Even the strongest hurricane cannot match the wind to which the Centodieci1 is exposed in the wind tunnel during aerodynamic tests. With up to 300 km / h it wraps around the elegant body until it tears off behind the rear. A 9.300 hp motor drives an eight-meter propeller, creating an intense, permanent draft - enough to make an aircraft take off. Not so with the Bugatti Centodieci. The prototype of the new mini-series hyper sports car from the French manufacturer remains on the ground. Five belts simulate the high speed of up to 300 km / h in parallel. One under each tire, the fifth under the vehicle floor. “We use it to simulate the air currents below the vehicle and in the wheel arches, which enables us to precisely tune the Centodieci,” explains André Kullig, technical project manager for one- and few-off projects at Bugatti.
Bugatti Centodieci in the wind tunnel
In order not to introduce any forces into the vehicle due to the external drive of the wheels, the drive shafts are dismantled especially for the measurement. The vehicle is then only fixed by four small pins in the underbody and the stand height is varied according to the test plan.
Regardless of the number of units, Bugatti coordinates every new model from the ground up, regardless of whether it is a one-off such as the La Voiture Noire or the Centodieci, which is limited to ten units - both with a tailor-made body. “For us as engineers, it makes no difference whether we build one, ten or 500 units of our hyper sports cars. The effort always remains the same, as we have to and want to meet and even exceed all quality and safety standards of a large-scale series, ”explains André Kullig. Because of the flat front with the smaller horseshoe, the wind flows differently around the vehicle than with the Chiron3 or Divo4. In a hyper sports car that drives well over 350 km / h, the aerodynamics and downforce values have to be one hundred percent right. The particular challenge is to achieve the developer's target value calculated beforehand. After the simulation on computers and the first prototype rollout, this includes additional wind tunnel tests before high-speed drives on test tracks.
Elaborate tests for optimal driving behavior
With the prototype in the wind tunnel, developers approach the desired values by making small changes in the non-visible area. The front diffuser flaps can be adjusted to a small angle, the later fixed rear wing also offers adjustment options of a few degrees. "Even when we have found the optimal setting, we try out other variants to see how the Centodieci reacts," says André Kullig.
During the tests in the wind tunnel, the engineers check the air flow to and around the Centodieci at several speeds. At 140 km / h they first determine a comparison value with other Bugatti hyper sports cars using a standard set-up. Then they run various tests up to the maximum speed of the test bench. “The data for the downforce on the front and rear axles are important. They have to be right because they are decisive for the driving behavior at high speeds, ”explains André Kullig. The goal: The most balanced possible driving behavior in the entire speed range from 0 to over 300 km / h.
The side air flow is also decisive for the thermal balance of the 8,0-liter W16 engine with 1.600 hp, because it supplies the engine and transmission oil cooler with air. Using special fog images, the engineers in the wind tunnel also check the brake cooling for the powerful system. In further tests, the wind hits the side of the body at different angles in order to also simulate the later driving behavior in fast corners with load changes. "Regardless of the speed and driving situation, the Centodieci behaves in a sporty neutral manner and is controllable at all times, despite its immense performance," says Andre Kullig. In order to choose the best and final set-up, the engineers will spend many more kilometers on inspection and test tracks over the next few weeks.
With the Centodieci, Bugatti presented another project from its successfully relaunched coachbuilding program in summer 2019. The Centodieci quotes automotive history: the unique project pays homage to the legendary EB 110, which revived the Bugatti brand around 30 years ago under Romano Artioli. The EB 110 becomes the super sports car of the 1990s. Everything was new about it: the breathtaking design as well as its exclusive technology: carbon monocoque, V12 mid-engine with 550 hp, four turbochargers and all-wheel drive propelled it to top speeds of over 350 km / h - unattainable for other sports cars from the time.
With the EB 110 and the Campogalliano plant, the passionate Bugatti fan Romano Artioli was way ahead of his time. He knew how to take Ettore Bugatti's ideas on technology, design, branding and production standards to a whole new level. Too demanding for the zeitgeist of the time. By 1995 only 96 EB110 GT and 32 EB110 Super Sport were produced. Bugatti limited the Centodieci to ten vehicles - all units were sold out within a few hours at a net unit price of eight million euros. The highly exclusive and handcrafted model will be delivered from next year.
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Bugatti Centodieci - Successful tests in the wind tunnel
Photo credit: Bugatti
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