Bugatti Chiron From A to Z

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420km/h. c$4million. The son of Veyron is – should be – outstanding, but while the Chiron is far from ordinary, does it have the shock and awe of its predecessor?

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Put your seatbelt and let’s take a ride on “the Alphabet Highway” checking out the qualities of Veyron’s offspring:

Active aero

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When completely retracted, the rear wing is angled at approximately minus 10 degrees and produces a small amount of lift. When set to Top Speed mode, it moves to a completely flat position to be as aerodynamically neutral as possible.

If the Chiron is in Handling, EB or autobahn mode, the wing is in its aggressive setting but with very precise angles for each mode – in autobahn mode it’s four degrees shallower than in Handling mode, for example. The wing’s most severe angle is under braking, where it rotates to be almost perpendicular to the direction of travel and increases the Chiron’s drag coefficient from 0.40 in Handling mode to 0.59.

There’s also a flap ahead of each of the front wheels that either raises to increase downforce and direct more cool air to the brakes or moves flush with the floor to reduce drag.

Brakes

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The carbon-ceramic brake discs measure 420mm in diameter at the front and use eight-piston titanium calipers developed by AP Racing. At the rear are 400mm discs with six-piston calipers. Every gram of unnecessary weight has been removed.

There are three cooling channels at the front to direct air straight at the brakes. A metal shield behind each disc forces hot air out, mitigating heat soak around the brakes, wheels and tyres.

Corner-weighted

Hydraulic top mounts alter the ride height to optimise aero and weight distribution for each of the Chiron’s driving modes. As ride height changes, so too does the camber and toe for each wheel, with the geometry change accounted for in the suspension design. Every car will need regular corner-weighting to ensure perfect weight distribution, and the Sachs monotube dampers feature a threaded outer body to allow for adjustment.

Development

More than 30 pre-series development Chirons have been built, and between them they’ve covered over 500,000km while using more than 200 sets of tyres.

Over 300 hours have been spent in the wind tunnel, although there’s no wind tunnel with a treadmill floor that can replicate the true effects of the Chiron’s flat underbody and therefore how the car behaves aerodynamically at its top speed. The only way to discover how much downforce is generated at the 420km/h (limited) top speed was to equip the car with special dampers that can measure the difference in pressure created by downforce. The real data was then gathered during an actual high-speed run and integrated within the final numbers.

Bugatti’s dyno was at its limit with the 882kW Veyron Super Sport, so it required considerable upgrades to manage the Chiron’s 1103kW and beyond. The dyno has its own power source so that the Molsheim estate and the nearby village aren’t adversely affected whenever a Chiron is tested.

Perhaps surprisingly, the W16 does not have direct injection, instead using two injectors per cylinder. One sits close to the valve on the intake tract of the cylinder head, the other, located in the plenum chamber, is used at high engine speeds.

Engine

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Perhaps surprisingly, the W16 does not have direct injection, instead using two injectors per cylinder. One sits close to the valve on the intake tract of the cylinder head, the other, located in the plenum chamber, is used at high engine speeds.

Formation

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Every Chiron starts with an engine. Once assembled, it’s moved to one of five construction areas where the carbon rear structure is built around it before the front monocoque is moved into position. Once the suspension, wiring loom and ancillaries are in place, the two carbon structures are united by titanium bolts.

Gearbox

The Chiron uses a dual-clutch gearbox built by Ricardo in the UK. It weighs 120kg, has seven forward gears (plus reverse) and is very similar to the Veyron’s ’box. However, the oil system, clutch and shift forks have all been modified to cope with the Chiron’s exjira torque.

Positioned in front of the engine and between the two seats, the gearbox has a propshaft running to the front axle where there is a Haldex clutch and an open differential. The propshaft to the rear, meanwhile, is offset to the right side of the chassis and passes under the engine to an electronically controlled limited- slip differential on the rear axle.

Honeycomb

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Most of the Chiron is made from carbonfibre. But to make the structure as strong and light as possible, rather than just plain old woven fibres set in a resin, Bugatti creates a carbonfibre sandwich. The body and underbody, for example, are filled with different types of foam resin, and this means that even though the Chiron’s body is a tenth bigger than the Veyron’s, it is no heavier. The monocoque’s floor, meanwhile, employs a technique used in F1, where aluminium is sandwiched between two layers of carbonfibre to form a honeycomb structure. This contributes to the Chiron’s exceptional torsional rigidity – it takes 27,500Nm to twist the body by just one degree, which is a similar rigidity to an LMP1 car.

Interior

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The Chiron’s interior is clean and neat, and there are fifteen cows’ worth of hide in each car. Every button and dial is solid aluminium – even the entire centre of steering wheel has been milled from a single piece of aluminium.

The dash is made from carbon and the weave used in the interior is a special construction designed to keep noise down and prevent resonating.

Jet

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Each Bugatti customer owns, on average, two-and-a-half private jets. But Chiron drivers who sometimes fly commercial will be pleased to find that the luggage compartment in the car’s front end is big enough for an airline-sized carry-on case.

Key

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As with the Veyron, the Chiron has a speed key that needs to be inserted into the car’s sill to engage Top Speed mode.

