Published on July 6th, 2022 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Ferrari 296 GTB Sepang 6 Laps Test Drive Excitement
We were surprised that the 296 GTB was so easy to drive.
Whenever there is an invite to get behind the wheel of a new Ferrari, we never refuse. Why, well, it is after all the most exotic supercar brand in the world.
Yes, there are many rivals in the ‘space’ like McLaren, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG, BMW M and Porsche, however, there is just something a little bit more special about Ferrari and the good people at Naza Italia are always generous with their vehicles when it comes to media test drives.
This time it was to be at the Sepang race circuit which means some tire squealing and a possible 260km/h plus driving top speed.
This was the regional launch of the Ferrari 296 GTB, an all new supercar with an all new F1 derived V6 hybrid powertrain (yes, just a V6) and we were the first few to take the wheel and abuse this seductive looking supercar for 6 full laps.
Launched recently on March 28th 2022 in Malaysia for RM1.2 million before options and local duties, more than 24 Malaysians at the time booked this all new Ferrari.
Meanwhile, looking at the specification sheet and the factory performance data, it looks like its nearest rival is the McLaren Artura which is also powered by a 3.0 V6 hybrid powertrain.
The Artura accelerates from standstill to 100km/h in 3.0 seconds, but the 296 GTB completes it a little faster in just 2.9 seconds.
The 296 GTB is the first Ferrari road car to sport a V6 turbo with a vee with an angle of 120° between the cylinder banks, coupled with a plug-in electric motor. This new V6 has been designed and engineered from a clean sheet by Ferrari’s engineers specifically for this installation and is the first Ferrari to feature the turbos installed inside the vee.
Aside from bringing significant advantages in terms of packaging, lowering the center of gravity and reducing engine mass, this particular architecture helps deliver extremely high levels of power. The result is that the new Ferrari V6 has set a new specific power output record for a production car of 221 cv/l.
As the V6 turbo is integrated with an electric motor at the rear, the Ferrari 296 GTB’s combined maximum power output is strong 830 cv, putting it at the top of the rear-wheel-drive sports car segment as well as making it extremely flexible.
This is true both in terms of day-to-day contexts (the 296 GTB has a full-electric mode range of 25 km), and in driving enjoyment (accelerator pedal response is instant and smooth at all engine speeds).
The powertrain assembly comprises a V6 turbo ICE, with the 8-speed DCT and E-Diff, and the MGU-K located between the engine and the gearbox.
A clutch is set between the ICE and the electric motor to decouple them in electric-only eDrive mode. Lastly there is a high-voltage battery and the inverter which controls the electric motors.
Sound-wise, the 296 GTB rewrites the rulebook by harmoniously combining two characteristics that are normally diametrically opposed: the force of the turbos and the harmony of the high-frequency notes of a naturally-aspirated V12.
Even at low revs, inside the cabin, the soundtrack features the pure V12 orders of harmonics which then, at higher revs, guarantee that typical high-frequency treble. This Ferrari’s soundtrack matches its performance, creating a sense of unprecedented involvement, and marking the turning of a new page in Maranello’s berlinetta history.
This is the first ever Ferrari with a rear-wheel drive-only PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) architecture in which the ICE is integrated with a rear-mounted electric motor producing up to 122 kW (167 cv) derived from the Formula 1 application from which it also inherits the MGU-K (Motor Generator Unit, Kinetic) moniker.
The electric motor and ICE communicate via the Transition Manager Actuator (TMA) which allows them to be used both together to produce a combined power output of 830 cv or decouples them to allow the electric motor to run solo.
Aside from the V6 turbo and the 8-speed DCT already adopted on the SF90 Stradale, Ferrari Roma, Portofino M and the SF90 Spider, the powertrain architecture also includes the MGU-K electric motor positioned between the engine and gearbox, the TMA to decouple the electric motor from the ICE, the 7.45 Kwh high voltage battery, and the inverter which controls the electric motors.
The MGU-K is a dual-rotor single-stator axial flux motor. Its compact size and its structure allowed the length of the powertrain to be reduced which, in the final analysis, helped shorten the 296 GTB’s wheelbase.
The electric motor charges the high voltage battery, turns on the ICE, supplies it with additional torque and power (up to 167 cv) and allows the car to be driven in all-electric eDrive mode. The MGU-K’s improved design allows it to reach maximum torque of 315 Nm, around 20% more than previous applications.
The TMA (Transition Manager Actuator) allows very rapid static and dynamic transitions from electric to hybrid/ICE mode and vice-versa, thereby guaranteeing smooth, progressive torque.
Its control software, which was developed entirely in-house by Ferrari, communicates with the DCT, motor and inverter software to more efficiently manage ICE ignition and its connection and disconnection to the transmission.
Thanks to new generation components, the TMA allowed the design of an incredibly compact transmission: the system has an overall impact on the length of the powertrain of just 54.3 mm. Its architecture comprises a triple-plate dry clutch, a clutch command module in line with the driveline with a clutch control linkage, and ECUs.
Thanks to an innovative design manufactured using laser welding, the 296 GTB’s high voltage battery has a 7.45 kWh capacity and a competitive weight/power ratio. The battery pack is located under the floor and to minimize volume and weight, the cooling system, structure and fixing points are integrated into a single component.
The cell modules contain 80 cells connected in series. Each Cell Supervisor Controller is installed directly in the modules to reduce volume and weight.
The Ferrari 296 GTB’s inverter is based on two silicon modules connected in parallel, the power deliver mode of which has been optimized to achieve the MGU-K’s torque increase to 315 Nm.
This component converts the electric energy with an extremely high level of efficiency (over 94%) and can supply the power required to start the V6 even when there is maximum demand for electric power.
The 296 GTB’s cockpit was developed around the new concept of an entirely digital interface which Ferrari first debuted on the SF90 Stradale. This interior layout draws on the latter’s stylistic coherence for its forms.
Exclusive Italian leather trim to the seats and trim is further enhanced by the noble technical materials used on the functional components.
Once the capacitive ‘Start Engine’ button is touched, all of the components gradually spring to life and the 296 GTB reveals its technological glory in the form of an exceptionally modern, ergonomic and completely digital interface.
Driving The 296 GTB
From ignition we took to the tarmac in full battery mode and it was just ‘not right’ as we were not hearing the Ferrari ‘soundtrack’. Before the first corner we switched battery mode off and a wide smile appeared on our face. The engine revs without any hesitation and the build-up is as good as a full electric supercar (which means it’s very fast and somewhat scary).
If you are a ‘Sunday Driver’ you will need to understand this acceleration as it will catch you off guard. As we ‘raced’ down the back straight of the circuit, we realized how fast we had reached the hard corner and we got the brakes to bite hard to slow down this beautifully sculptured car.
After the fifth lap, it was clear that this new 1,470kg Ferrari was much more civilized and easy to live with as a daily commuter, which is what we would be doing if we could afford to own one. Its lightweight provides for a more agile and communicative driving feel and the smaller capacity engine is a little more powerful than the previous heavier V12 in the Ferrari Superfast.
This is not a Ferrari for weekends only. It is very well built, beautifully crafted from nose to tail and the cabin build quality and finish is another milestone in supercar luxury.
Ferrari 296 GTB Specifications
Engine: Petrol V6 Hybrid
Power: 830bhp @ 8,000rpm
Torque: 740Nm @ 6,250rpm
Transmission: 8-Speed F1 DCT
Top speed: 330km/h
Price: From RM1,288,000.00 before local taxes