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The 296 GTB is unveiled at Ferrari Johannesburg. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The 296 GTB is unveiled at Ferrari Johannesburg. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

The 296 GTB represents a new era for Ferrari with its V6 engine and hybrid power-train, and the compact two-seater is pitched as one of the Italian marque’s most fun-to-drive cars.

The mid-engined coupé (or Berlinetta to use the Italian lingo) has arrived in SA with a R6.38m price tag, and there is already a two-year local waiting list. The first unit was unveiled at Ferrari Johannesburg on Friday and in the coming days, prospective customers in Cape Town and Durban will get to see it in the metal.

The first batch of cars have already been spoken for and if you order one today it will arrive in early 2024.

The car’s name combines its total displacement (2,992cc) and number of cylinders, and it’s the first six-cylinder Ferrari-branded car (the V6 Dino of the 1950s didn’t have a Ferrari badge).

This compact engine breaks new ground for a marque better known for its V8s and V12s, but it’s not short of thrust. The turbocharged unit is paired with an electric motor for a total output of 610kW and 740Nm, promising a 330km/h top speed and 2.9 second 0-100km/h sprint.

The rear-mounted 122kW electric motor provides a full-electric mode range of 25km, allowing noise-free operation when one doesn’t wish to wake the neighbours in Beverly Hills or Sandton.

Thrust goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed dual clutch auto transmission, with power managed by an e-diff (electronic differential) that minimises wheelspin. Front and rear double wishbone suspension deliver racecar-like handling, with magnetorheological dampers that adapt to surface changes to deliver a comfortable ride as well.

The 296 GTB is 46mm shorter than the V8-powered Ferrari F8 and also squats closer to the road for a lower centre of gravity. An active rear spoiler pops up to improve high-speed downforce.

The 296 GTB’s striking design is a nod to the Ferrari 250 LM of the 1960s, particularly in its prominent rear haunches with large air intakes. Its other key styling traits are a visor-like windscreen that wraps around onto the side windows, glass engine cover, and a pair of flying buttresses on the tail.

The digitised cabin does away with physical buttons, and a “Manettino” dial on the steering wheel allows the driver to switch between four power settings: eDrive (electric only), Hybrid, Performance (the V6 engine is always on), and Qualify (maximum performance at the cost of lower battery recharging).

For track use the 296 GTB can be ordered with an optional Assetto Fiorano package, which is 15kg lighter and has firmer suspension, with semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R tyres.

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