2023 Ferrari 296 GTS Drops the Top, Keeps the Plug

The cascade of supercars from Ferrari continues unabated, even as it moves to hybrid vehicles on its way to electrification. The company wants 60 percent of its lineup hybridized by the end of this year before introducing its first electric vehicle in 2025.

The plug-in hybrid, retractable hard top convertible 296 GTS (Gran Turismo Spider) debuted on Tuesday, as an extension of its 296 GTB coupe revealed last year. Like the GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta), the GTS comes with a 654-horsepower turbocharged V6, combined with an electric motor adding 165 horsepower for a total of 819 ponies and 545 pound-feet of torque.

That's good for a 0-62 mph time (0-100 km) of 2.9 seconds. It crosses 124 mph in 7.6 seconds on its way to a top speed above 205 mph.

This isn't the first V6 for the company. In addition to the preceding coupe, it used one in the 1957 Dino F2 single-seater, as well as front-engine prototypes like the 196 S and 296 S. Those old race cars didn't use an electric motor or have an all-electric range like the new Ferrari's 15 miles.

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The power flows from the V6 through the electric motor to the rear wheels using an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and an electronic differential. A clutch sits between the engine and motor to decouple them when necessary.

As sound is one of the main sensations in a Ferrari, and any internal combustion engine, the company tuned the V6 "combining two characteristics that are normally diametrically opposed: the force of the turbos and the harmony of the high-frequency notes of a naturally-aspirated V12." In the lower rev ranges drivers will hear what sounds like a deep twelve-cylinder, but at higher revs the 296 GTB will emit the usual Ferrari high-pitched wail, according to the company.

With the turbocharger installed in the hot part of the engine, cooling and aerodynamics were especially important. Two radiators sit ahead of the front wheels, accompanied by two condensers to cool the high-voltage battery. The radiators for the hybrid system get two air vents near the front spoiler, which cleans up the front look.

And clean is necessary for aerodynamics, which Ferrari uses to generate 793 pounds of downforce through an adjustable LaFerrari-inspired rear spoiler. The underbody and front "tea-tray" edge translates to suction under the vehicle. Ferrari says that even in "low-drag" configuration the 296 still delivers more downforce than its predecessors.

2023 Ferrari 296 GTS
The 2023 Ferrari 296 GTS features one main driver's screen. Ferrari S.p.A.

The 296 GTB's chassis was redesigned for the 296 GTS, improving torsional rigidity compared to previous convertibles. The GTS is 50 percent more rigid than the GTB, with Ferrari strengthening the A-pillar, B-pillar and sills. It has a dry weight of 3,395 pounds, meaning a curb (wet) weight of about 3,550 pounds. That's about 150 pounds more than the hardtop.

Drive modes start with eDrive, which uses only battery power for that 15 miles. The default Hybrid mode uses both the engine and electric motor. Performance keeps the engine on and the battery charged to ensure full power. Qualify provides maximum performance, draining the battery when necessary.

Inside, the 296 GTS gets a fully digital interface with a giant driver screen, but no real central infotainment touchscreen for a passenger. Ferrari says that they're taking a high-tech approach, but want to cover that technology with sophistication and minimalism.

Italian leather-wrapped seats are enclosed by new door panels that are a continuation of the dash and screens. The accents on the seats also match the lines on the instrument panel. Ferrari also simplified the look of the door panels as well, giving them a lightweight feel.

Ferrari didn't reveal the price yet, but the base 296 GTB comes in at $317,986. The retractable hardtop will cost more before buyers start adding options.