We've already driven the Ferrari 296 GTB and, well, it's spectacular. Or is it mega? Is that better than spectacular? Actually, it's mega spectacular. In coupe form it's insanely fast in a straight line with huge amounts of grip and superb brakes. To be honest it's so forceful along every axis that it should come with a G-suit to prevent it mixing up your internal organs like a tumble dryer. And yet despite all this it's not merely a number-generating device. It's still approachable and good fun to drive on road or track. Now, in the least surprising bit of news since the latest inefficiencies at the DVLA, the convertible version has been revealed.
Officially, it's called the Ferrari 296 GTS. Essentially, it's the GTB with or without the centre section of the roof depending on the weather and your mood. It's a ridged hard top or RHT that's split in to two sections. These sit flush with the engine cover when down and retain a window onto the 2.9-litre motor below. Because it's a metal roof it 'guarantees exceptional occupant comfort' when it's up and 'with the roof stowed it features a sleek, sporty design.' It takes 14 seconds to operate in either direction, which you can do while driving at up to 28mph.
When the roof is down cockpit turbulence is managed by trims behind the headrests that channel the air towards the tonneau cover to reduce buffeting in the cabin. There's also a height-adjustable glass rear screen above the rear bulkhead that keeps the interior relaxed even at higher speeds.
The RHT is described as 'lightweight' but, of course, it adds mass: we're talking 70kg on top of the GTB's dry weight. This means the GTS tip the scales at 1,540kg - although, according to the blurb, this has no noticeable effect on the GTS's straight-line performance. With exactly the same plug-in hybrid system as the GTB - comprising a 120-degree twin-turbo V6 and electric motor producing a combined output of 830hp - it will still hit 0-62mph in 2.9sec and max out at 205mph.
Matching the Berlinetta's top speed has involved some aero work to minimise the disruption to airflow around the car. This centres on managing the wake from the rear deck, which mimics the form of the GTB's, and profiling the flying buttresses to match the coupe's aerodynamic and thermals efficiencies. The GTS also has the same downforce-generating active rear spoiler as its hardtop sibling that, together with the front tea-tray splitter and underbody diffuser, maintain the same peak downforce as the GTB.
Modern-era Ferrari convertibles haven't been wobbleboards because they're designed from the outset alongside the fixed-roof version. Naturally, there are always areas that need to be beefed up to add stiffness back in. In the GTS's case it meant strengthening the A-pillars, B-pillars and sills. The result is a bending stiffness eight per cent higher than the F8 Spider's with a 50 per cent increase in torsional rigidity.
In most other respects, the GTS is the same as the GTB. For example, the interior offers the same appointments, including the various screens, not least a dedicated TFT for the passenger. The Asseto Fiorano pack is available to GTS customers as well, which features lightweight dampers, more carbon fibre and track-focused Michelin Cup 2 R tyres instead of Cup 4s. The only difference is there's no availability of a Lexan rear screen. As a result, the package brings a weight reduction of 8kg instead of the potential 15kg sliced from the GTB's weight, but still delivers the same 10kg of additional downforce.
The price? Well, there's no official statement on that yet. However, the 296 GTB is £241,560, and bearing in mind the usual algorithm sees Ferrari spiders priced at £25,000-£30,000 more, expect the 296 GTS to be in the region of £270,000.
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