In automotive engineering, prototypes generally serve development purposes and are usually then disposed of after a few years.
However, by sending the Chiron 4-005 into "well-earned" retirement, Bugatti is hinting that the prototype could be spared a brutal fate and may appear in public again.
For the Chiron 4-005, the 4 stands for “prototype” and the 5 stands for the fifth prototype of the Chiron.
In all, eight prototypes were created, each built by hand and featuring many custom-made parts.
The Chiron 4-005 is also the first Chiron to be driven in the US, performed drifts in the snow in Scandinavia, completed laps on the high-speed ring in Nardò, passed heat tests in South Africa, and is even subjected to the afterburner of a Eurofighter Typhoon.
The matte surface, adhesive strips, scratches, and minor grazes bear witness to a tough life despite the vehicle electronics are still essentially wear-free.
Starting in 2013, all of the Chiron hypercar’s software is developed and tested in the Chiron 4-005.
This involves some 30 vehicle control units undergoing a specific test procedure following a modification, first on the test bench and subsequently in the vehicle.
When modifications are made, the engineers also monitor the condition and therefore the quality.
Rüdiger Warda has been developing Bugatti vehicles for almost 20 years and is responsible for the Chiron’s infotainment and audio system.
“In the case of the 4-005, we performed all the tests and were on the road for many weeks, and this brings you together.
“The prototype shaped our work and with the prototype we shaped the Chiron,” he said.
Some 13 engineers, computer scientists, and physicists work with the vehicle and take care of it as if it were their own – even though it is “just” a work tool.
The Chiron also undergoes all the updates before it goes into series production.
These include new navigation system functions and conference calling as well as HMI menu navigation based on a strict design specification – a minimalist interior without large displays should provide all the information, all of which can be controlled from the steering wheel.
“Developing a combination of a purely driving machine and comfortable, intuitive operation was challenging. With Bugatti, driving is part of the experience – the menu navigation should only support it,” Warda said.
For map presentation, the team selected a black background with blue symbols and white writing.
When the speed key is activated, the infotainment system closes down completely.
The driver doesn’t need any distractions when driving at 400kph, and needs to be able to concentrate fully on driving.
Mark Schröder has been developing the Chiron’s human-machine interface (HMI) since 2011, which includes the menu navigation.
“We want to provide the driver with a lot of information and present this information logically and elegantly. It also needs to be intuitive to operate,” Schröder said.
When Schröder had difficulty reading the menu navigation writing during a test-drive in Arizona, he came up with a solution right away.
Like the electronic paper display of an e-book reader, the display background now changes from black to white and the writing from white to black when signaled to do so by a sun sensor.
Even though it is a piece of work equipment, every drive in the Chiron is special.
“In spite of it being an immense feat, we drove for up to ten hours at a time – and got out of the car feeling fit in the evenings,” said Norbert Uffmann, who is responsible for telemetry and connectivity at Bugatti.
They have positive memories of the many wonderful moments with the vehicle as well as the reactions of other road users – regardless of whether they were car drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians, the Chiron triggers joy and excitement.
Even stern US police officers took interest in the hyper sports car, asked questions, and posed for photos.