As production of the Chiron approaches, Bugatti is taking a look at the W16 engine that has powered its cars since returning to the scene nearly 20 years ago. The engine is relatively compact, extremely powerful and has helped the company set several world records.
Former Volkswagen boss Ferdinand Karl Piëch knew that to successfully revive Bugatti it was necessary to build a car that stood out from the rest of the road at the time. He originally planned to power the then-future Veyron with an 18-cylinder engine and drew it on an envelope while traveling on a high-speed train from Tokyo to Osaka in Japan in 1997. His concept later became a 16-cylinder engine. cylinders, but the fall of a couple of cylinders did not facilitate the development of the unit. Bugatti engineers started from scratch to make the W16 a reality.
“We had to commit to the basic development of every component; every part of the vehicle had to be rebuilt and tested again, even the engine test stand. The only thing we didn’t change was the pencils we used to draw.” said former Bugatti chief of technical development Gregor Gries. The initial goal was to launch the Veyron with over 1,000 horsepower, and even some insiders doubt that this could be achieved.
Bugatti made it: The Veyron went into production in 2005 with an 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 engine rated at 1,000 horsepower and 922 foot-pounds of torque. Power has increased to 1,200 in the Veyron Super Sport and the Chiron has ushered in a new version of the 1,500 horsepower engine thanks in part to larger turbos, although the Chiron Super Sport offers 1,600 horsepower.
The engineers faced several significant challenges during the Veyron development process. Getting the W16 to make 1,000 horsepower wasn’t one; broke the symbolic barrier the first time it was put on a test bed in 2001. Keeping its temperature in check required the design of a huge cooling system that requires over 10 gallons of coolant and the installation of a titanium exhaust system. With the engine ready for use, Bugatti has turned its attention to creating a car that can cope with 1,000 horsepower, both in terms of comfort and aerodynamics.
“Back then, there was no literature or empirical data for production engines with more than 12 cylinders or for production vehicles that could go faster than 217 mph,” said Karl-Heinz Neumann, former head of engine development. of Volkswagen. “One thing turned out to be a particular headache: the car had to stay on the ground, its power had to stay on the road, which isn’t easy at these speeds.”
Unsurprisingly, building the Chiron’s W16 engine is a painstaking and time-consuming process. Bugatti explains that the engine is manufactured in a special room within the plant that Volkswagen operates in Salzgitter, Germany. It takes two technicians no less than six days to assemble the 3,712 individual parts that make up the engine. Upon completion, the W16 is shipped to the Bugatti plant in Molsheim, France.
What’s next? Your guess is as good as ours. Bugatti notes that the W16 is “the last of its kind”, which suggests (but does not confirm) that the end for the engine is near. The company is now under the same roof as Croatia-based Rimac, but that doesn’t mean the Chiron’s successor will go electric. “[The car] it will be heavily electrified, but we will have a very interesting combustion engine, “said Mate Rimac in March 2022.