Performance Cars

A closer look at the Bugatti Chiron's design

When it comes to a 261-mph hypercar, design needs to work in harmony with engineering. Here's how Bugatti did it.

Bugatti

There are some who found Bugatti's Veyron a little "function over form." They thought it was a bit ugly, but what's there was designed to serve a purpose. This time round, Bugatti wants people to think of its star car as a looker as well as a speed demon. Spend some time with the design team and you'll see why.

It wasn't originally supposed to look like it does

The "eight eyes" look, as it's known internally, wasn't the original design. It was initially a more open affair. Literally. Its front splayed out and it looked like a stylized Predator. That was the work of Sasha Selipanov, who had been invited to submit a design study to Bugatti along with other designers within the Volkswagen Group. Selipanov's design was picked and he joined Bugatti full-time to work on the Chiron.

This was an early model of the Chiron. It's cool, but it simply didn't fly for the board.

Bugatti

He and the team got to work producing a workable model of his concept, evolving it to a state that the board would be able to digest. Sadly, the front end wasn't to be, but the side and rear were just about bang on. Let's be honest, the eight eyes look is a bit less arresting, isn't it?

It's all about air

Speed requires power and aerodynamics. The kind of speeds the Chiron can achieve needs lots of both. This means the car has to be aerodynamic by design, yet gulp enough air that its massive engine doesn't explode. So the design team had to create a slippery shape with enough holes, essentially.

See the headlamps? See that gap on the inside of each? Those are air intakes. There are huge air dams in the front, as well. The most important part, though, is the "Bugatti Line," the giant C along the side of the car. Not only does it mean you can paint the car in two different colors more easily, but it's also a cooling intake.

Cold air goes in, warm air comes out.

Bugatti

The Bugatti line is referenced inside the car as well, framing the cabin as you get in. Why is it called the Bugatti Line? Because it looks remarkably like Ettore Bugatti's signature.

There's a hint of history in there

Bugatti has a wonderful history, and one of its most beautiful cars is referenced in the Chiron. There's a line that runs all the way down the middle of the car that's very similar to the one on the legendary Type 57 Atlantic. It ties the car together nicely, while also paying homage to one of the prettiest cars ever made. Smart.

Want your Chiron to look its best? Paint it silver

Everyone paints their cars silver, I know, but according to Achim Anscheidt, Bugatti's director of design, the Chiron looks its best in it. That's because it doesn't rely too heavily on sharp lines, but uses sculpture. Yes, there are definite curves and lines on the car, but much of its look is sculpted wonderfulness. "Let the reflections do the talking," Anscheidt said. Best listen to him, as he knows a thing or two about car design.

Law got in the way of cool stuff

Initially, Chiron wasn't supposed to have side mirrors. Cameras were supposed to sit on the outside, but there were legislation problems. The central spine could have held one as well, but it just wasn't going to happen. Maybe for the next one, eh?

The interior is all about being Iconic, Bespoke and Authentic

Huge amounts of though was put in to how the car's cabin will look, so much so that there's three aspects of "Bugatti DNA" (its words) to incorporate.

Iconic: It has to be instantly recognizable as a Bugatti. As such, the Bugatti Line is carried over to the inside. Bugatti's horseshoe, a key feature of the car's design, is mirrored on the steering wheel, which has been milled from a single piece of aluminum. While the Chiron embraces technology with screens taking the place of analog dials, the speedo eschews digital and stays firmly old school. Why? Because a speedo that goes up to 500 kph -- 310 mph -- is a sight to behold whether you're moving, or craning for a look through the window of a parked car.

And what an interior it is.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow


Authentic: There's only one piece of plastic in the interior: the seatbelt housing. The rest is a mix of metals and carbon fiber. The dash is a single piece of carbon and the Bugatti Line, instrument binnacle, switchgear and more are all aluminum. Only the best in the best.

Bespoke: You want it? You got it. When you go to spec your Chiron, you meet the craftsmen behind it, you're shown all the options available and talked through what can be done to your car. If it's possible, your car can be personalized to within an inch of its life. Don't expect to be able to put a full-size refrigerator in there, though. That'll be too big.

To create a car as complex and fast as the Chiron, you need to rethink and revaluate what's come before -- you need to get your head around the complexity of the challenge at hand. I won't know for sure until I get the chance to drive one, but it appears safe to say Bugatti's design team has done a fantastic job.

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