Ferrari 296 GTB Assetto Fiorano review: Right on track

Leow Ju Len
Ferrari 296 GTB Assetto Fiorano on the track

The Ferrari 296 GTB may be a modern marvel, but the S$133,500 Assetto Fiorano options pack allows you to add lightness

SEVILLE, SPAIN — Every Ferrari watcher knows the drill by now: if you quite fancy the latest and greatest from Maranello but want it with a bit of extra spice, tick the Assetto Fiorano box.

An options pack named for Ferrari’s home test track, it adds no extra horsepower but comes with worthwhile mods in service of quicker laptimes.

Applied to the 296 GTB, it brings titanium springs with race-derived, passive dampers from Multimatic, carbon ceramic brakes and a carbonfibre lip spoiler that adds 10kg of downforce.

To shave 12kg off the car itself, the rear engine cover is polycarbonate instead of glass and the cabin is full of carbonfibre — not just in place of other materials, mind you, but sometimes involving redesigned pieces altogether.

If you’re especially hardcore you can have the upright rear screen in polycarbonate, too, and slice another 3kg off. Then there’s the option of bespoke Michelin Pilot Cup 2R shoes, in place of the Pilot Sport 4S rubbers worn by the regular car.

Naturally, there’s no missing the special livery and its hammerhead pattern, inspired by the paintwork on some of the Ferraris that raced at Le Mans in 1968. Without it, how would your friends be able to tell what a trackday hero you are?

Ferrari 296 GTB Assetto Fiorano in yellow

I have no idea what the Assetto Fiorano pack feels like on the road, but boy does it seem to bring out the best in an already fine car on the circuit. Damp, cool conditions at the Monteblanco circuit in southern Spain led Ferrari to put the 296 GTB on the Pilot 4S tyres, but that was fine by me, since the Cup 2Rs apparently let go suddenly if you cross the limit.

Now, track sessions usually expose a car’s weaknesses more than its strengths, but every section Monteblanco seemed to play straight into the Ferrari’s hands.

On long, fast full-throttle corners the 296 is a beautifully planted car, putting power down with massive traction, enough for the engine and motor to really let fly.

It sheds speed like a demon for the slow stuff, too, on what feels like fade-free brakes. Some of that is down to a brake-by-wire system that Ferrari calls ABS Evo; the feel and modulation of the braking is artificially generated, so the pedal’s travel and firmness stays remarkably consistent lap after lap.

Out on the mountain passes I’d wished for more feel and a greater sense of heft at the steering wheel, but on the track I realised that I simply hadn’t been putting enough weight over the front wheels. When you’re properly heavy on the anchors, however, the Ferrari turns in with a fabulous sense of whether you have grip to spare. The point is not that the car has limitless bite at the front end, but that you can feel what the nose is doing, and make little adjustments in plenty of time.

If anything opens the eyes wide, it’s when you experience the full force of Qualifying mode, and the 830 horsepower it unlocks. Holy smoking tyres, but the 296 GTB feels fast. It not only hits hard but does so tirelessly, the acceleration intensifying insanely as the revs climb and the electric motor reinforces the attack. 

After a bit of thought, though, I reckon it’s how the rear of the 296 GTB behaves that feels most distinctive. It’ll come gently unstuck if you back off a bit too much through a fast corner, but it glues itself back to the road if you feed the power back in.

Conversely, it does step out if you’re hard on the accelerator out of a hairpin, but gathering it back up involves just a flick on the steering. Lots of cars turn in rapidly, even fiendishly, but the Ferrari’s tail end feels uniquely controllable. 

The thought of grappling with 830hp in a rear-wheel drive car on a damp track actually gave me a bit of pause. For one thing, the 296 GTB’s wheelbase is 50mm shorter than the F8 Tributo’s, which, in my imagination, would have made it scary and snappy. Yet, on the track this is a car that feels like its mass is beautifully centralised, so it rotates freely when turned in anger, yet is both imperiously stable and adjustable.

The vast majority of cars feel much better on the road than they do on the track, but the 296 GTB is a prized exception. Whether to spring for the Assetto Fiorano pack is a matter of how often and how enthusiastically you do track days, of course. But even if you don’t, the 296 GTB’s loveliness on the circuit will make you want to start.

Ferrari 296 GTB Assetto Fiorano

Drivetrain typePlug-in hybrid petrol-electric
Engine2,992cc, V6, turbocharged
Power663hp at 8,000rpm
Torque740Nm at 6,250rpm
Gearbox8-speed automatic
Electric Motor167hp, 315Nm
Battery Type / CapacityLithium ion / 7.45kWh
Charging Time / Type1.5 hours (estimated) / AC 11.4kW
Electric Range25km
System Power830hp, 900Nm
Top Speed>330km/h
0-100km/h2.9 seconds
Fuel EfficiencyTBA 
Price$1,373,500 without COE
AgentItal Auto Pte Ltd

READ MORE: The latest on CarBuyer


2 seat 2-door 296 GTB assetto fiorano Coupe Ferrari Hybrid

About the Author

Leow Ju Len

CarBuyer Singapore's original originator, Ju-Len in person is exactly how he is on the written word and behind the wheel. Meaning that he darts all over the place and just when you thought he's lost the plot, you realise that it's just you not keeping up with his incredible rate of speed and thought.

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