Ferrari 296 GTB, Track Test

By Dhruv Behl | on November 19, 2022 Follow us on Autox Google News

No prizes for guessing that the Ferrari 296 GTB is our ‘Performance Car of the Year.’ After all, it has a Prancing Horse on the bonnet.

But it’s also a Ferrari with a V6 and a battery pack. And a plug-in hybrid means that it can’t be a real Ferrari, now can it? Well, what if I told you that the 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine alone produces 654bhp – that means that the specific output is a scarcely believable 218 horsepower per litre, which is insane!

And that’s to say nothing of the 165 additional horsepower generated by the 7.45kWh battery pack, which boosts total power to a not-insubstantial 819 horses. With figures like that, I think Ferrari can rest its case.

Yes, it’s the first V6 Ferrari (the Dino 206 and 246 never carried the Ferrari badge, so they don’t count), but the Ferrari engineers nicknamed this engine piccolo V12 (little V12) because of how similar it actually sounds to their legendary full-fat 12-cylinder motor. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s quite as spine-tingling, but it’s an aural, visceral, and dynamic delight all the same.

There was never any doubt that the 296 GTB was going to be the quickest car around the short loop of the BIC this year – it achieved this feat without even breaking a sweat – so we decided to try and see how close we could get to the production car lap record around the full lap of the BIC. Well, at 2 minutes and 09 seconds for a full lap, it wasn’t too far off. In ideal conditions, and with some prep, it could legitimately compete to be the fastest road-legal machine around the 5.1 kilometres of the Buddh International Circuit.

What’s truly impressive about the 296 is the ease with which it delivers its tremendous turn of speed. Despite the massive amounts of tech packed into this machine, the fact that you don’t feel anything other than linear power delivery is a true testament to the brilliance of the Ferrari engineers. With their experience in F1, they are perhaps the best in the world at integrating complex cutting-edge tech and ensuring that it translates to seamless pace and propulsion. And that’s exactly what the 296 GTB does, there are simply no unwanted surges of power, either from the turbos or the electric motor – just a wave of unending thrust.

'A rolling piece of sculpture that also happens to be one of the most potent machines ever conceived'

You can even start off in pure EV mode, so you don’t have to disturb the neighbours if you don’t want to. Of course, if you do choose to, all you have to do is give it a boot full of throttle and the engine roars to life instantly. And the chassis, well, it’s every bit as good as you expect. The V6 is a 120-degree V, with the turbos nestled in between, so the centre of gravity is very low.

100km/h is achieved in less than 3 seconds, and we touched a top speed of over 300km/h on the back straight. But what’s incredible is not the fact that these speeds are achievable, but just how controllable the 296 feels at high three-digit speeds. The chassis is sublime.

And that’s to say nothing of how it looks. If you ask me, it’s the prettiest Ferrari in the range. Those rear haunches – reminiscent of the 275 LM racer from the 60s – are perhaps the prettiest, most curvaceous piece of automotive design to have been penned in the recent past.

This is a machine that takes my breath away – both sitting still and on the move. What more can you ask for from a rolling piece of sculpture that also happens to be one of the most potent machines ever conceived?

  • Ferrari 296 GTB (Lap Time – 01:03.1)
X FACTOR 20 18
LAP TIME 15 15
TOTAL 100 68


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