Hot on the heels of the Malaysian debut of its hardtop sister, the Ferrari 296 GTS convertible has now also been introduced to adoring Malaysians here last week, at the Sepang International Circuit. It has just been a short three months since the new car’s global premiere, and this launch event also sees the Ferrari 296 GTS making its much anticipated Southeast Asian regional debut in all its splendour!
Ferrari has reintroduced the iconic GTS – Gran Turismo Spider – nomenclature for this addition to the 296 range, sharing all of the key hybrid powertrain and chassis components debuted by the equally new 295 GTB berlinetta (‘little saloon’).
But the 296 GTS coupe isn’t quite a full open-top convertible in the style of Ferrari’s previous mid-engine cars, as only the main roof section is removed to create a targa-style opening. When the roof is closed, the 296 GTS looks almost identical to the GTB, which is no bad thing given the standard car’s sleek and sophisticated design that draws on heritage models like the 250 LM with a contemporary edge.
Incidentally, the stowage requirements of the GTS’s roof, with a new rear tonneau cover replacing the dramatic clear composite unit found on the coupe for one with a smaller window looking into the engine bay, means that the beautiful see-through engine cover from the 295 GTB had to be shrunk down to just a tiny window now. Ferrari says that the roof takes 14 seconds to retract or deploy, and can be operated at speeds of up to 45 km/h.
Overall the changes are very subtle, and at the same time very well integrated. The technical package mimics the GTB, too, with a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 that’s augmented by a single electric motor sandwiched between it and an eight-speed dual clutch transmission. Peak combined power is rated at 818bhp at 6000rpm, with 740 Nm peaking at a sky-high 6250rpm. The combined power of both internal combustion and electric power units is then driven through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that, unlike the SF90, has a physical reverse gear.
In terms of the chassis, the usual compromises associated with open-top supercars will likely apply less here, with the 296’s aluminium structure likely to require only small levels of extra strengthening on the underbody due in part to the relatively small roof opening and the structural aero-bridge that ties the rear section of the car together.
Thus, the GTS weighs just 70kg more than the 1470kg GTB at 1540kg, but it is worth remembering these are dry weights when specified with all the lightest possible options, likely making the GTS closer to 1650kg with all its fluids on board.
The Ferrari 296 GTS is described as the “latest evolution of Maranello’s mid-rear-engine two-seater berlinetta spider”, and goes on sale here in Malaysia, courtesy of distributors Naza Italia, starting at a price of RM1,448,000 before duties, taxes, insurance, and any customisable options.