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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

Engineers at Bugatti complete the next development phase of its Centodieci with hot Weather Testing

During the height of summer, engineers from Wolfsburg are spending three weeks in the USA, testing numerous vehicles in extreme weather conditions. The car leading the convoy is a prototype of the exclusive Bugatti Centodieci. Just ten cars will be hand-built at Bugatti in Molsheim, delivering to customers next year.

In addition to cold-climate testing, high-speed and endurance drives, hot-climate testing is one of every Bugatti model's most crucial development elements. Bugatti says it has dedicated a 27-strong engineering team to this critical stage on the USA test, and each member has a key role to play during the exhaustive testing program.

In the deserts of the USA, temperatures can on occasion, exceed 50°C, creating an extremely hostile environment for both humans and machines. But it is an environment that gives Bugatti's engineers a crucial advantage.

"Testing in the hot, dry desert is a huge help for us in the development process. All Bugatti models have to function perfectly no matter how high the temperature, including the few-of Centodieci. Even if we are only creating ten cars, as with the Centodieci, the testing procedure is just as grueling. Every model has to run flawlessly in all weather and in all traffic conditions," explains Stefan Schmidt, an engineer in Overall Vehicle Development at Bugatti.

Departing from California, the convoy drives 800 kilometres (500 miles) to Arizona, travelling along the Central Pacific Highway by the Pacific Ocean and passing through San Diego. There are eight hyper sports cars from Molsheim on the road– the Bugatti Centodieci is followed by three Chiron Pur Sports and four Chiron Super Sports. With the exception of the white Centodieci, matte black film protects the bodywork of the extraordinary and exclusive fleet of vehicles.

Rapid ascents up Mount Lemon to the north of Tucson, Arizona, take the Bugatti fleet to an altitude of almost 2,800 meters. Along with the rest of the cars, the engineers relentlessly expose the Centodieci to a demanding test program. It's battered by rough roads, subjected to low-speed stop-start traffic, left standing in the blazing sun with the air conditioning on full blast and driven at 320km/h (198mph) on a closed road environment.

Bugatti engineers check key systems such as the electrics, telemetrics, radio frequencies, air conditioning, and fueling processes repeatedly. The Centodieci, like all the cars, is fitted with 200 sensors, which feed data to the engineers on site and the development team back at Wolfsburg.

"During hot-climate testing, we focus specifically on the chassis, engine, transmission, thermal management, and electrics as well as on the vehicle as a whole," reveals Pierre Rommelfanger, Head of Overall Vehicle Development at Bugatti. In addition, the team check interior components and body parts for thermal expansion, look, and feel, leaving no detail unchecked, no matter how small.

Due to its many unique attributes, the Centodieci is subject to even higher engineering scrutiny. Powered by a potent 8.0-litre W16 engine producing 1,176 kW/1,600 PS at 7,000 rpm, the Centodieci features an additional air intake near the oil cooler, regulating engine temperature.

"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, 45°C plus heat conditions," explains André Kullig,Technical Project Manager for few-of projects at Bugatti. On the drive, the engineers compare the latest findings with simulation models and data from previous tests such as high-speed drives at the Nardó proving ground in Italy.

"This hot weather endurance test is fundamental for us as it is the only way we can ensure that the Centodieci, like every Bugatti model, offers a flawless, reliable, and safe drive in extreme heat, too – even though our customers may never subject their cars to such extreme conditions. The new tests prove that our existing setup for the Centodieci works optimally for hours on end even in extreme heat," says a delighted André Kullig.

The entire convoy attracts attention at every fuel station and every parking lot. People flock around the vehicles, taking photos and asking questions. One elderly lady is so smitten with the cars that she immediately invites the Bugatti crew on a drive with the local automobile club. "The positive reactions tell us that people's enthusiasm for the Centodieci and the Chiron models isn't waning. It really puts a spring in our step while we work," smiles Stefan Schmidt.

Having successfully completed hot weather testing, Bugatti's engineers will now take the Centodieci on its final high-speed drives and endurance tests over a distance of 30,000 kilometres (186,000 miles) in Europe. Only once those have been completed and the car signed-off by the development team, will production of the ten Centodieci models commence in Molsheim, France.

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