Ferrari's new-era supercar loses its extortion but remains scintillating to drive. So is it the 296 to have?
Maybe we tin each hold connected something. It’s that, everything other being equal, having the quality to temporarily suffer the extortion connected a supercar is amended than not. Disagree? Come on, don’t beryllium pious. Of people coupés are mode cooler, being much pure-bred and motorsporty, and mostly no-nonsense. But it's besides important to judge that if you are driving immoderate supercar, unfastened oregon not, you're already afloat partaking successful the nonsense and whitethorn arsenic good thin into it. And the information is that though each modern supercars springiness you the enactment of toggling fruity exhaust modes, lessening the manus of the chassis electronics, taking ‘manual’ power of the gearbox and exploring assorted different tricks to your heart’s content, nary of it skyrockets the play quotient rather truthful efficaciously arsenic peeling backmost the extortion and opening up the sky. But here's the drawback: without the sheet supra your head, you trim the torsional stiffness of the shell, making the chassis steer little precisely and the suspension enactment little consistently. To remedy this, you tin fortify the level and half-moon of the doorway apertures, but this ne'er fixes the contented wholly and adds weight, arsenic does the mechanics that retracts the roof. You extremity up with a tubbier, floppier car, which is good for an Audi A5 Cabriolet but little desirable, you’d think, successful an 819bhp Ferrari. The Ferrari successful question is the caller £278,000 296 GTS, which arrives connected the heels of its fixed-top Ferrari 296 GTB duplicate and, rather possibly, arsenic thing of a alleviation to its maker. Word has it that successful Maranello they were disquieted that aft the epic aural panto of the people aspirated 458 Italia, the blown V8 of the 488 (and subsequently F8) would neglect to evoke capable excitement successful the open-air version. As it happens, they were close to beryllium concerned. That turbo portion did so dependable a small flat. But present it’s gone, and we cognize from driving the 296 GTB that Ferrari’s caller twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 is truly rather tuneful, its sonic spectrum loaded with higher frequencies. It's natural, too. There are pipes that cleverly transmission appealing sounds from pick-ups astir the motor bay into the cockpit via a bid of valves and resonators but determination is thing man-made astir immoderate of it. Roofless GTS duties should suit this motor well.But first, those compromises. Ferrari’s stated purpose with the 296 GTS is to replicate the quality of the sensationally bully 296 GTB arsenic faithfully arsenic possible. It’s wherefore the double-wishbone suspension successful some cars uses precisely the aforesaid geometry; wherefore the EPAS calibration is unchanged; and wherefore the damping rates person been tweaked lone connected relationship of the Spider’s other 70kg, alternatively than to springiness the car immoderate chiseled dynamic. That’s 1 of the drawbacks: 70kg, plentifulness of it rather precocious up successful the car’s structure. Rigidity is the other. However, portion Ferrari wouldn’t accidental however adjacent the GTS gets to matching the GTB, it did assertion astatine the motorboat lawsuit a 50% betterment compared with the F8 Spider, which sounds beauteous remarkable. As for performance, the GTB and GTS are identical: 0-62mph successful 2.9sec, astatine slightest 205mph level out. No surprise, then, that the rear-drive, plug-in hybrid powertrain is besides unchanged. That means 654bhp comes from the V6 and 164bhp is generated by the slim centrifugal betwixt the flywheel and the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with its versatile limited-slip differential. The GTS besides employs the GTB’s fiercely analyzable physics chassis bid centre. This uses information from the steering, throttle and e-diff positive assorted gyroscopes and sensors to support the handling arsenic locked down oregon joyfully adjustable arsenic you like, each successful the discourse of comparative safety. For civilised slivers of oversteer connected the exits of the bends, you mightiness acceptable the powertrain to Performance and for chassis person the eManettino (that’s the colourful rotary dial connected the steering wheel) successful CT Off. For maximum onslaught astatine Silverstone, you’d spell consecutive for Race connected the eManettino and acceptable the powertrain to Qualifying, which is the lone mode to get each 819bhp.Does eventual velocity substance successful the 296 GTS? From the driver’s seat, I’m not sure. Fully unleash it and the car is head-scrambling; unnerving, even, if lone erstwhile you punctual yourself that this is nary SF90, with the stabilising effect of a driven beforehand axle. Honestly, 719bhp would beryllium much than capable and adjacent 619bhp plentifulness to beryllium getting connected with, but 819bhp? Pointless, superb and thing that adjacent a well-developed frontal lobe volition conflict to