The latest test session for the New Stratos development took place at the Wächtersbach complex in Germany (above), which incorporates a short circuit and handling course, at the beginning of the month.


More information has emerged detailing the extreme depth to the New Lancia Stratos project, revealing that the result is effectively a clean-sheet sportscar rather than any form of ‘rebodied’ Ferrari 430 Scuderia – the connection with the Prancing Horse car being far more evident in the Stratos’ ‘intelligent use’ of Maranello componentry.

By radically shortening the wheelbase, overhang and overall volume of the starting point car and reducing weight significantly, while at the same time changing every single ingredient, the New Stratos is effectively now a new car.  The changes include a complete revision of the entire mechanical package, from the engine (modified), to gearbox (modified), differential (new), suspension (modified), wheels (new), brakes (modified) and exhaust (new), as well as changes to all of the electronics, ECU, ABS, damper settings and more.

The New Stratos project thus takes the development of the ‘one-off’ to a new level, and is simply not comparable to previous projects by Pininfarina, such as the Ferrari P4/5 or Rolls Royce Hyperion. To begin with, it features a dramatic reduction in both the wheelbase and overhangs compared to its donor car. A clean-sheet, money-no-object project, its development has suffered none of the constraints felt by OEM engineers, and is in this respect comparable to the McLaren F1 undertaking of two decades ago. 

Although it uses the proven Ferrari 430 Scuderia as an optimised starting point, the New Stratos however features, in practical terms, an almost new chassis. The project therefore uses the technology of the V8-engined Maranello machine as its basis – an exceptionally solid one, as its offshoot, the F430 GT2, has become one of the defining racing sports cars of its generation.

Despite this, however, the New Stratos is effectively a new development, for along with the significantly shortened wheelbase, it features a new development of roof construction, and is fitted with an integrated (FIA-approved) rollcage and makes extensive use of carbonfibre, which replaces the aluminium sections of the 430 Scuderia. Carefully integrating the bespoke rollcage into the construction of the car means that the New Stratos is able to achieve a level of chassis stiffness unattainable by any of its peer OEM sportscars.

Into the mix comes a welter of new mechanical developments, especially with regard to the new suspension and running gear: new springs, dampers, anti-roll bars, wheels, tyres, brakes and exhaust all feature, with effectively the entire original setup being discarded. The ensuing changes have resulted in a new car with handling and performance characteristics completely differentiated from those of the 430 Scuderia.

In the area of electronics, there have been a string of fresh developments with regard to the ECU and all the electronic systems found in the Scuderia, including the racing ABS. Moreover, although the New Stratos will also make full use of Ferrari's famous steering wheel-mounted ‘Manettino’ switch, the functions have been altered in respect to those usually found in the 430 Scuderia.

The car also features a new differential construction which is comparable to that used by the current breed of WRC machines, further emphasising the new project’s adherence to the rally-bred principles of the iconic 1970s special stage star. A new radiator and cooling system also feature as part of the all-round changes.

However, even in this context, one of the most ambitious parameters of the project was the technical brief, which said that no other street-legal sports car should be able to accelerate faster to 200km/h, drive around corners quicker, or brake over a shorter comparable distance than the New Stratos, including all supercars currently on sale. Thus, the New Stratos aims to pick up the baton of high-performance benchmark sportscars like the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Porsche 997 GT3 RS and even the bar-raising Bugatti Veyron 16.4, and simply drive a coach-and-horse through their limits, redefining their goals. Despite this, maximising top speed is not a priority of the New Stratos project, with the project team instead giving highest priority to optimising the handling, and making the New Stratos the fastest vehicle possible on a twisty road or track.

The New Stratos continues to undergo an intensive 24/7 test and development programme. The images and video clips released so far still do not represent the final set-up of the car that will be officially unveiled on November 30th at the Paul Ricard race track in France. Specifically, the exhaust note and the dive/pitch angle of the car in the static and video footage should not be taken as reflective of the final product, as the settings are changing on a near-daily basis. It is understood the exhaust note will live up to what the exterior design promises, and that the New Stratos will sound every bit the successor to the legendary Stratos Group 4 rally car.

ItaliaspeedTV: New Lancia Stratos test session at Wächtersbach, Germany

© 2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed