The vehicle development started with the VW W12 NARDO/SYNCHRO prototypes before taking on a life of its own via stratospheric performance dictates from the very top of the Volkswagen Group.
1000-horsepower and 250-mph.
Great in theory, surpassed in practice!
Even so.... this long intro is basically a warning: do not get too excited aboiut this car arriving imminently. And for the most part, do not pre-judge its looks.
Let's analyze what the latest spy shots from Europe mean for the next Bugatti, then share two sets of future Bugatti renderings of what the car might look like when complete:
-- Why go out on the roads now? At least partially to dispel the gossip and confirm to fans that a next-gen car is definitely still in progress.
-- We estimate an arrival for the 2018 model year, likely debuting in the Fall of 2017. Frankfurt show.
-- For most car companies, the R&D test mules hitting public roads is a strong indication that the car will arrive within 24-months. This is no ordinary car, however, and needs extraordinary care in its development.
-- WHAT? What does the next-gen Bugatti look like?
-- While nearly wrapped completely in detail-hiding black matte sheets, the 'Chiron' as some have called it, cannot do real testing with the typical fake bodywork additions that disguise many test mules. For a Bugatti, the core shape needs to be exposed in order for the vehicle's cooling and aerodynamics to function as normal.
-- We already have seen what shape the car will take in the Vision GT concept car.
-- HOW? Will the Vision GT concept influence the 'Chiron's looks and performance?
Oh yes. In almost every way. Picture the Bugatti VGT sans racing spoilers, and you basically have a clear look at the production car being tested here.
2018 Bugatti 'Chiron' DESIGN ANALYSIS
A much meaner nose with far less body-color panelwork is the first notable change. The prototype seen here has advanced active aero for the lower splitter, plus new ventwork to expel this nose air once it's passed through the radiators and intercoolers --- likely spat out up through the hood to also increase downforce at the same time.
Pushing hot air over the roof means the roof-mounted intake scoops of the current Veyron may be dropped on the next-gen car. Every little bit to hit 286-mph! That is 20-mph faster than the fastest current Veyron. In this model's lifetime, it will hit 300-mph.
The new lights shown on the test mule are just placeholders. Expect totally different lighting front and rear.
-- In profile, a carved lower sill takes much of the flowing solid curves from the Veyron's doors and fenders. In their place, carved inner fenders open up to free trapped air from the wheel wells.
-- Around the mid-section, the D-shaped side intake currently ends its swirl shape at the lower window edge of the doors. The new model employs a much taller C-shaped intake -- which extends all the way up to finish its round graphic at the upper window edge. The door and glasshouse is sunken inside this wider and wilder intake design.
The C-shaped intake will feed more air to the dozen intercoolers and chillers in the engine compartment, while also ensuring a very, very different look from any current Veyron.
-- Around back, the prototype is clearly all-new versus the Veyron. Where the Veyron tail ends with a very rounded and flowing back edge, the new car is a full long-tail LeMans-type aero treatment. This means the actual tail section is now split from the side graphics via a sharp outline of fenderwork. The whole rump is much longer and much lower than before -- an estimated 5-inches farther rearward and at least a few inches lower than the current car.
This longtail aero is exceptionally important to the speed goals noted above. The extra trunk room may allow some kind of partial hybrid tech (though this is not likely) or may house a much more elaborate active aero and active rear wing. Likely with deployable mini wings, a la the Porsche Panamera Turbo.
Open rear backlight area on the prototype shows a split-window design -- just withoutany rear glass whatsoever. The engine compartment needs to be open for cooling purposes, but without the big open area below the tall scoop pillars of the Veyron Vitesse. Keeping a shell of the roof shape will help reduce drag -- again aiding high-speed potential.
Below the tail edge are placeholder lights and rear fascia. This is not how we expect the car to look in production form at all. Only the elaborate lower diffuser is likely to be the real thing. [OLED lamp elements may hug the edge of the upper and lower trailing edges of the Chiron, as shown in renders below.]
All of this could and likely will change for the eventual production car.
But from these spy shots, we can confirm two things definitely: a new Bugatti record-breaker is almost ready for primetime. And when it arrives, the World's Fastest Car honors will stay in Molsheim for many years to come.
In closing, here are two cool things:
-- CRD renders: some really janky (but car-revs-daily.com exclusive!) renders of a next-gen Bugatti -- evolving the current car to include the new design and aero elements.
-- Vaughan Ling 'Bugatti Type 60' Renderings
More beautiful fantasy renders come our way via Vaughan Ling's Tumbler page... which definitely gets the long-tail aero shape right, if not the midsection or nose graphic. Ling's work-in-progress beat the Vision GT concept to the public eye --- his work here is from January 2015, while the concept appeared almost 9 months later. Just mentioning this to give him props for prescient design vision. Ling's initial prototypes are tagged as June 2013!
Vaughan Ling Renderings: http://vaughanling.tumblr.com/
Spy photo credit - tail: Autogespot
Spy photo credit - nose: @Max.Knz Instagram