrument panel house capacitive touch controls for an array of functions. A head-up display features, too, while the stereo speakers are finished to match the dashboard for a minimalist look.
One nod to the past, however, comes in the form of a gearshifter styled to reference Ferrari’s classic ‘H-gate’ design.
Mid-engined V8 Ferraris through the years
Ferrari 308, 1975-1985: Best known for its starring role in Magnum PI, the 308 packed Ferrari’s first mid-mounted V8, a 2.9-litre unit producing 252bhp in European specification. Both GTB (coupé) and GTS (convertible) variants were offered.
Ferrari 355, 1994-1999: An evolution of the oft-maligned 348, the 355 put Maranello firmly back on the map, blowing its Porsche 911 and Honda NSX rivals out of the water dynamically and bringing a V8 with more power per litre than the McLaren F1’s V12.
Ferrari 360, 1999-2005: Billed as a Ferrari that you could use every day, the 360 was an altogether curvier, comfier and more capacious proposition than its predecessors. Pace remained a priority, though, and 394bhp was enough for 0-62mph in just 4.5sec.
Ferrari 458, 2010-2015: The 458, the final outing for Maranello’s naturally aspirated V8 engine, enjoys a legacy as one of the more practical Ferraris yet made, albeit one that still produced more than 560bhp and was no stranger to the high side of 200mph.