The Ferrari 296 GTS, the most recent evolution of Maranello’s mid-rear-engined two-seater berlinetta spider, debuted in mid-April 2022 with the goal of redefining the entire concept of fun behind the wheel, ensuring pure emotions not only when pushing the car to its limits, but also in everyday driving situations.
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The Ferrari 296 GTS at a glance
The new 663 hp 120° V6, which debuted on the 296 GTB, is combined with an electric motor capable of providing an additional 122 kW (167 hp) in the 296 GTS.
This is the first 6-cylinder engine to be mounted on a Prancing Horse road-going spider; it releases its class-leading 830 hp total power output to give previously unfathomable performance levels and an inventive, exciting, and distinctive symphony, which can be enjoyed with the top down.
To emphasize this revolutionary engine’s epoch-changing significance to Maranello, the car’s name combines its total displacement (2992 l) and the number of cylinders with the GTS (Gran Turismo Spider) abbreviation in great Ferrari tradition. It is not only the 296 GTS’s live, throbbing heart, but it also ushers in a new V6 era with profound roots in Ferrari’s unparalleled 75-year heritage.
The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology on the 296 GTS ensures that it is a very useable vehicle, with zero pedal reaction times and a 25-kilometer range in all-electric eDrive mode. Because of the car’s small size and the addition of novel dynamic control technologies as well as finely refined aero, the driver will be blown away by its incredible agility and responsiveness to orders.
Its sporty, flowing shape and incredibly small proportions visually emphasize its distinctive and contemporary forms, while also evoking the 1963 250 LM, which was the ultimate mix of simplicity and practicality.
The RHT (retractable hardtop) ensures maximum passenger comfort. It has a sleek, athletic look with the roof stowed, and it has a shape that is quite similar to the Ferrari 296 GTB with the top up. At speeds of up to 45 km/h, the lightweight RHT retracts or deploys in only 14 seconds.
Real excitement under the hood
The powertrain assembly comprises the turbocharged V6 that feeds power to the rear wheels via 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 an inverter that powers the electric motor.
The design of the combustion engine not only allows for optimal combustion but also allows for component integration: the intake plenums and engine supports are both incorporated on the intake sides of the cylinder heads.
As a result of the removal of the plenums and extra supports, the engine is lighter and more compact, while the internal fluid dynamics benefit from the reduced capacity, increasing intake efficiency. The turbos could be installed centrally thanks to the 120° vee architecture, which provides more space between the cylinder banks than a 90° vee.
This reduced the overall size of the unit and the distance air had to travel to reach the combustion chamber, maximizing the fluid dynamics and efficiency of the intake and exhaust line ducts.
The V6 engine rewrites the rules in terms of sound by merging two features that are generally diametrically opposed: the power of the turbos and the harmony of a naturally-aspirated V12’s high-frequency notes. Even at low rpm, the soundscape inside the cabin boasts true V12 orders of harmonics, which ensure the usual high-frequency treble at higher revs.
This is the first Ferrari spider with a rear-wheel-drive-only PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) design, in which the ICE is merged with a rear-mounted electric motor delivering up to 122 kW (167 hp), adapted from the Formula 1 application, from which it also gets the MGU-K nomenclature.
The Transition Manager Actuator (TMA) connects the electric motor and the ICE, allowing them to work together to create a total power output of 830 hp or decoupling them to enable the electric motor to operate alone.
The MGU-K is a single-stator axial flux motor with twin rotors. Because of its small size and construction, the powertrain’s length was lowered, allowing the 296 GTS’ wheelbase to be shortened in the end. The electric motor charges the high-voltage battery switches on the ICE, feeds it with extra torque and power (up to 167 hp), and enables the vehicle to be driven entirely on electricity in eDrive mode.
The upgraded design of the MGU-K enables it to attain a maximum torque of 315 Nm, which is almost 20% greater than earlier uses.
The art of vehicle dynamics
The dynamic development of the 296 GTS was focused on improving the car’s pure performance, delivering class-leading levels of driver engagement by utilizing new architectural solutions (V6, hybrid powertrain, shorter wheelbase), and improving usability and accessibility, not only of the car’s performance but also of the hybrid layout’s functionalities.
The goals were met by fine-tuning the design and making all of the major vehicle components as small as feasible, as well as regulating energy flows and integrating them with the vehicle’s dynamic controls. Specific components, such as the Transition Manager Actuator (TMA) and the 6-way Chassis Dynamic Sensor (6w-CDS) — a global first in the automobile industry – were also created.
There are also new features like the ABS EVO controller, which utilizes data from the 6w-CDS, and grip estimate combined with the EPS.
When driving the 296 GTS, it’s also important to consider how accessible and useable the performance is: for example, in electric-only eDrive mode, the vehicle can achieve speeds of up to 135 km/h without using the ICE. In Hybrid mode, on the other hand, the internal combustion engine (ICE) assists the electric motor when more power is necessary.
To ensure smooth, consistent acceleration and to make the powertrain’s power accessible as quickly as possible, the transition between electric and hybrid driving modes is handled extremely efficiently. The ABS EVO and its connection with the 6w-CDS sensor have greatly reduced stopping lengths in the dry, while also ensuring more constant braking force under repeated severe braking.
The wheelbase of the new Ferrari mid-rear-engined berlinetta is 50 mm shorter than previous Ferrari mid-rear-engined berlinettas, which benefits the car’s dynamic agility. The brake-by-wire system, ‘Aero’ brake calipers, electronic power steering, the rear active aero device, and SCM-Frs magnetorheological dampers are among the other features that improve the car’s handling and performance.
