There was a point in time when topless supercars were all but a no-no for buyers. Removing the roof of a vehicle brings a desperate need for increased structural engineering and manufacturers in the early 2000s couldn’t or wouldn’t offer vehicles that didn’t flex and contort like an overweight ballet dancer.
Today, the opposite couldn’t be more apparent. Manufacturers up and down the price spectrum are offering equal – or in some cases, better – driving experiences with the roof off. If we can all agree that driving is more enjoyable with the top down, then the question begs “Do we need a roof?” Let’s use the latest Ferrari 296 GTS for argument’s sake.
Ferrari 296 GTS is Defining ‘Fun to Drive’
|Ferrari 296 GTS Engine Specifications|
|Engine||120° V6 coupled with an electric motor.|
|Power||610kW at 8000rpm|
|Torque||740 Nm at 6250rpm|
|Transmission||RWD via. 8-speed DCT and E-Diff|
|Acceleration||0 – 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds|
Supercar manufacturers aren’t doing much to convince us otherwise, because the latest drop-tops from Ferrari and McLaren are some of the quickest and best-looking specimens we’ve laid eyes on in recent times. And fresh off the arrival of the bonkers McLaren 765LT spider hitting Australian shores we have another topless stunner coming our way from the prancing horse – meet the Ferrari 296 GTS.
So, What’s in the Engine Bay
The general architecture in the engine bay resembles that of the 296 GTB that we covered in-depth at release – you can check out that article here – however, in general terms you’re looking at the new 650HP 120° V6 coupled with an electric motor to deliver 830 cv total power (820HP).
Breaking it down into individual components, the turbo-charged V6 feeds power to the rear wheels via the 8-speed DCT and E-Diff, and the kinetic motor generator unit (MGU-K) is 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 7.5kWh lithium-ion battery and an inverter that powers the electric motor.
Other notable engine bay additions include turbos installed inside the ‘V’ of the engine for better response and tighter packaging. And the intake plenums are on the side of the cylinder heads and light thermoplastic material is used to make them which keeps engine weight down.
Intelligent Engine Management
In the case of the 296 GTS, the eManettino has been adopted alongside the traditional Manettino on the steering wheel. As we saw in the 296 GTB the eManettino has four positions that can be selected, including;
- eDrive: ICE is switched off, pure electric drive to the rear wheels meaning 25 km of range and a maximum speed of 135 km/h. Perfect for putting around a quiet village or leaving your neighbourhood in the morning.
- Hybrid (H): The default mode on startup where power flows are managed for maximum efficiency. With the engine on, the car develops its maximum power and performance.
- Performance: In this application, the ICE is always on and helps maintain the battery efficiency to ensure full power at all times. This is the ideal setting for driving quickly in order to maintain a lack of sudden intervention.
- Qualify: Maximum performance at the cost of lower battery recharging.
A New Breed of Spider
As mentioned, everything you’re looking at on the Ferrari 296 GTS is shared with the GTB ‘Berlinetta’ sportscar. There is, however, one giant change in that the ‘S’ stands for spider and that means the inclusion of an RHT (retractable hardtop) for the ultimate top-down experience.
Upon first glance, you’d struggle to tell there’s any difference at all with the roof up between that and the GTB. Before you ask, the lightweight roof takes a mere 14 seconds to retract or deploy at speeds of up to 45km/h. Interestingly, the separation line between the car’s body and the roof is above the B post meaning the folding roof splits into two sections that fold flush over the front of the engine. There’s also a window that gives occupants a glance into the engine bay of the vehicle.
We’re big fans of the way the 296 GTS looks (in red) as it sits, however, the Assetto Fiorano package adds Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2R tires, carbon trim reducing weight by 8kg while adding 10kg of downforce, Multimatic shock absorbers, and an optional livery inspired by the Ferrari 250 Le Mans is there for clients who want to explore the car’s real performance with a spot of track duties.
What’s on the Inside?
Moving to the inside of the Ferrari 296 GTS and you’ll see styling turn up a notch even from that of the SF90 Stradale. That particular car was seen as a clear break from the traditional analog switchgear into a technology-driven cabin with a minimalist look that finds its way into the 296 GTB and GTS.
As soon as you open the door you’re greeted by a sculptural door panel that acts as a seamless continuation of the dashboard with both material and colours. The majority of the interior is lined with fine Italian leather and aerodynamic flaps have been integrated into the rear for reduced buffeting when top-down driving.
The tunnel incorporates a modern take on the classic gear shift gate and includes a handy compartment for stowing the ignition key with its characteristic Prancing Horse badge.
Pricing and Availability
Ferrari is yet to unveil a price for the 296 GTS, however, expect it to ask a significant premium over the 296 GTB price of $568,300 AUD before on-road costs, and that’s not including the Assetto Fiorano package. A seven-year maintenance programme is offered with the 296 GTS, covering all maintenance for 7-years of 120,000km.
Will the price be the only reason we ‘need’ a roof? It sounds like it to us.
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