Strip away the Stradale’s carbonfibre body and you’ll find aluminium subframes mounted to a lightweight central carbonfibre monocoque. Suspension is by double wishbones controlled via coilover struts, with the dampers adjustable for compression at both low and high speeds as well as for rebound. In terms of architecture, the overall approach is not dissimilar to that of those mainstream supercars whose makers are experienced in motorsport. McLaren springs to mind.

The Stradale, however, is much lighter on its tyres than even the trimmest Woking missile. At 855kg without fluids, it weighs less than the Lotus 3-Eleven, which is pertinent because a young Gian Paolo Dallara idolised Colin Chapman chiefly on the basis of the Brit’s ‘simplify, then add lightness’ mantra. With so little mass there’s no need for power-assisted steering, and the Brembo brakes use cast-iron rather than carbon-ceramic discs.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
Optional fixed wing sits tall with an aggressive angle of attack that contributes to the car’s huge downforce potential. It’s why the ride height is generous at standstill: to accommodate huge aero compression at speed.

Neither did Dallara need to shoehorn a big brute of an engine into the small chassis to achieve the desired power-to-weight ratio. The car’s mid-mounted four-cylinder is the relatively compact 2.3-litre ‘Cleveland’ motor built by Ford and recently used in the Focus RS.

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Fettled by Bosch Engineering, it’s now switchable between outputs of 295bhp and 395bhp and drives the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox and a mechanical limited-slip differential. A robotised version of the transmission with paddle-operated shifts is also available, albeit for a 40kg penalty. But all these physical elements merely prepare the ground for the Stradale’s central tenet, which is vast downforce. The floor of the car, again made entirely of carbonfibre, is perfectly flat and ends with deep venturi tunnels. In the Stradale’s basic form, Dallara will stall the front diffuser for good aero balance.

With the optional rear wing fitted, the top speed drops from 174mph to 165mph but the wind-tunnel-honed body is able to generate some 820kg of vertical load. The compelling upshot is a car with downforce potential comparable to a McLaren Senna and the power-to-weight ratio of a Porsche GT2 RS but a footprint resembling that of a typical C-segment hatchback.

Beyond hitting aero targets, what freedom there was to style the car was undertaken by Turinese consultancy Granstudio. A dramatic melange of organic curves and hard edges is set against the backdrop of a surprisingly long wheelbase. This car wants nothing for presence, and from some angles takes on the aura of a historical sports prototype racer.

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