Bugatti's heritage-inspired Centodieci is related to the Chiron, but it's different enough to require its own set of validation tests. After taking on the Nürburgring, the limited-edition hypercar was put through its paces in the scorching heat of the American Southwest's deserts.
"Testing in the hot, dry desert is a huge help for us in the development process," explained Stefan Schmidt, an engineer in Bugatti's overall vehicle development department. "Every model has to run flawlessly in all weather and in all traffic conditions," he added.
With no less than 27 engineers in tow, the Bugatti team started the hot-weather test in California and meandered east for about 500 miles until it reached Arizona, where temperatures sometimes climb to over 120 degrees. The convoy included eight cars: a Centodieci prototype, three examples of the Chiron Pur Sport, and four examples of the Chiron Super Sport. Each one was fitted with approximately 200 sensors that record various parameters that get sent to the engineers traveling with the convoy and to the development team in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Heat takes a toll on cars in normal driving conditions, but Bugatti went the extra mile to torture its prototypes. It subjected them to low-speed stop-and-go traffic, it reached nearly 200 mph (on a closed track, of course), and it left them sitting in the sun with the air conditioning on. The aim is to see how different components (ranging from the fuel delivery system to the materials used to build the cabin) hold up to extreme heat. The data gathered during the tests was compared to the numbers obtained through simulations to identify areas of concern.
Taking the Centodieci to the American desert was important; it's notably fitted with an additional air intake near the oil cooler.
"The Centodieci's newly-developed bodywork, airflow changes, and its engine bay cover manufactured from glass mean the temperature behavior is quite different, especially in such extreme heat conditions," said André Kullig, the manager of few-off projects at Bugatti.
The firm notes that the Centodieci passed the hot-weather tests with flying colors. It has one final hurdle to clear before it enters production: nearly 20,000 miles of high-speed and endurance testing in Europe. When that's over and everything checks out, the project will be signed off and production of the 10 examples planned will begin in Molsheim, France. Deliveries should start in 2022, and the model is sold out.
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