You might need to come up with a few new expletives to properly express what the 296 feels like behind the wheel. “Christ on a cracker” was mine. With more ponies on tap than Dodge Challenger Redeye and with a curb weight of around 3,600 pounds—literally one 800-pound gorilla, Dodge said—it would be easy to expect the 296 GTS to be virtually unmanageable, at least deadly. But Ferrari engineers are the automotive equivalent of Nidovelira’s gnomes; they create weapons that don’t just defy physics, but turn people into gods just by touching them.

To go to the full power of Thor, click coin dial on the steering wheel that controls the intelligent stability control systems to turn off Race or CT, dial dcoin responsible for the powertrain settings to qualify and press the right paddle to engage the manual gearshift. The first move frees up enough slack in the computer’s control to provide enough slip for play, but not enough to spoil the party; second gear uncorks the powertrain’s full power, and third gear makes you fully immersed in the experience. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is smart enough to select itself, but unless you’re going for a lap, it’s a lot more fun to use the giant carbon fiber paddles to shift gears yourself.

The gas floor, and the power hits like a miracle. There’s little to no slip or spin, no sense of the car struggling to control all that energy; it just goes faster than common sense thinks. It’s hard to believe that any car can put down that much power so well with two wheels on street tires. It’s definitely the same thought I had after driving the Ferrari 812 and F8, but it’s still terrifying every time.

The combination of the electric motor, twin turbos, and 8,500-rpm redline gives this drivetrain a feel unlike most; almost instant response at almost any engine speed, with acceleration that just keeps getting bigger and bigger as the revs rise and the power keeps coming. Off-road performance is as insane as you’d expect – Ferrari’s claimed 0-62mph time of 2.9 seconds seems very achievable – but it’s even more surprising to drop the ‘box down a gear or two and then hit the throttle at speed where you can discover the full compliance of the power system and enjoy the note of the V6 engine – in a way confirming the Piccolo V12 moniker with its scream.

And when the turns come, the fun continues. The short-ratio steering rack is built for narrow, winding roads; you will almost never need to move your hands for better grip because you can do almost every incline with the 9 and 3 gloves. There is a lot of feedback and information through the steering wheel which is good because given the speed it can carry through any twists and turns in the road, you want to know as much as possible—and react quickly when needed.

Push the corner too hard, though, and the result is surprisingly mild oversteer – a bit of counterlock brings it back into line and makes you giggle at the concept of catching a slide in a rear-wheel drive car that approaches the power of the first Bugatti Veyron. There may be faster cars on the track, but there aren’t many cars that can top the 296 on the street—and even fewer that will feel as involved in the process. It’s a drug, pure and simple—one that you want before you use it, and even more so after.