When you are designing a 1,480-horsepower car that can top 250 mph, cooling and aerodynamics become very important factors. That was the task Bugatti director of design Achim Anscheidt faced when drawing up the Bugatti Chiron, and he came to the same conclusion.
"The main elements that you see on this car, from the rear, from the side, and the front, are based on form following performance," Anscheidt said in an interview at the Geneva Motor Show.
The increases to horsepower, torque, and top speed, and the resulting aerodynamic requirements meant the designers had to work with the engineers to make this car possible. "The limits were so high that we realized we can only achieve this with a win-win collaboration of design and engineering. And that set up a system that gave me a chance to solve technical issues to better the performance," Anscheidt said.
Strong lines, quiet details
The Chiron is defined by just a few lines, including the strong C shape along the sides, the cut off and open rear end, the low nose with the signature horsecollar grille, and the long, low line on top of the car from nose to tail. "Make the elements that you justify technically very strong--the C shape, the rear end, the front architecture--and that should be the first and primary read. Everything else goes into the background," Anscheidt said. "The stronger those lines are and the more justified they are, the more the other elements and the other surfaces can be quiet, can be really nice and clean."
Anscheidt feels this type of design gives a car longevity. He compares it to Bauhaus buildings in Berlin. Almost a century after they were built they aren't contemporary, but they are beautiful and they represent their era. Longevity is important to Bugatti because this is the type of car that a buyer can pass down to the kids or grandkids.
The side view
That C shape dominates the side of the car, and while it has historic ties, it is really about function. "It looks like a romantic sideline and you can identify it with the signature of Ettore Bugatti or the Type 41 or even the signature of Louis Chiron. But the real reason for that line is a performance function," Anscheidt said.
He further explained that the C is one large intake that the car's massive W-16 engine needs. The air that travels along the body side is relatively turbulent and it arrives with about 60 percent efficiency in the lower portion of the C's massive air intake area. The air that runs along the greenhouse arrives with 85-90 percent efficiency at the top of the C's intake.
Aside from the large C shape, the fenders have no other character lines. Anscheidt says it was a challenge to go from the "beautiful, beautiful Veyron fender, and find a new interpretation that is equally generous and equally organic, but different."
The rear view
The rear end has a cutaway look, which Anscheidt says is nothing new for a supercar. However, aerodynamics and cooling play a large role here. "The soft pressure zone is extremely strong behind the car, and that allows all the hot air to get sucked out and that's why all the ducts are in there. Otherwise, the power increase of 25 percent would not be possible to handle," Anscheidt explained.
The thin LED taillight doesn't have much aerodynamic function other than staying extremely slim so that as much heat as possible can escape from the engine compartment. However, it plays a big role in the look of the car. Anscheidt wanted a very clear new signature rear view for Bugatti, and that became a single line that he calls "reduced magic."
The rear spoiler plays a big role in aerodynamics. Bugatti made it an active, full-width spoiler for best performance. At rest, it is completely tucked away so as not to disrupt the car's lines. However, it comes up at 50 mph and raises to various levels. It mainly acts as an airbrake, tilting up to 90 degrees. "If you've ever had a chance to come down from 400 kph [248 mph] to 0 as fast as you can, you realize how important an airbrake is for Bugatti," Anscheidt said.
The rear end is more efficient than the Veyron's, meaning the Chiron is capable of achieving higher top speeds. Right now, Bugatti says the top speed is limited to 261 mph, but the company is not saying how fast the Chiron or a version of it can ultimately go.