Bugatti is emerging from weeks of lockdown loudly, and sometimes sideways. Its engineers have started testing the Chiron Pur Sport unveiled in March 2020 on the Blister Berg track nestled in Germany's Teutoberg forest.
Blister Berg is a private track, so the team only has three days to fine-tune the Pur Sport's chassis, steering, suspension, and gearbox — the latter isn't the same unit that's found in the Chiron because its gear ratios are shorter in order to deliver quicker acceleration. Engineers are also monitoring wear-and-tear items, like the tires, and keeping an eye on the model-specific engine components. That's a lot to cram into three days, especially since Bugatti had to reduce the size of the team it sent to the track in order to comply with the social-distancing measures that remain in effect throughout much of the world. Germany's dense, fairytale-like forest is no exception.
Luckily, sensors aren't affected by health-related restrictions, and there's no limit to the number Bugatti can stuff into the two pre-production prototypes tirelessly lapping the Blister Berg track. They're monitoring a variety of parameters, including the exhaust temperature. They're also helping engineers set up the new Sport+ driving mode that relies on gyro-based technology to make the Chiron more eager to drift. Creating this profile requires a tremendous amount of calibration work. Testers download data after each run, analyze it, and make changes if needed. Bugatti told Autoblog the Chiron can already drift, but the new mode makes it a little bit easier.
Going through this costly, time-consuming process is a way for the firm to demonstrate that its definition of performance doesn't end at straight-line speed. It wants to show a lesser-known side of its personality.
"Bugatti has always proven it can build fast cars in terms of top speed," the company told Autoblog, pointing to cars like the Chiron Super Sport 300+. "However, we also have a history of building cars devoted to agility. This is often forgotten or overshadowed by the incredible top speed feats. We, as did some of our valued customers we talked to about this, felt we should complete the spectrum of performance of the Chiron lineup."
Validation testing will continue in the coming months; Bugatti will notably take the Pur Sport to the Nürburgring. Jachin Schwalbe, head of chassis development, explained every part of the car needs to work perfectly on its own, but also as part of the broader package. While that's par for the course when it comes to developing a new car, the Pur Sport needs to work perfectly over a much larger speed range than the average car.
Pur Sport production is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2020. Sixty units will be built, and pricing starts at €3 million, a figure that makes it slightly more expensive than the Chiron. In the meantime, the company's factory in Molsheim, France, is assembling the first examples of the limited-edition Divo introduced in 2018. Bugatti's lineup has grown considerably in a few short years, which adds a level of complexity to its production.
"We are currently building the Chiron, the Chiron Sport, and the Divo. And, we'll be building the Chiron Pur Sport, the Chiron Super Sport 300+, the La Voiture Noire, and the Centodieci as soon as their development has concluded. We naturally had to adjust or optimize our structures and processes, not only in the production or in R&D, but also in the design, procurement, and logistics departments — in all departments, really. We have successfully done so, and the team is proud to see the portfolio grow."
Although it couldn't share more details about what's next, the company assured us it's not idling in neutral. "We can't disclose what we are working on, but our team doesn't know boredom."