Ferrari 296 GTS Review: Mad, Menacing & A Beautiful Convertible

We spend a day in the glitz and heat of Dubai, driving a Ferrari convertible with a V6 engine and two turbochargers sandwiched between the cylinder banks. The ‘wind-in-your-hair’ experience gets a whole new meaning.

By Kingshuk Dutta


9 mins read


Published on August 7, 2023

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  • We drive the Ferrari 296 GTS in Dubai
  • Along with the 296 GTB, it is the first road-going Ferrari to have a V6 engine
  • It does the 0-100 kmph in 2.9 seconds & has a top-speed of 330 kmph

It was one of those moments, where you almost lose your sense of objectivity, you find it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. With my fingers and palms wrapped tightly around the carbon-fibre steering wheel, I couldn’t help but laugh and giggle as my hair went all over the place and my ears were treated to an aural symphony, courtesy of the throbbing V6 motor behind me. Yes, I was trying my hardest to not flex my right foot and just leave the traffic in my rear-view mirror. After all, the traffic fines in Dubai are outrageously expensive!

The colour scheme on the Ferrari 296 GTS is inspired by the 250 LM and can be specified with the ‘Assetto Fiorano’ package


And the reason for my childlike happiness was the Ferrari 296 GTS. A low-slung, compact and a sharp-looking sportscar, which would have fitted in easily at the grandest of settings and in any movie with a hair-raising car chase sequence. But before I myself became the subject of a chase, with the Dubai Police, I took a deep breath in and slowly lifted my right foot off the throttle and settled into a nice cruise, much to my chagrin. 


Driving the Ferrari 296 GTS

Driving the Ferrari 296 GTS is an event, a sensory experience unlike any other


It is an event! An experience, unlike any other you would have while driving a car. The Ferrari 296 GTS isn’t the latest from Maranello, but it is special! In fact, it is the first road-going Ferrari with a V6 engine. Most of them are usually howling V8s or bellowing V12s. But if you thought that the V6 motor is any less of a beast or downsizing has led to a decrease in performance or giggles, you would be dead wrong. 


The car gets a stonker of a V6, with two turbos sandwiched between the cylinder banks. Of the 819 horses that the car generates, 164 bhp comes from an electric motor and the rest of them come from the 120 degree V6.


A total of 740 Nm comes in at 6,250 rpm and that means the GTS pulls like a freight train! 0-100 kmph done in a scant 2.9 seconds and 0-200 kmph done in a mind-boggling 7.6 seconds! I made the delightful mistake of mashing down on the throttle on an absolutely empty, deserted stretch of road in the desert! And I was rewarded with my head thrown back into the seat viciously, threatening to snap my neck like a twig! It threw me off! Yes, I understand that it is a Ferrari, and it is a sportscar! But still, the way the 296 GTS responds to aggressive throttle inputs is something that beggars belief!

The 296 GTS does the 0-100 kmph sprint from standstill in a gut-churning 2.9 seconds. and has a top speed of 330 kmph. 


And then, there is the manic boom of the V6, designed to sound like a V12. It is true, in fact, the boffins at Maranello, call this engine the ‘piccolo V12’, or the baby V12. Put the retractable hard-top down and start driving. A low, primal growl fills the air you breathe as you accelerate and work the 8-speed gearbox. It is almost as if the V12 gods blessed this engine with all the aural divinity that they could muster. 

The tyres offer exceptional grip and the Multimatic suspension, courtesy of the Assetto Fiorano pack, makes the GTS a potent handling machine. 


I mean if you tell someone uninitiated in the ways of Ferrari, that this is in fact a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and can run for 25 kilometres on pure electric power, they will straightaway laugh at your face! The 8-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is lightning fast and it puts all of the 819 bhp, every last bit, on to the rear wheels. Which is where the fat 305 section rear tyres come into play, to put all of that ungodly power on the tarmac, and then knock your senses into oblivion. 


Ferrari uses something called the transition manager actuator or TMA. What this little device does is optimise the exchange of energy between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor thanks to a proprietary software. 

The red lever can be used to select the driving mode on the car. On the left you can also see the sensor-initiated start-stop button, right on the steering wheel. It may not feel Ferrari-like but it does feel special. 


In typical Ferrari fashion, the steering is super precise and direct. I mean it perfectly latches on to your thoughts and the inputs are precisely relayed to the front wheels. And the turn-ins are so perfect that it is difficult to believe how nicely, how strongly, the car holds on to the line that you have chosen. I mean it is just incredible. The taut chassis adds a few skills to your driving that you never knew existed. 

