Jeremy Clarkson 296 GTB review

Jeremy Clarkson's review of the Ferrari 296 GTB hybrid is in — here's what he reckons

This is no Prius

Like every other car maker on the planet, Ferrari has started embracing electrification. There was the LaFerrari hypercar with F1-derived HY-KERS hybrid tech, and then the SF90 Stradale plug-in hybrid. In 2025 we’ll get the company’s first pure-electric vehicle and by 2030, four out of every Ferrari sold will be hybrid or fully-electric.

Fortunately for petrolhead Jeremy Clarkson, whose hatred of family-focused hybrids such as the Toyota Prius is well documented, Maranello’s first efforts at electrification have been altogether different kinds of machines, with performance rather than fuel economy to the fore.

And as we know from his review of the McLaren P1 for The Sunday Times (and one of his TV programmes, probably), if a hybrid system can be used to induce “’Oh my God’, sweaty-pawed, heart-racing, wide-eyed, hair-on-end, ball-shrinking terror” then he’s not entirely against the idea.

So what of the Ferrari 296 GTB — the Prancing Horse’s first true production plug-in hybrid, and a car that and The Sunday Times voted Dream Car of the Year in our recent Motor Awards 2022? Well, Clarkson’s verdict for the Sunday Times appeared at the weekend, and it’s a mixed bag of opinions.

In powertrain terms, things are looking good. Equipped with a 3-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor, it produces an enormous 819bhp, all of which is fed to the rear wheels. There’s also a small rechargeable battery, giving you an official electric range of around 15 miles – although Jeremy reckons that figure drops to around 10 in the real world – and allowing short journeys to be completed without burning a drop of unleaded.

That might come in useful when petrol power is banned from town centres, Clarkson reckons, but those “eerie” silent journeys will have to be short. When the electricity runs out or the on-board computers decide the car is going too fast, the petrol engine steps in.

But it doesn’t simply step in, he says; it barges in with the subtlety of a volcanic eruption.

“In a normal hybrid, with a normal, quiet engine, you don’t really know what’s driving you at any given moment. But in the Ferrari you really do. There should be a light on the dash giving those with weak hearts a warning that, in a few moments, Vesuvius is going to blow up.”

Once the V6 has taken charge the 296 GTB can unleash its full might, and there’s certainly plenty of that. Getting from 0-62mph takes less than three seconds and the top speed is 205mph.

Clarkson claims that he doesn’t usually like “cars that produce more than 700 horsepower because they make no sense on the road,” but “this one delivers its power so smoothly and so righteously it makes you grin, not soil yourself.”

It’s not much like a McLaren P1, then.

He also heaped praise on the V6 sound (the 296 makes a noise like a “sad wolf”) and the handling. According to Clarkson, there’s no suggestion the car weighs around 1.5 tons and the steering is so brilliant he can’t understand why other car makers haven’t copied it.

The Clarkson’s Farm star even complimented the Ferrari on the quality of its ride, saying “it glides around like it’s running on linear air tracks” on fast roads, although country lanes make it feel a bit “hectic.” In short, Clarkson says the 296 GTB “felt like a Ferrari, and that’s the highest praise you can lavish on a car.”

But he also approved of the grown-up stuff. The seats, he says, are as “comfortable as being dead,” while the boot is more than big enough for its frame, and easy to climb into and out of.

2022 Ferrari 296 GTB

He did have some criticisms, of course. His “main issue” was with the controls, including the touch-sensitive switchgear on the steering wheel.

“I had to stop and reach for my spectacles because the steering wheel was festooned with many buttons, most of which seemingly did nothing,” he complained. “I know it’s important for Ferrari to give drivers an F1 experience but they’re too complicated.”

He also found fault with the appearance of his test car, which he said caused him to “burst out laughing.” Ferrari’s press demonstrator was finished in the classic red paint but it also came with “a massive blue stripe on the roof and bonnet. The rear valance was blue and so were the wheels, but the rest of the car was red. It looked absolutely ridiculous.”

After deciding to simply tell people the car belonged to his Grand Tour co-presenter, James May, Clarkson then turned his attention to the price, which stands at a not-inconsiderable £241,560, something he described as “steep.”

However, with options including the “hideous stripe” (£14,400) fitted to his test car, the total price came to just under £360,000 – almost twice the price of a basic McLaren Artura.

Despite all that, Jeremy’s four-star review described the 296 GTB as a “tremendous car to look at and drive.” He also praised the engineers’ efforts to hide the “hybrid madness”.

But Clarkson said there was a significant caveat: because the hybrid power is really there as a result of government policymakers, he said, “Ferrari didn’t build [the 296 GTB] to be the best it could be — but built it to be the best current political thinking says it can be.”

You can read Jeremy Clarkson's full review of the Ferrari 296 GTB at

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