Photo credit: Ferrari

Photo credit: Ferrari

Ferrari unveiled a new model, the 296 GTB, the automaker’s new mid-rear-engined berlinetta sports car.

The 296 GTB uses a new V6/plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of delivering up to a whopping 818 hp. The plug-in hybrid system “maximizes usability and driving pleasure,” Ferrari said.

Ferrari calls its newest car “the latest evolution of Maranello’s mid-rear-engined two-seat berlinetta.” The car was shown today (June 24) in an online event broadcast on Ferrari’s social media and web channels.

The car’s name combines its total displacement (2,992 cc), number of cylinders and GTB, for Gran Turismo Berlinetta. It is 2 inches shorter overall and the same height as the SF90. Ferrari says it is the “most compact berlinetta” it has built in the last 10 years.

“The 296 GTB redefines the whole concept of fun behind the wheel, guaranteeing pure emotions not just when pushing the car to its limits, but also in day-to-day driving situations,” Ferrari said. The new car’s 653-hp V6 combines with a 165-hp electric motor, and it’s the first 6-cylinder engine installed in a road car sporting the Prancing Horse. The 653 hp also sets a horsepower-per-liter record (217.97 hp) for any production-car engine according to Ferrari. The Italian automaker’s previous sixes were in race cars such as the 1957 Dino 156 F2 single-seater, the 1958 196 S and 296 S, and Formula 1 cars such as the 246 F1.

The 296 GTB does not replace any car in the Ferrari lineup. The new model can go 15 miles on EV power and can hit 83 mph in electric-only eDrive mode. In hybrid mode the internal-combustion engine backs up the electric motor when higher performance is required, and the automaker says the transition between electric and hybrid driving modes “is managed fluidly for smooth, constant acceleration,” and to make the powertrain’s oomph available as quickly as possible. The new car weighs 3,240 pounds. It can hit 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, 130 mph in 7.3 seconds, and has a 205-mph top speed.

In fact, the Maranello wizards consider the transition between electric and hybrid modes “fundamental to the sports car characteristics.” That’s why a power management selector called eManettino has been adopted alongside the traditional manettino. The eManettino has four positions: eDrive, where the internal combustion engine is off and there is pure electric drive to the rear wheels; hybrid, the default mode on ignition wherein the power flows are managed for maximum efficiency; performance, where the ICE is always on and helping maintain the battery efficiency to ensure full power at all times; and lastly qualify, the max performance setting.

Enzo Ferrari used to say that the engine is the soul of any Ferrari. The new, compact aluminum V6 in the 296 GTB was developed specifically for this car and has the turbochargers located inside the V. The engine is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch trans and E-Diff. A clutch is set between the engine and the electric motor to decouple them in electric-only eDrive mode. A 7.45-Kwh high-voltage battery and inverter power control the electric motors.

The Transition Manager Actuator (TMA), developed in-house for this car, allows quick transitions from electric to hybrid/ICE mode and vice-versa for smooth, progressive torque. It communicates with the transmission, motor, and inverter software, the idea being to efficiently manage the engine’s ignition and its connection and disconnection to the transmission. Ferrari said that thanks to new-generation components, the TMA allowed the design of an incredibly compact transmission, adding just 2 inches to the length of the powertrain.

“The 120-degree vee architecture, which offers more space between the cylinder banks than a 90 degree vee, meant the turbos could be installed centrally, thus significantly reducing the unit’s overall size and the distance the air has to cover to arrive in the combustion chamber, maximizing the permeability and efficiency of the intake and exhaust line ducts,” Ferrari said. “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.”

Ferrari said the engine benefits from its latest combustion chamber development introduced on the SF90 Stradale: A central injector and spark plug with 350-bar pressure injection system improves the fuel-air mix in the chamber and thus performance. It also reduces emissions. Ferrari redesigned the intake and exhaust ducts to maximize volumetric efficiency.

Further, the turbochargers have been redesigned and use higher-performance alloys, and now these babies can spin to 180,000 rpm, improving performance and boosting efficiency, up 24 percent, according to the company.

“The symmetrical, counter-rotating turbos are of the mono-scroll type,” the company explained. “The technical solutions adopted have reduced the compressor wheel diameter 5 percent and the turbo rotor 11 percent compared to the V8 applications, despite the very high specific power. The reduction in the rotating masses reduced the spool up time ensuring instantaneous power delivery.

“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,” Ferrari said.

We shall see.

Ferrari sweated many details in designing the 296 GTB, saying the car’s “impeccably clean, simple architecture seems the work of a single pencil stroke.” The company says designers used the 1963 250 LM for inspiration.

Ferrari also claims to have come up with several “radical and innovative” aerodynamic solutions. For example, the 296 GTB is the first Ferrari to use an active rear spoiler to generate downforce instead of to manage drag. The active rear spoiler is integrated into the bumper design. When maximum downforce is not required, the spoiler is stowed in a compartment in the upper section of the tail and is deployed when needed at higher speeds.

“The LaFerrari-inspired active spoiler integrated into the rear bumper allows the 296 GTB to generate a high level of rear downforce when required: the equivalent of a maximum of 793 pounds at 155 mph in High Downforce configuration with the Assetto Fiorano package [more on that in a minute],” Ferrari said. “This impressive performance was achieved by seamlessly optimizing the car’s volumes. The result is a car with an extremely clean, elegant design in which all the performance-oriented elements meld effortlessly with the styling, underscoring the inextricable marriage of technology and aesthetics that is the signature of all Ferraris.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Photo credit: Hearst Owned

“The aero development work done on the 296 GTB means that even in low-drag configuration the car can deliver more downforce than previous applications,” Ferrari said. “In high-downforce configuration, there is an additional 220 pounds of downforce thanks to the active spoiler.”

Two radiators installed ahead of the front wheels cool the engine and gearbox. Additionally, two condensers for battery cooling are also mounted up front. The hot air is evacuated along the underbody so it doesn’t interfere with the cooling air to the intercoolers along the upper part of the flanks. The hybrid system’s radiators have two vents just below the spoiler’s side sections, freeing up the center of the car’s nose to generate downforce.

The signature aero element up front is what Ferrari calls the “tea tray.” It is integrated into the front bumper and uses a concept from single-seat racecars.

“The bumper’s rear surface works in synergy with the tea tray’s upper surface to create a high overpressure field, counteracting the underbody’s depression field,” Ferrari explained. “The two different pressure regions remain separate as far as the edges of the tea tray. But at those points, the two fields of opposing pressure come together and the air flow rolls back on itself creating an extremely coherent and energized vortex that is directed below the underbody. The vortex movement of the air translates into a localized acceleration of the flow that produces a high level of suction and greater downforce over the front axle.”

The interior was developed around what the company calls an entirely digital interface that debuted on the SF90 Stradale with the tach and speedometer directly in front of the driver, and ancillary info on either side.

Ferrari is offering a performance package called Assetto Fiorano, which reduces weight and further enhances aerodynamics. The package also includes adjustable Multimatic shocks, carbon-fiber appendages on the front bumper that deliver an additional 22 pounds of downforce, a Lexan rear screen, and lightweight materials such as carbon fiber for both cabin and exterior.

Ferrari is also offering a special livery inspired by the 250 Le Mans with the Assetto Fiorano package as well as Michelin Sport Cup2R high performance tires for the track.

The car goes on sale in Q1 2022 starting at $321,000.

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