Classic Car Capital

The Bugatti Centodieci Test Drive Process

If there is one word that describes the 10 coachbuilt examples of the Bugatti Centodieci, it would be ‘perfection’. Thousands of hours were dedicated to test every single component, which are then meticulously assembled with precision at the Bugatti Atelier in Molsheim. As part of their commitment to quality and perfection, before it can be delivered to its owner, it has to get the seal of approval from Steve Jenny, the most experienced of Bugatti test drivers and one who is known for accepting nothing but the best.

Familiar with all the intricate characteristic of the modern Bugatti, Steve notices even the smallest detail. Collectively, he has driven more than 350,000 kilometers behind the wheel of the Chiron, Veyron, Centodieci, and the Divo. He has even driven the one-of-one La Voiture Noire. He ensures that every single one of them is free from imperfections and drives exactly like a Bugatti. Each car, though a one-off or a few-off, goes through the same procedure to ensure that it passes the extremely strict criteria that Bugatti requires before a car is delivered to a customer.

Though the Centodieci shares a powertrain with the Chiron Super Sport, with its iconic 8.0-liter W16 engine producing 1,600 PS, the engineers at Bugatti worked extensively to perfect the handling of the Centodieci so that it’ll have a unique dynamic experience that brings together unmatched comfort and unrivaled performance. Since there will only be 10 cars in this few-off series, Steve’s expertise built from driving around 800 different Bugatti vehicles is much needed so he can immediately pin point how the Centodieci should feel.

Finished in ‘EB110 Argent’ paint, matched with an interior that was meticulously assembled by hand in the Molsheim Atelier, Steve makes sure that the interior remains perfect. Before it starts, the Atelier team carefully protects both the body and the interior of the car. The Centodieci is then put through one of the most grueling pre-delivery inspections in the automotive world.

For around five hours, covering at least 300 km, he drives around the countryside in Molsheim subjecting the car through different roads and surfaces. Routes are outlined depending on the season and weather conditions, enabling Steve to judge the attributes of the car. Designed to copy all the conditions that a customer may encounter, the car goes through twisting mountain roads, through the famed Route des Vins d’Alsace, through the autoroute, and typical Alsatian villages so that the character of the Centodieci could be assessed during the whole drive.

Much like the Bugatti EB110 Super Sport, the W16 engine of the Centodieci is located under an EB110-style glass sheet, unlike the Chiron that has it mostly uncovered. With the isolated engine, the Centodieci has a different aural signature compared to the Chiron Super Sport, and one of Steve’s responsibilities is to make sure that it is consistent in all of the 10 cars.

Steven does not only check the personality of the Centodieci during the test drive, he also ensures that any practically imperceptible discrepancies are fixed, even those that are obvious only to those that have a very deep knowledge of Bugatti. Even the amount of noise from the road and suspension that is isolated from the cabin is checked, or the subtle sounds of flexing leather and carbon fiber that change with temperature and humidity is checked. Each and all of these aspects must pass the high standards that Bugatti requires.

The test brings the Centodieci on a closed runway of a local airport where the acceleration is checked. With a top speed of 380 kph, the Centodieci can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in only 2.4 seconds. Other features tested are the high speed slaloms, emergency braking, emergency lane changes (‘Handling’ mode), these are done in complete safety to ensure that even at these impressive speeds, and under intense conditions, the Centodieci is perfected. Every aspect of the Centodieci is ensured to be dynamically perfect, safe, and even stable for the clients.

During his test drive, he is also tasked to check the different material finishes and bespoke touches that are on each of the Centodieci. Bugatti created custom shapes, parts, and workmanship processes for the car. As is typical of all coachbuilt models, the vital elements of the interior are differentiated for the Centodieci, one of these is a precise leather quilting in the interior, creating a chessboard effect, which was designed to look uniform and composed.

The exacting standards Bugatti set is ingrained in him that when any material feels rougher than it should, and if there are any switches, buttons, and handles that look or feel off, he will return to the Atelier to identify, explain, and correct the issues. Everything is measured and analyzed, adhering to extreme precise tolerances with zero room for interpretation.

Once the car has passed a long list of strict Bugatti criteria it is then ready for the next stage with the Atelier team. The final set of wheels is fitted, the gearbox’s filter is changed, parts are replaced if needed, and any and all imperfections are corrected. The car is then taken for a final test drive of roughly 50 km. Each car is driven for a minimum of 350 km before it is delivered to the customer. Finally, this automotive homage to the 110 years of Bugatti history and the product of Molsheim’s engineering and design excellence is not ready to be delivered to the client.

Bugatti Test Driver Steve Jenny shared, “There is no compromise in the creation of a Bugatti, especially one as rare and unique as the Centodieci. Since only 10 will ever be created, the opportunities to drive such an extraordinary car are so rare that we must redouble our attention during the final drive. Ensuring consistent perfection across each Centodieci, and every Bugatti, is extremely important. If we encounter any issues we will not be swayed by deadlines or timing; the car will not be delivered until we are confident it is perfect in every single detail. It’s what has come to define the Bugatti brand, and it’s what our customers expect.”

The Molsheim Atelier is producing only ten hand-built examples of the Bugatti Centodieci. It has a unit price of eight million Euros, and before it was unveiled in 2019, it was already sold out.

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