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Kill the King: Ferrari 296 GTB v McLaren 750S

1 month ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


10 April 2024

Did it not always used to be Ferrari versus Lamborghini? Was it not those unforgettable comparison tests written in Car magazine through the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s by the likes of Mel Nichols, Gavin Green and Steve Cropley – two already Ti stalwarts, an open invitation to the third – that got us fired up about supercars in the first place? Boxer versus Countach, 308 GTB versus Urraco, 512 TR versus Diablo and so on? At least for me, it was.

Today Ferrari still provides the benchmark. It’s a strange thing, but whenever one of these tests takes place, we always think of the other car as the one ‘being put up against the Ferrari’. It is Ferrari’s opponent that always starts in the role of pretender, the one with it all to prove, and whatever the outcome of the next few thousand words, I don’t think they’ll do much to change that. What is different is that the young upstart trying to depose the king now has a different name: McLaren. If you really want to find out if a Ferrari still has what it takes and is more than just a legendary badge sat atop a delectable skin, it is to Woking, not Sant’Agata, that you must now turn.

And I really do need to know how good the 296 GTB is, because quite recently I was brave/stupid/reckless – delete as appropriate – enough to describe it as ‘the greatest Ferrari of the modern era’ on this very site. But I’ve been waiting for McLaren to come up with a car that might depose it. Ignore those lazy hacks who have concluded the Artura is its closest rival because they share conceptually similar 120-degree 3-litre V6 twin-turbo plug-in hybrid powertrains – the Ferrari is in a different league in power, performance and, most of all, price – and look instead toward the new 750S.

Yes, the McLaren produces its power a very different way – through a conventional 4-litre, twin-turbo V8 – but ignore for now how they got there and consider instead the result: two cars whose 0-62mph times are separated by 0.1sec, and which are separated by no more even at 124mph; cars with top speeds a single mile per hour apart and prices within two grand of each other. You’ll pay more for a nose-lifter on either.

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