A high mounted exhaust makes for great aural experience


The 296 GTS also gets Ferrari’s brake-by-wire technology, that allows you to brake late into corners, keeps the car as stable as possible and also optimises the grip available on each tyre and at all times. The other important electrical wizardry on the 296 GTS is the 6-way chassis dynamic sensor, which basically collects data from the steering, brakes, wheels and the gearbox to enhance your driving experience. 

Excessive use of carbon fibre comes standard with the Assetto Fiorano package. And it is 100 per cent worth the extra money


Now, our test car came with the ‘Assetto Fiorano’ package, which means it had race-derived Multimatic suspension for better handling and loads and loads of carbon fibre usage. The front and rear bumper get carbon fibre diffusers and enhanced aerodynamics. The cabin gets carbon-fibre seats other lightweight bits, reducing the weight of the car by 8 kg. 

Everywhere you cast a glance, you see gleaming heaps of carbon fibre. Easily the most carbon fibre rich car I have ever driven!


Ferrari has thrown the kitchen sink of aerodynamics at the 296 GTS. There are air ducts right next to the headlights, which cool the carbon-ceramic brakes. On the rear haunches, the big air ducts feed air into the two turbos and then there is active aero spoiler, which is rather neatly integrated into the rear section. The wing at the rear is capable of generating downforce of up to 360 kg at speeds of 250 kmph and above. 


Ferrari 296 GTS Design


Now, that I have had my fill of driving the Ferrari 296 GTS, lets take a pause and well, marvel at the beauty that we have here. It is a low-slung, compact, very sharp looking sportscar, with immaculate attention-to-detail. It doesn’t have the edgy design of, say a Lambo, but is classical. It is a beautiful looking sportscar, with clean, neat lines, so flowing that even when standstill, the car looks in motion. 

Even in a glitzy, car-crazy city like Dubai, the 296 GTS dropped jaws wherever it went. People definitely gave it a second glance


I mean it is difficult to imagine that something so achingly beautiful can be so mind-bendingly violent! No matter whichever angle you look at it from, you get a sense that the car is the perfect blend of form and function. 

I mean just look at the lines! So beautiful, so graceful, so svelte and so exquisite


Talking about the retractable hard-top, it can be deployed in just 14 seconds and at speed of up to 50 kmph. And yes, it does add about 70 kg of weight over its fixed roof sibling, the 296 GTB. The added weight also includes carbon fibre reinforcements to the underbody.   


Ferrari 296 GTS Cabin & Features

Sporty, minimal cabin! Lots of carbon fibre used. Even the seats are carbon fibre.


Everything inside the cabin oozes premium-ness, sportiness and sheer quality. I mean, there are a lot of buttons, and everything is centred towards the driver. Everything is within your grasp. And in the beginning, it may feel overwhelming but the more you drive the car, the better it is, the more you get used to it. 

The view from the cockpit is as sporty as it can get, in a Ferrari


And lastly, in fact, if you talk about the ergonomics, this is a sport car, super low and you will have to stretch and contort yourself if you want to get in and out of the car but once you are fully seated in this, I mean the car just takes over and lets you sink into a trance. 

The passenger gets a small screen for various controls


There is no infotainment screen in the centre, on the dashboard, but the passenger does get a small one for navigation, audio playback and other controls. The overall user interface could have been a little better, but all of that is secondary! The primary focus is of course on driving experience. Features like Apple CarPlay and a reversing camera are all optional extras.  


Ferrari 296 GTS Verdict 


For a car that costs upwards of Rs. 6 crore, the GTS could have had more features, at least a reversing camera. For more customisation options, you can go to the Ferrari Atelier, the company’s personalisation programme, where you can choose from various custom bits for the upholstery, alloy wheels, features, seats and so on. In terms of rivals, the 296 GTS would go up against the Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder RWD and the McLaren Artura. Both are more affordable and make lesser power and torque too. Both get more features too, but the Ferrari, I suspect, still has the potential to stand out, with its manic yet accessible power and outrageous performance.

The Ferrari 296 GTS is otherworldly. It is beautiful, sophisticated and at the same time, a savage, ferocious speed demon that can scare you silly, if you flex your right foot wrong.


I mean the kind of driving delight it offers, and the kind of electronic and tech wizardry it packs in, it is every bit as special as a Ferrari ought to. Even by lofty standards that the boffins at Maranello set upon themselves, the 296 GTS is a mad, menacing and still a beautiful piece of machinery! 


Photography: The Cornea Impression & Kingshuk Dutta


Last Updated on August 7, 2023

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