However, of equal significance to all that are the dimensions. The 296 GTB’s wheelbase is notably shorter than the F8 Tributo’s. In fact, you have to go right back to the 360 Modena to find a mid-engined Ferrari with axles quite so close together. This feels key to the car’s character: there’s natural, innate verve here, the car seemingly to shrink around you from the get-go. Best of all, and despite its towering performance ability, you can really have honest fun in the 296 GTB on the road.
Perhaps our car’s unusual specification helped in this regard. The Assetto Fiorano pack includes severe Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R tyres, but the 296 GTB before you wears a standard Pilot Sport 4S set. Limits of adhesion therefore lowered and Race selected to allow more chassis freedom, after some stabilising understeer through second- or third-gear corners, the back will squat and smudge its tyres ever so slightly out of line if you chase the throttle early. It will do it benignly, and in this way, it isn’t much unlike the Alpine A110, only with thrice the torque.
There are other excellent aspects of the 296 GTB that, although proasic, will make the car enjoyable to own. For one thing, visibility is superb – not quite McLaren-esque in terms of the view forward, because the scuttle doesn’t cut quite so low, but close. However, the flat engine cover and panoramic breadth of the rear screen make backward visibility class-leading, and the GTB is easy to punt around town, reverse park, and generally manoeuvre in a fashion conducive to steady heart rates.
This contributes to what’s an intimate but in no way claustrophobic cabin and one that, were it not for our overly firm carbonfibre race seats, would be well suited for long drives. And on the subject of touring, the front boot is also more capacious than that of the F8 Tributo. So here’s an 819bhp mid-engined Ferrari that you can drive every day, take on holiday, fire down your favourite B-roads – whatever you like, within reason.
Worried about the PHEV takeover of the supercar class? Don’t be – certainly not on this evidence. The electric element of the 296 GTB’s powertrain only ups its usability and, yes, perhaps even brings net dynamic benefit in the real world.