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296 GTB plug-in hybrid joins Ferrari’s zero emissions-capable range

Ferrari isn’t the obvious brand to be working hard to reduce its cars’ emissions but with the launch of the new 296 GTB, it will soon have two PHEVs in its range. It follows the SF90 Stradale and carries over the tech that debuted on that car, but to our eye is prettier and more useable.

Ferrari isn’t just using zero emissions capability to keep the 296 GTB’s emissions in check; it’s downsized the petrol engine, knocking two cylinders off with the introduction of a brand new V6 turbo petrol motor – the first six-cylinder to find its way into a Ferrari road car since the ’70s. Obviously, before we get too carried away it’s important to remember that Ferrari has developed this powertrain as much to go faster as it has to reduce emissions, but it’s a step in a sustainable direction.

Powertrain and performance

The mid-mounted 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol motor might be smaller, lighter and down on cylinders, but it still pushes out 654bhp on its own. Two banks of three cylinders are set at 120 degrees to one another, making space for the turbos to be mounted centrally, reducing the engine’s size and also increasing both intake and exhaust efficiency. A high compression ratio of 9.4:1 has helped unleash more power, whilst rotating masses are down and balance is up.

Alongside the V6 is a 165bhp, 232lb-ft electric motor which is located between the engine and eight-speed gearbox (unlike in the SF90, where the motor drives the front wheels). This pulls power from a 7.45kWh battery located under the floor to keep the weight low (dry weight of the car is 1470kg), further aided by the battery’s small size. It’s good for around 15 miles on electric power and can easily hit motorway speeds before the petrol engine kicks in.

Obviously, driving on electric mode isn’t Ferrari’s top priority; rather, enhancing performance is and the 296 GTB is hardly lacking in this department. With a total of 818bhp and 545lb-ft on offer, 0-62mph takes 2.9 seconds, 0-124mph just 7.3 seconds and the top speed is north of 205mph.

Exterior design

Being a mid-engine Berlinetta, the 296 GTB isn’t a large car, measuring 4565mm long, 1958mm wide an 1187mm tall. Its aesthetics are designed in part around aerodynamic efficiency which in the case of a supercar means balancing downforce with getting rid of heat as well as being slippery in a straight line. Some 360kg of downforce – the equivalent of four large men – is generated at 150mph, whilst active aero features ensure that the downforce is there when it’s needed, but reduced when it’s not.

It’s a pleasingly clean car to look at when compared to some Ferraris of late, with the teardrop headlights flanking a low bonnet line which helps emphasise the muscular front wings. There’s a large glasshouse ‘visor’ style windscreen for the cockpit, with flying buttresses at the rear bringing the roofline onto the engine cover. Large rear air intakes flow into even more muscular wheel arches as part of Ferrari’s ‘Kamm tail’.

Interior

Ferrari has developed the 296 GTB’s cockpit around an entirely digital interface similar to that found in the SF90 Stradale. Compared to its bigger brother, Ferrari wanted to tone down the 296 GTB’s interior, adding a bit more sophistication and elegance to proceedings – mirroring the car’s exterior, according to Ferrari itself.

Central to the driver’s interface with the car is a 16 inch digital HD cluster with a central rev counter and speed readout, flanked by navigation and other supplementary information. Two ‘side satellites’ have a captive touch area for controls and an air vent. Almost everything is driver-focussed, with the passenger area being almost entirely lacking in interactive features.

Price and availability

Production starts early next year, so we’ll find out the prices closer to that time. Don’t expect it to be cheap, mind!

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