2022 Ferrari 296 GTB First Look: 818-HP Hybrid V-6

Don’t cry for the electrified future if it’s going to be filled with efficiently gorgeous 818-horsepower monsters like the 2022 Ferrari 296 GTB. Yes, this is the first official Ferrari-badged road car to employ a V-6 engine, but the brand has raced loads of them. It’s also the first hybridized Ferrari not to electrify the front axle, saving weight and maintaining the dynamic purity of rear-wheel drive.

120-Degree V-6 Hybrid, Just Like the McLaren Artura!

Great powertrain-design engineering minds are likely to arrive at similar conclusions when solving similar problems, and there are indeed many similarities between the 296 GTB and McLaren Artura powertrains. The 120-degree bank angle leaves plenty of room to nestle turbos in the valley of each, and both supercar-makers employ symmetric counter-rotating turbos for optimal exhaust gas flow. Both engines rev to 8,500 rpm and their hybrid motors both employ a compact and torque-dense axial-flux “pancake” design and draw from a battery pack with just under 7.5 kWh. Ferrari says its motor is derived from the motor-generator kinetic unit (MGU-K) in its Formula1 cars. Both brands transmit power to the ground via an eight-speed twin-clutch transaxle, employing a third clutch to decouple the engine from the electric motor and transaxle.

Ferrari versus McLaren: Powertrain Differences

In both cars, the V-6 hybrid powertrain ends up shortening the wheelbase relative to their V-8 amidships brethren, but while the Artura employs ultra-skinny cooling passages and an under-square combustion chamber design (84 mm bore, 90 mm stroke), Ferrari sticks with a wider-bore oversquare design (88-mm bore, 82-mm stroke). Nevertheless, the 296 GTB’s wheelbase measures 2.0 inches shorter than that of its next closest mid-engine V-8 stablemate, while McLaren shortened its wheelbase by just 1.2 inches over its V-8 analogue.

McLaren wins the mass-reduction contest, however, shaving a claimed 110 pounds relative to its V-8, while the Ferrari trims just 66 pounds. Ferrari’s outboard intake manifolds bolt directly to the cylinder heads, to shorten the intake air pathway, reduce the intake runner size for more efficient fluid dynamics, and to reduce time to boost.

Bore and stroke savants may note that the 296 GTB’s figures are a perfect match for those of the Maserati Nettuno V-6. Trust us, that’s about all that 90-degree outboard-turbo, pre-chamber-ignition engine has in common with this one. Oh, and this Ferrari’s name is derived by combining the engine size in liters with the cylinder count (after aggressively rounding 2.992 liters down to 2.9).

The 2.9-Liter Engine Is a Performer

Borrowing the central fuel injector and spark plug location and 5,000-psi injection system from the SF90 optimizes air-fuel mixing in the chamber. New single-scroll IHI turbos feature a 5-percent smaller compressor wheel and an 11-percent smaller turbine rotor that combine to reduce rotational inertia by 11 percent relative to those of the 3.9-liter V-8. Higher performing alloys allow them to rev to 180,000 rpm, boosting efficiency by 24 percent and reducing lag. Myriad details like these add up to what Ferrari claims is the highest specific output for a production car: 219 horsepower/liter, or 654 hp and 546 lb-ft.

Hybrid Power

With two rotors sandwiching a single stator, the 296 GTB’s axial-flux motor cranks out 165 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque, drawing from a 7.45-kWh battery pack. A Transition Manager Actuator (TMA) is responsible for seamlessly transitioning from electric to combustion power and back again. A second power-management eManettino on the steering wheel allows the driver to select between four modes:

  • eDrive (good for up to 15.5 miles of engine-off driving at speeds up to 84 mph)
  • Hybrid (the default mode, which prioritizes efficient driving)
  • Performance (the engine always runs, prioritizing performance and battery charging)
  • Qualify (max performance with reduced battery charging)

Total system power output is rated at 818 hp. Combined torque is not listed, but may not exceed the engine’s 546 lb-ft due to the way they are combined.

Electric Power Steering and Brake by Wire

Fear not, we’ve sampled these systems on the SF90 and had nothing but praise for the way they feel, and here the EPS helps inform the “grip estimator” function within the Side Slip Control system. This system gets a six-way Chassis Dynamic Sensor (6w-CDS) and ABS evo controller, which continually compare the car’s instantaneous lateral grip against steering input to compute the instantaneous grip. The new system is said to improve the time it takes to compute the grip estimation by 35 percent when driving on a track, relative to previous applications. The integration of all these systems is also credited with greatly reduced stopping distances. Relative to the F8 Tributo, 124-0-mph stopping distances are said to be reduced by 8.8 percent, with fade reduced by 24 percent on repeated stops.

Aerodynamics—Roof Wing and Flying Buttresses

The 2022 Ferrari 296 GTB draws considerable inspiration from the 1963 Ferrari 250 LM, especially the way its air intakes are integrated into the rear fenders and its use of a vertical rear window. Aerodynamically, the car relies primarily upon air management beneath the car to develop downforce, which leaves the visible surface mercifully devoid of overt wings and spoilers. A roof-mounted wing connects the two flying buttresses and causes air to behave as though there were a fastback-shaped window in place.

An active spoiler underneath the car and integrated into the rear bumper deploys to increase downforce when required (previous such devices deployed to reduce drag). The car creates a maximum of nearly 800 pounds of downforce at 155 mph with the Assetto Fiorano package (220 of which are attributable to the active spoiler).

The engine, transmission, and battery are cooled by radiators and condensers ahead of the front wheels, with their hot air carried along the undercarriage to ensure nothing but cool air enters the intercoolers via the scoops in the rear fenders. Inlets integrated into the headlamps direct cool air to the front-wheel Aero calipers (brake calipers with a cooling duct integrated in).

The final aero-trick is that “tea-tray” low in the front between the air intakes. It creates a region of high-pressure air that rolls off the edges before flowing under the car and creating vortices that locally accelerate the air, creating downforce at the front axle.

Assetto Fiorano Package

First seen on the SF90, the 296 GTB will also offer this extreme performance package, including Multimatic shocks, high-downforce carbon-fiber chin spoiler with dive planes good for another 22 pounds of downforce, and light-weighting measures—like a Lexan rear window and carbon fiber door panels that combine to shave 33 pounds. Then of course there’s the option of special livery inspired by the 250 Le Mans.

Pricing and On Sale Date

Ferrari is short on specifics, except to caution us from perceiving this car as an entry level offering like the first V-6 almost-Ferrari. European outlets are reporting a 269,000-Euro price which converts to $321,000, with deliveries “in 2022.”

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