Louis Chiron

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Louis Chiron’s dream was to win the Monaco Grand Prix, but despite living in Monaco and eventually racing Bugattis, he was far from the moneyed elite that made up most pre-war grids. His father worked at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo and as a young man Louis would earn money by dancing with lonely, wealthy older ladies. Eventually one such lady paid for a Bugatti for him to race and his talent was spotted by Ettore Bugatti, who invited Chiron to drive for the factory team, not realising he was merely the son of a hotel busboy.

Molsheim

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Bugatti’s headquarters at the Château Saint-Jean in Molsheim, Alsace, will be the Chiron’s home, as it was to the Veyron.

Numbers

The Chiron has some big numbers: 1103kW, 1600Nm, 7993cc, 420km/h, 0-200km/h in under 6.5sec, 1995kg, c$4million, 13 litres of a coolant pumped through the engine every second, 32 injectors, 230,266 square metres of active surface area for the catalytic converters.

Options

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Twenty-three standard paint colours with eight tints for the visible carbon will be offered, with multiple two-tone options and two different wheel styles also available. Then there’s the interior… Basically, you can have what you want if you can afford it. How does $101,000 for a bespoke seatbelt colour sound?

Production

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Bugatti built 450 Veyrons; the production run for the Chiron is expected to last eight years and result in 500 cars being built.

Quartet

The Chiron has a quartet of turbos, but unlike those in the Veyron, where two were small and two large, the Chiron’s are equally sized and 69 per cent bigger than the Veyron’s largest. To eliminate lag, exhaust gases from all 16 cylinders feed just two turbos until 3700rpm, after which all four kick-in for maximum torque.

Rear light

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The single, uninterrupted red strip that spans the car’s rear end contains 82 LEDs and acts as the brake light, indicators and reversing light. It’s the metal trim around the light that’s even more astounding, though, as it has been machined from a single piece of aluminium.

Suspension

Double wishbones front and rear with Eibach springs and adaptive Sachs dampers suspend the Chiron. The front and rear anti-roll bars pass through the carbon chassis, so as not to restrict ground clearance; they can also work effectively at different ride-heights. Splines on each end of the main torsion tubes allow the anti-roll bars to be assembled in position. Specify the optional lightweight package and the aluminium anti-roll bars are replaced with carbon versions. They offer the same stiffness as the standard items, but at 1.25kg each, weigh only half as much.

Two rubber compounds are used in each wishbone bush. A stiffer, more elastic compound deals with the rotational forces, while a softer compound handles lateral movement. This combination allows for added comfort without sacrificing precision.

Tyres

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Unsurprisingly, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres aren’t off-the-shelf items. They have been developed specifically for the Chiron to deal with the stresses that a 1103kW, 1600Nm, all-wheel drive, 420km/h-plus car can create.

An aircraft-tyre test rig had to be adapted to test the bespoke compound because no road-tyre rig was capable of simulating the required speeds. Measuring 285/30 R20 at the front and 355/25 R21 at the rear, the Chiron’s tyres are of a conventional imperial diameter, making them more affordable than the Veyron’s metric-sized tyres.

Underbody

The Chiron has an almost completely flat underbody that allows air to pass beneath the car quickly and smoothly It also creates a low-pressure area that sucks the Chiron to the road without generating any additional drag. It isn’t completely flat under there, however. There are strakes that disrupt the air around the front wheels to accelerate the airflow, and then there’s the diffuser, into which two hidden exhaust pipes (additional to those visible at the car’s rear) expel exhaust gases to increase the speed of the air further. Sound familiar? F1 teams in 2013 did the same with ‘blown diffusers’.

VW standards

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Every Chiron has to meet the exact same quality standards as every Volkswagen Group car. This includes crash safety, and will mean more than 10 Chirons will be hurtled at concrete blocks in the name of global vehicle crash testing.

W16

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The dimensions of the W16 block in the Chiron may be identical to those of the one in the Veyron, but the engine is all new. The aluminium block has been optimised so that 800 litres of coolant and 120 litres of oil can flow through it every minute.

Despite the larger turbos and intercoolers, Bugatti wanted the engine’s weight to remain as close as possible to that of the Veyron Super Sport’s W16, so the intake manifold and intake turbo pipes are made from carbonfibre, and the exhaust system and con rods from titanium. As a result of this and other weight-saving measures, the 8.0-litre, 16-cylinder, quad- turbo engine weighs 436kg.

Each Chiron engine takes seven days to assemble and is then tested on a dyno for eight hours before a car is built around it.

X-amine

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As you’d expect, every Chiron is examined in extreme detail before it’s delivered to its owner. An auditor spends six hours looking over the car and should they find anything out of place, the car returns to the atelier to be corrected. After the checks are completed, a member of Bugatti management will inspect the car, and only when he or she is satisfied is it ready for the customer.

Yield

It’s widely known that VW lost money on every Bugatti Veyron built. However, this won’t be the case with its successor, with Bugatti forecasting a profit for the Chiron – or as the company likes to put it, the new car will “make a positive contribution to Group results”.

Zenith

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The Chiron has no hybrid power system, no F1-style KERS, just the most powerful engine Bugatti could build and a relatively simple carbon tub. So while McLaren’s P1, Ferrari’s LaFerrari and Porsche’s 918 Spyder have shown us what is possible with the latest technology, with the new Chiron, Bugatti is demonstrating what’s still possible with traditional methods – if they are taken to the extreme.

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Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 - 2005

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Bugatti Type 57 – 1934

bugatti-type-57-1934

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