Health & Fitness

The most complete model Ferrari currently makes is a $700,000 convertible masterpiece

  • Mar 9, 2024
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The most complete model Ferrari currently makes is a $700,000 convertible masterpiece

This article originally appeared on carsales and was republished with permission.

Cutting the roof section out of a perfectly good supercar is traditionally a recipe for dynamic disappointment. Not so with the new Ferrari 296 GTS. Building on the very capable wares of the Ferrari 296 GTB coupe released in 2023, the new GTS arrives in Australia with a mere 70kg weight premium, plus otherworldly power and on-paper performance.

It also charges a $100,000 premium over the GTB coupe for the privilege, but after 500km behind the wheel, it stands up as arguably the best-rounded model ever offered by the Prancing Horse.

How much does the Ferrari 296 GTS cost?

The Ferrari 296 GTS is officially priced at $668,146 before on-road costs in Australia, but with requisite add-ons and on-road costs, even with minimal options you’re looking at about $800,000 in the traffic. 

That’s a circa-$100,000 price premium over the Ferrari 296 GTB Coupe and also aligns quite closely with closest rival – in terms of performance and wow factor — the McLaren 750S Spider which starts around $650K. 

That extra $100K gets you a retractable hard-top which takes a claimed 14 seconds to open/close at up to 45km/h.

At least Aussie-spec 296s are well specified as standard — gone are the days when a reversing camera was found on the options list.

With all that said, you can treat the above prices as a starting point. Ferrari was coy on the as-tested number for our gorgeous Rosso Imola red example. Our estimate is close to seven digits, including a front lift system, trim options, ventilated seats and cosmetic extras.

What Powers The Ferrari 296 GTS?

The drivetrain reflects ‘actual’ million-dollar cars from Maranello. Applying lessons learned from the hybrid hypercar Ferrari SF90, the 296 GTS packs a twin-turbo 3.0-litre 120-degree V6, 122kW/315Nm MGU-K electric motor and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission in an incredibly compact package.

The combined headline numbers are 610kW of power at 8000rpm and 740Nm of torque at 6250rpm. That’s almost 830hp for the less metric inclined.

Ferrari quotes a 0-100km/h time of 2.9sec, 0-200km/h in 7.6sec and a top speed of 330km/h –impressive numbers in any language. 

There’s even the ability to drive on battery alone – albeit in short, slow doses… Ferrari claims a total EV range of 25km (we got 22km) and the power unit can quickly top that up in normal operation. Even in short bursts of dynamic driving, it isn’t uncommon for the four-stage regenerative braking system to recoup eight or nine kilometres worth of electric range.

The 6.4L/100km combined fuel consumption claim is purely academic. It’s a Ferrari after all.

Changing of the guard

The 296 GTS continues the elevation of Ferrari interiors – even against the likes of the 458 Italia and F8 Tributo this feels generations ahead. Better materials and design.

There’s still work to do, however… The 296 GTS bundles all of its infotainment and technology into a digital instrument cluster (doing away with a conventional central touch-screen) controlled by steering-wheel mounted haptic controls. That in itself isn’t the issue – rather the hit and miss, fussy operation of the controls.

The set-up means an interface like Apple CarPlay is rendered virtually useless; we resorted to using voice commands to short-cut the entire process. We also erroneously hung up on countless phone calls trying to press the correct answer button.

Granted, all of this sounds very first-world, but the time wasted on stabbing pads on the steering wheel is time not spent looking properly at the road.

All is forgiven…

Just as well, then, the 2024 Ferrari 296 GTS is transformative to drive.

If you hold a bit of an aversion to downsized engine capacities or electrification, the 296 in both GTS and GTB form is a sign that everything will be OK.

In the most practical terms, the hybrid system helps future-proof the 296 GTS against stricter emissions standards for a few more years yet. However, it also does an impressive rendition of the wailing, theatrical and visceral V12s for which Ferrari is best known.

Hitting the start button initially invokes a sequence of digital sounds to signify the electric portion of the drivetrain is awake. From there, the 296 GTS pulls away from a standstill in relative silence – a very foreign Ferrari concept, but one that is quite practical if you wish to keep onside with neighbours.

But an earnest squeeze of the accelerator or a simple press (or two) of a haptic pad on the steering wheel is all it takes to wake V6 to life, a process that instantly brings pleasing levels of Ferrari theatre.

Electric torque filling and twin turbos make progress through the low to middling revs simply effortless. Meantime, the engine offers enough aural spice to relay the fact you’re in something exotic, especially with window between cabin and engine cover lowered or, better still, the top down.

Get more serious and the 296 delights. In harder use the hybrid V6 delivers huge levels of sound, theatre and character irrespective of its relatively low cylinder count. Ferrari nicknamed this engine the piccolo V12 and it fits the bill perfectly.

The engine is rapid, offering blinding speed out of corners and marrying perfectly with a quick-thinking gearbox and electronics that make for a streamlined supercar experience.

If the hybrid V6 is a surprise, then so too is the driving experience offered by the pure EV part of the equation. Not only does it facilitate covert early getaways, it also gives you a moment to pause and reflect on the giddy excitement you know the powertrain is capable of.

And best of all, the chassis, despite it’s drop-top is up to the task. Ferrari has performed some serious voodoo magic with the 296 GTS, which all but does away with scuttleshake or windscreen vibration.

There’s an ever-so-slight movement through the A-pillar with the hard-top roof stowed over rougher bitumen, but nothing that really affects the performance or refinement of the GTS over mixed surfaces.

At no point bombing into and out of corners – be they tightening radius, wide open, or over blind crests – does the 296 GTS want for more performance or rigidity. It simply hunkers down and does its thing, all while cosseting occupants from excessive buffeting.

The grip level is mesmerising and the front-rear balance always well poised on smooth, fast roads, where all the information you want is accurately telegraphed via the chassis, pedals and steering wheel.

That means you’ll never truly exploit the GTS’ limits on public roads without landing yourself in jail. So, you simply take enjoyment from the precision with which it dispatches every obstacle before it.

The 296 GTS dispels quite a few myths around engine downsizing and electrification, as well as drop-tops imposing huge dynamic compromise. On a sunny day with birds chirping and the smell of nature in your nose, the 296 GTS makes everything seem right with the world.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by menshealthfits.
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