Loris Bicocchi’s first major assignment was to help develop the chassis for the Lamborghini Countach, but he went on to tune the dynamics of other great supercars, including the Pagani Zonda, Bugatti Veyron and Koenigsegg CCX. For the Stradale, he co-developed the suspension tune alongside former racing driver Marco Apicella. Apparently Apicella, the younger man, favoured a more uncompromising track set-up, but Bicocchi tempered that approach.
Whatever the truth, the chassis is exceptional in its ability to absorb the road beneath it while communicating its intentions. Our test car’s dampers were in the middle of Dallara’s three presets, and while ride quality could be uncomfortably squared-off at low speeds, once up and running the feeling is always of millimetre-precise wheel control with body movements so beautifully cushioned they make you laugh involuntarily.
The suspension clatter often experienced in carbonfibre-tubbed lightweights is also conspicuous by its absence, the Stradale operating with an elegance and flow that entirely justifies its price.
The unassisted steering also deserves special mention. Whether it possesses quite the same extraordinary level of feel you’ll find in a Lotus Exige is debatable, but on public roads it proves all but impervious to deflection and supremely delicate. Add in a fixed-ratio rack that faithfully ingrains the considerable ebb and flow of suspension loadings into your palms and there are few cars so intuitive to thread fast along British roads.
That said, on the road you only get glimpses of the Stradale’s ultimate handling capability. Once there is temperature in our test car’s optional Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres, the grip on offer is nothing short of phenomenal. The weight distribution feels ever so slightly rear-biased, but in the main the Stradale exhibits mid-engined neutrality in the purest sense.
Catch the rubber while it’s cool, however, and you’ll find a car that indulges in the merest slither of understeer before the rear axle gently breaks away with rare poise, right about your hips. The Stradale feels as though it has just graduated from an eye-wateringly expensive finishing school for handling – which, of course, it has.
To get the best from the car on track, drop the chassis to its lowest setting (20mm or so below standard, at the push of a button) and disable the ESP, which is lenient but hinders progress exiting fast bends, when downforce gives all the security needed.