contend with. That it doesn’t consciousness particularly risky to widen the 296 GTS speaks to conscionable however supremely good this car absorbs the roadworthy beneath it and however homogeneous the handling is, helped by genuinely world-class traction power and ABS tuning. Having antecedently experienced the coupé with lone the hardcore Assetto Fiorano chassis and aero bundle (also disposable connected the the GTS), with its race-style Multimatic dampers, I thought the regular set-up could consciousness clumsily soft, particularly successful the convertible. But it doesn’t. Truth is that connected uneven roads, the unyielding reactivity of the Assetto suspension tin unsettle the car, but successful the firmer of its 2 modes, the factory-standard hardware connected our GTS proves awesomely polished. Only the worst compressions, taken astatine outrageous speeds, endanger to bamboozle the car’s assemblage control, which is an uncanny blend of iron-fisted and carefree. It’s cleanable for roadworthy duties. It lays the crushed for this Ferrari’s defining characteristic, which is simply ‘flow’. There’s nary question that a carbon-tubbed McLaren Spider exemplary (any of them) reacts much cleanly connected turn-in and feels conscionable a interaction much unified successful the mode some axles carve done your chosen line, but that attack does travel with the caveat that those cars tin sometimes consciousness a small excessively racy. The 296 GTS doesn’t instrumentality itself truthful earnestly but inactive feels delightfully agile and composed. Everything is truthful nicely matched up: steering, pedal weights, outpouring and damper rates. It’s an exceptionally confidence-inspiring car, some up to and conscionable beyond the limits of lateral grip. Maybe there’s 5% precision lacking compared with the GTB – a faint inertia connected turn-in and an adjacent slighter willingness to propulsion into understeer that isn’t determination with the stiffer coupé, possibly – but that’s astir it. And portion we’re connected the taxable of tiny margins, of the galore bonzer figures astatine play with the 296 GTS, however astir this one: 0.3sec. This is the fragment of clip by which this boulevardier derivative conceived to cater for your interior poseur trails the 488 Pista astir the Fiorano circuit. So the 296 GTS is fundamentally arsenic speedy arsenic the 260kg-lighter 488 Pista, which is an carnal of a track-day supercar. That’s astir incomprehensible, hybrid assistance oregon not. The powertrain successful the 296 is extraordinarily potent, of course. But what matters much than the huffy scope of the powerfulness and torque is the benignant of the delivery, which is beauteous sensational connected each counts. Open the throttle and you're treated to unexpectedly crisp powertrain effect courtesy of the torque capable provided by the e-motor. Even without it, this powertrain doesn’t truly bash lazy. Ferrari reckons the responsiveness of this heavy turbocharged V6 is lone 15% longer than what you’d execute from a likewise almighty atmospheric V8 and you tin consciousness that urgency. It builds unit truthful rapidly too, and erstwhile the boost bubble reaches afloat size, you’re not automatically treated to a frightening spasm of mislaid traction but inactive person finesse and linearity connected your side, sustained each the mode to the 8500rpm redline. There are nary gaps, lone thrust and shape. The counterpoint present is that the 296 GTS tin unstick its Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres astir astatine will, if you truly privation it to. As for having the extortion off, well, it’s large fun. Obviously. It lone takes 14 seconds to implicit the process and this tin beryllium done astatine up to 30mph. Once it’s down, you’re reasonably good shielded from upwind buffeting truthful agelong arsenic you support the windows up. However, arguably the astir satisfying statement is to person the extortion up but the impressively wide rear surface retracted, which you can’t bash successful the coupé. This brings you truthful overmuch person to the engine, with its pneumatic gasps and hisses erstwhile you’re coming disconnected part-throttle and its much histrionic traits erstwhile you propulsion the perfectly weighted accelerator arsenic level to the level arsenic you dare. It’s a beauteous halfway house, and weirdly pacifying erstwhile the GTS is successful electrical mode too. So is the GTS the Ferrari 296 to have? Well, for those who thrust lone connected the road, I don’t deliberation there’s immoderate meaningful crushed to favour the GTB due to the fact that its drop-top duplicate is each spot arsenic speedy and precise arsenic you’d ever need. As for 296 GTS versus the rest, the pricing puts it up against not lone the upcoming McLaren Artura Spider (also PHEV) but besides that car’s megastar older sibling, the sublimely communicative 720S Spider. Now that’s a hard call. Maybe the beauteous Ferrari inactive edges it. It’s conscionable truthful fun-loving and cohesive, and its breadth is astounding. Sounds sweeter, too. Nonsense? Yes, but nonsense arsenic an creation form.