In contrast to prior spider uses, the chassis of the Ferrari 296 GTB was modified and optimized for the 296 GTS to enhance torsional rigidity and bending stiffness. In the case of the former, this was accomplished to the tune of 50%, whereas in the case of the latter, it was achieved to the tune of 8%. The A-pillar, B-pillar, and sills were the primary sections affected.
A power management selector (eManettino) has been added to the 296 GTS in addition to the regular Manettino. From the steering wheel, the eManettino may be set to one of four positions:
- eDrive: the internal combustion engine is turned off, and the rear wheels are driven entirely by electricity; with a completely charged battery, the vehicle can go 25 kilometers at a maximum speed of 135 kilometers per hour.
- Hybrid (H): this is the default mode when the car is started. The power flows are handled for optimal efficiency, and the internal combustion engine’s involvement is defined by the control logic. The car’s greatest power and performance are developed when the engine is turned on.
- Performance: The ICE is constantly active and assists in maintaining battery efficiency so that full power is available at all times. For press-on driving, this is the best setting.
- Qualify: gives maximum performance at the expense of battery recharging time.
Exterior design and top aerodynamics capabilities
With various bold and inventive ideas, the 296 GTS breaks into the mid-engined berlinetta sports car lineup. With the turbo fitted in a hot-V configuration above the vee of the crankcase, all of the heat-generating components are now grouped in the top center portion of the engine bay, allowing for more effective heat management of both the engine bay and the electrical components.
Aero options have thrown the active aero paradigm, established with the 458 Speciale forward, on its head, highlighting this significant divergence from the past. An active device is employed on the 296 GTS to create more downforce rather than to regulate drag.
The 296 GTS can create a high amount of rear downforce when needed thanks to the LaFerrari-inspired active spoiler incorporated into the rear bumper: the equivalent of 360 kg at 250 km/h in the high-downforce version with the Assetto Fiorano package.
The 296 GTS emphasizes the 296 GTB’s elegant, refined looks even further. When the top is down, it is the pinnacle of the open-air hybrid idea in all its glory. Its first-of-its-kind architecture for a spider, in fact, ushers in a new era in the marque’s history. The designers’ objective of preserving the 296 GTB’s principal attributes necessitated a period of rigorous research of the technical components’ size.
Of course, there was a strong emphasis on minimizing the effect of any changes to the outside bodywork, as well as presenting a distinct, immediately recognizable motif that would embody the design’s intricacy while converting it into finished linear shapes.
The requirement to store the RHT (Retractable Hard Top) within the engine compartment prompted the Ferrari Stylistic Centre’s team, led by Flavio Manzoni, to build a new tonneau cover, the geometries of which have resulted in styling aspects that are considerably different from previous Ferrari spiders.
While the engine bay on the Ferrari 296 GTB is totally horizontal and dominated by two flying buttresses, a tribute to the 250 Le Mans template, the tail on the 296 GTS is wholly unique.
The trademark ‘aero bridge,’ like with the 296 GTB, is a prominent part of the new car’s design. The overall appearance is of a very small cabin that blends in seamlessly with the wings and flanks. Contrasting sculptural extensions that enclose the engine cover screen and combine the new fuel filler and battery charge covers, avoiding architectural disharmony, add to the buttress motif.
The inside is built around a digital interface
The cockpit of the 296 GTS was designed on a novel idea of a fully digital interface. The shapes of this interior arrangement are based on the latter’s aesthetic consistency. While the designers of the SF90 Stradale sought to emphasize the presence of new technology and emphasize a clear break with the past, the aim behind the 296 GTS was to dress that technology to an elegant advantage.
The outcome is a clean, minimalistic connotation characterized by a forceful elegance that precisely complements the external design on an aesthetic level.
The cabin of the 296 GTS takes the idea of the formal purity of functional parts to new heights. When the engine is turned off, the onboard gauges become dark, emphasizing the cabin’s minimalist aesthetic. The fine technological materials used on the functional components complement the exclusive Italian leather trim on the seats and trim.
To prevent buffering and improve comfort in open-top driving, aerodynamic flaps have been incorporated into the rear trim structure.
In terms of materials and color, the sculptural door panel is a seamless extension of the dashboard. A deep lozenge-shaped scoop, a three-dimensional feature, is the style cue on the center medallion. This sort of design gives the whole door panel a light appearance and ties it to the rear trim with a common motif.
The tunnel has a new twist on the traditional gear-shift gate, as well as a compartment for storing the ignition key, complete with the Prancing Horse logo. The tunnel has also been changed, and instead of being open as on the Ferrari 296 GTB, it now has a closed oddments compartment, emphasizing the connection between matting and tunnel even more.
The designers devised unique diapason-style seats for the 296 GTS, with contrasting grooves that match the instrument cluster’s edge strip visually.
The Assetto Fiorano package
The 296 GTS Assetto Fiorano package is available for customers who wish to get the most out of the car’s high power and performance. It is fully uncompromising in terms of maximum performance, due to considerable weight reduction and aero material.
Special GT racing-derived adjustable Multimatic shock absorbers optimized for track use, high downforce carbon-fiber appendages on the front bumper that can deliver an additional 10 kg of downforce, a Lexan® rear screen, and more extensive use of lightweight materials such as carbon-fiber for both cabin and exterior are among the highlights.
The 296 Assetto Fiorano package entails a lot more than just swapping out parts. Some components, such as the door panel, necessitated a reworking of the fundamental structure, resulting in an overall weight reduction of 8 kg. Finally, owners who choose the Assetto Fiorano package will be able to purchase a distinctive livery inspired by the 250 Le Mans.
Its design extends from the front wings to embrace and define the center grille’s borders. This stylistic piece runs lengthways up to the RHT, tonneau cover, and then down to the rear spoiler, producing a hammer motif. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2R high-performance tires, which are ideally suited to track usage due to their grip, are offered only with the Assetto Fiorano package.