Sport Cars

5 minutes with: Ferrari 296 GTB, McLaren Artura and Aston Martin DBX 707

Ferrari 296 GTB

The opportunity to slip into the driver’s seat of a new Ferrari is rare and always appreciated. The last Ferrari I spent a lot of time with was the 488. On this occasion I spent a week with the car in everyday circumstances, driving some of my favorite roads. Today I have a temptingly short amount of time – twice after the pit lane – to get a feel for why the Ferrari 296 GTB is celebrated as one of the great Italian brands, but many already consider it a classic and some even consider it to be a classic A privileged few in Goodwood rushed off the post highway to find out whether they could even afford the money for the 296.

So what about my time with the car? Goodwood is merciless, the car doesn’t belong to me and it has just started to rain. Not ideal circumstances to try to harness the 819hp offered by Ferrari’s 2992cc six-cylinder biturbo engine, with 165hp of the total power coming from an additional electric motor that also allows for a pure electric range of around 25km.

There is a familiar but modern feel to the cabin. It exudes minimalism, especially when the car is turned off and all displays go black. I press the star button and we set the Manettino to Sport so the car comes to life. I slowly exit the pitlane onto the track and circle Madgwick before driving the car straight and getting my first feel for how quickly the Ferrari is accelerating. The main takeaway from a few laps is how light the car feels, how delicious the corner is and how the braking performance in a greasy Goodwood far exceeds my nerves. The only car I can even remotely compare the 296GTB to is the 765LT, and the Ferrari is on a whole different level. I would like to spend 20 laps around Silverstone and really get to know the characteristics of the car, knowing that if I get a spin it won’t be a really expensive day.

McLaren Arthur

We were commissioned to drive the car way back on its original launch date. Things were delayed and McLaren decided to hold back and get the car perfect before its global reveal. While the 296 GTB needs a race track to really let off steam, the Artura feels like a car that’s dying to be steered onto its favorite road. There’s a familiarity that you have with every McLaren, but at the same time it’s clear to see that something has evolved.

Like the Ferrari, the Artura is powered by a 3-liter biturbo engine with an additional electric motor, with a total output of 671 hp. On the track, the Artura feels quick but not overwhelming. The interior feels more elegant and makes you want to plan a European tour that includes some of your favorite streets. There’s obviously a lot of fun to be had on the track, but out of the box it feels like a great road car and I’m sure there will be a few more track-focused models down the line to improve everything for Track days.

Aston Martin DBX707

The 707 is now the company’s most popular model and the order books are full. When the DBX first came out I was lucky enough to drive it across the UK and it certainly impressed, even with its off-road capabilities in the Scottish Highlands. But a DBX on track? It seems like madness. Yes, we see them watching the Formula 1 grid most weekends, but that’s just for marketing, right?

Wrong, my three laps at Goodwood in the DBX707 are surreal. On the one hand I’m enjoying the best view of Chichester Cathedral I’ve ever seen from the circuit, on the other hand I’m driving around the circuit in an SUV, but that’s not the case. I don’t feel like I’m in an SUV, I feel like I’m in a supercar with a crazy ride height. There is no weight gain under hard braking, there is no funny face to make when trying to get the DBX707 around corners, it drives just perfectly, there is no fuss, the speed drops, the speed goes quickly up again and cornering feels as easy as in a sports car. The DBX707 is the biggest surprise of the day. He’s so powerful that I drink myself a cup of tea and try to understand what just happened.

Photo of Jo Harding / inmotionimages

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