As production of the Chiron draws to a close, Bugatti is looking back at the W16 engine that has powered its cars since it returned to the scene nearly 20 years ago. The engine is relatively compact, extremely powerful and it has helped the company set many world records.
Before Volkswagen Boss Ferdinand Karl Piëch knew that successfully reviving Bugatti required building a car that stood out from everything else on the road at the time. He originally intended to power Veyron with an 18-cylinder engine and sketched it on an envelope while traveling on a bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka in Japan in 1997. His idea later turned into a 16-cylinder engine, but reducing a pair of cylinders didn’t make the engine any easier to develop. Bugatti engineers started from scratch to make the W16 a reality.
“We had to be involved in the basic development of every component; every part of the car had to be rebuilt and tested – even the engine test bench. The only thing that we didn’t change was this. the pencils that we use to draw,” said former Bugatti head of technical development Gregor Gries. The initial goal was to launch a Veyron with more than 1,000 horsepower, even some insiders doubted that this could be achieved.
Bugatti has succeeded: The Veyron has been in production since 2005 with an 8.0-liter, twin-turbo W16 engine that makes 1,000 horsepower and 922 pound-feet of torque. Horsepower increased to 1,200 in Veyron Super Sportand Chiron however, inaugurated a new version of the engine with a capacity of 1,500 hp thanks in part to the larger turbos Chiron Super Sport provides a capacity of 1,600 horsepower.
Engineers faced a number of significant challenges during Veyron’s development. Getting the W16 to generate 1,000 hp is not one; it broke the symbolic barrier the first time it was put on the test bench in 2001. Keeping the temperature in check required designing a massive cooling system that took up more than 10 gallons coolant and install a titanium exhaust system. With the engine ready to go, Bugatti turned its attention to creating a car capable of handling 1,000 horsepower, both in terms of comfort and aerodynamics.
Karl-Heinz Neumann, former head of Volkswagen’s engine development department, said: “At that time, there was no literature or experimental data on production engines with more than 12 cylinders or production engines. can run faster than 217 mph. “One thing has proven to be a particularly painful problem: the car has to land, its power has to grip the road, which is not easy at this speed.”
It’s no surprise that building Chiron’s W16 engine is a meticulous and time-consuming process. Bugatti explains that the engine is produced in a special room in the factory Volkswagen operates in Salzgitter, Germany. Two technicians spend no less than six days assembling the 3,712 individual parts that make up the engine. When completed, the W16 was shipped to the Bugatti factory in Molsheim, France.
What’s next? Your guess is as good as ours. Bugatti notes that the W16 is “the last car of its kind”, which suggests (but does not confirm) that the engine is coming to an end. The company is now under the same roof like Rimac is based in Croatia, but that doesn’t mean Chiron’s successor is going to power. “[The car] will be heavily electrified, but we will have a very attractive internal combustion engine,” speak Mate Rimac in March 2022.