Bugatti, which unveiled the handling-focused Divo at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2018, has commenced deliveries of its R100-million W16-engined hypercar. It will produce a total of just 40 units, all of which were pre-sold to Chiron owners well before the hypercar made its public debut.
The 420-kph Bugatti Chiron, which succeeded the Veyron in 2016, needs little introduction. Powered by an 8.0-litre quad-turbocharged W16 engine that produces 1 103 kW and 1 600 Nm of torque, the carbon-fibre bodied, all-wheel-drive hypercar is the crowning achievement of the Volkswagen Group-owned French manufacturer. But, means allowing, those who want one, can buy one.
Ex-Lamborghini Boss Stephan Winkelmann unveiled the Divo in Monterey, California in 2018.
The same cannot be said for the exclusive Divo, however. When Stephan Winkelmann, who led Lamborghini for 11 years and was in charge of Audi Sport for a little under 2 years thereafter, took the reins at Bugatti at the beginning of 2018, the French manufacturer embarked on a project to develop a car based on the Chiron, but one that would have a distinct look, character and, although it would be just as powerful as its celebrated sibling, offer “a completely different handling performance”.
Named after Albert Divo – a French pilot and racing driver who won the Targa Florio in Sicily in 1928 and 1929 at the wheel of a Bugatti Type 35 (the French marque famously won the historic race 5 times in a row) – the Divo has undergone a rigorous 2-year development period and, according to Bugatti, the first of a limited run of 40 units are now being delivered to a select group of customers.
Bugatti has added a plethora of vents and ducts to the Divo's bodywork to improve the hypercar's aerodynamic and cooling efficiency.
You see, the Divo was offered exclusively to existing Chiron owners by dealer invitation. Within a few months of the initial design model being created, Bugatti flew those owners to its headquarters in Molsheim, France to present the Divo, which was “designed to be more sporty and agile in bends (the Chiron, but) without sacrificing comfort and… supremacy” (sic).
The design team – led by Bugatti design director Achim Anscheidt – optimised the Divo for lateral acceleration, as well as aerodynamic and thermodynamic efficiency. Compared with the Chiron, the newcomer has a bespoke bonnet, front spoiler and finned side skirts; they include several extra inlets and ducting to improve downforce, as well as engine- and brake cooling.
Note the NACA duct in the roof and the central fin that directs air over the Divo's rear diffuser.
The roof, meanwhile, features a NACA duct that channels over the rear wing, which is 23% wider than that of the Chiron, via a central fin. Although the rear wing does not extend, its angle can be adjusted for individual modes and continues to function as an air brake. The rear diffuser features a quartet of exhaust pipes to give the 8.0-litre W16 its unique sound signature.
The detailing is quite sublime… The intricate LED headlights have a flat light aperture of only 35 mm, while the tail-light modules consist of 44 illuminated fins, which are partly produced by a 3D-printing process. Inside, new sports seats with higher bolsters hold the occupants securely, while the steering wheel is partially covered in Alcantara and comes equipped with enlarged shift paddles.
The tail-light clusters comprise a series of intricately-stacked fins (44 in all) that were created using 3D-printing.
But back to the Divo’s raison d’être – its handling prowess… The Divo has similar engine outputs to the Chiron, accelerates from 0 to 100 kph in 2.4 seconds and its top speed is limited to 380 kph (as opposed to 420 kph), but it weighs 35 kg less than its sibling, generates 90 kg more downforce (up to a claimed 456 kg at 380 kph) and, as a consequence, is capable of higher cornering speeds.
In fact, Bugatti says the Divo’s capable of achieving a maximum lateral acceleration of no less than 1.6 g; the newcomer is claimed to be able to lap the 6.2-kilometre handling circuit at the (Porsche-owned) Nardò testing ground in Italy a full 8 seconds faster than the Chiron.
The Divo's handling characteristics were honed using simulations, road evaluations and testing at the Nurburgring and Nardo.
Over and above achieving a lower kerb weight, higher downforce and "a more direct chassis setup", Bugatti adapted the Divo’s wheel cambers front and rear, stiffened its springs and fine-tuned the steering to achieve a more front-oriented handling balance and sharpen the hypercar’s responses to steering inputs overall.
Apart from putting the Divo through its paces at Nardo and the Nurburgring, Bugatti conducted more than 5 000 km of testing across all the newcomer’s speed ranges (yes, up to 280 kph) in the 3 driving modes: EB, Motorway and Handling; it adjusted the hypercar's setup repeatedly to refine it to a point that “all parameters were perfectly matched.”
A quad-tipped exhaust juts out from the Divo's shapely rear diffuser.
“The Divo is entirely different to drive than the Chiron. This is particularly evident when driving the car on twisty roads. With even more precise steering and greater downforce, the Divo corners comparatively faster and more predictably,” says Lars Fischer, the head of chassis testing and application at Bugatti. “Despite being a hyper sports car, the Divo remains well suited to everyday use.”