When a carmaker is preparing to release a new model, they usually have test mules or prototypes built to perform tests with, these days a lot of the preparation is done virtually, many thousands of miles are ‘driven’ on a computer before a working prototype is made, and more often than not, this prototype will hide underneath a modified body of an existing model, you’ll have to look at details like front and rear track, the position of the exhausts and other stuff like that to notice something is off, and you are actually looking at a test mule.
When it was time to create a successor for the Veyron, it took Bugatti a total of eight prototypes to develop the Chiron for production, and each of these prototypes is hand-built and get bespoke parts created just for that unit, the fifth prototype in the development actually still exists after eight years, called the 4-005, this was the car that got used to developing the Chiron’s software, which is used in a about 30 ‘computers’ found scattered around underneath the beautiful Chiron bodywork.
Rüdiger Warda was responsible for the Chiron’s infotainment and audio system, and it took him and a team of 13 engineers, computer scientists, and physicists to develop these systems for the new Bugatti Chiron, they spent weeks inside the 4-005 for stress-testing the system until everything was exactly as they wanted … this team was responsible for the way the headlights, taillights and turn signals perform their ‘show’ when the owner approaches the Chiron.
This was also the car to be driven in the USA, perform drifts in the snow in Scandinavia, complete laps on the high-speed ring in Nardò, and pass heat tests in South Africa … this 4-005 prototype had a rough life, and all of that had to happen before the global launch in 2016, being protected from spy shots all the time.
When Mark Schröder had difficulty reading the menu navigation writing during a test-drive in Arizona, USA, 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.
During all these undercover testing, the team sometimes did stress tests for as long as 10 hours straight, and still got out of the car without backpain or fatigue from driving, after eight years of hard driving conditions, this Bugatti Chiron 4-005 covered over 74,000 km, arguably the highest mileage Bugatti Chiron in the world, and if you look at the interior, the seats, and the electronics … they look essentially wear-free … what a testament to the quality of this hypercar.
Finally, in 2021, the Bugatti Chiron 4-005 development prototype is being retired, it will no longer be used to further develop any of the electronics, there will be no more equipment mounted in the interior or on the matte black bodywork for measuring or monitoring … it’s over for this prototype, it’s harsh life is no more and she will probably get a nice spot inside the museum now.