A Ferrari has always been about speed and the noise along with all the drama which comes standard with a Prancing Horse. However, the 296 GTS is also a new kind of Ferrari where you amble along in silence with the hybrid powertrain doing its magic while a simple push of the throttle or a pull of the steering paddle brings the engine to life. It is a new kind of Ferrari but the ethos is still the same.
I went hunting for some canyon roads in this Italian screamer and the experience with the top down is an adrenalin-soaked ride. The 296 GTS is the new wave of electrified Ferraris which cuts down on cylinders but adds in electrified power but the experience pretty much what you expect.
It is a convertible Ferrari that you enjoy but also respectfully cruise in silence around city streets. This mid-rear-engine two-seater Berlinetta spider is the first of its kind to sport a 6-cylinder engine but banish all thoughts of not having a V8 as this engine is even more feral than what you imagine.
A new kind of Ferrari
Flick the Manettino to its raciest setting and the 2.9-litre V6 turbo bursts into life with an aural symphony that any Ferrari should give its driver. It is loud, brutal and demolishes speed in utter glee. Combined with the hybrid system, the 296 GTS pumps out more than 800 horses and that means, speed is a blur. If you’re going to drive such a race car, some of us like to get decked out in Ferrari accessories – the Ferrari watch contributes nicely to the overall theme of the experience.
More than numbers, the agility and the driving experience come into focus here. As the corners come by, I gain more confidence to pile on more speed and trust my instincts more. The 296b GTS obeys my right foot as it beautifully flows into a corner. The short wheelbase and the avalanche of safety systems make sure I do not do anything scary while it also lets me indulge in exploring its dynamic facets.
The noise is loud and the gearbox is telepathic in terms of its shift quality while the overly sharp steering basically senses what you think. The GTS is not a ‘baby’ Ferrari as it is a supercar unplugged with an epic powertrain. Honestly, I do not miss a V8 and the compact proportions are a relief since too many modern-day supercars are too fast or too overweight to really enjoy them on tight roads.
With roof down, it is more involving than the coupe and you do not sacrifice much in terms of practicality since it is a metal folding roof.
Pumps out more than 800 hp
Some might miss the romance of a folding hardtop but the 296 GTS makes more sense in terms of being a coupe or a convertible in an instant. The interior slightly complicated but it is comfortable while all the controls are bundled on the steering wheel for the driver. There is even a lift system and the ride is not bone jarring too.
You get the sense that the 296 GTS is everything that a Ferrari should promise but without the traditional supercar issues. You can drive it everyday guilt free and when the right road comes up, you just drop a great and that engine will come right along for the drive.
While one can argue that modern supercars are too complicated and need not be as easy to drive as a family hatchback but the relentless progress of technology has made supercars more accessible yet without sacrificing the drama. For Ferrari, the 296 GTS is better than coupe since the dynamic foibles are much less while you get much more return.