It's not an often case when you can speak to a Bugatti designer, let alone three of them. Achim Andscheidt, Sasha Selipanov, and Etienne Salome constitute 75 percent of the four-strong brand's design team, tasked with creating the successor to the legendary Veyron. Before it'll be released next year, Bugatti took a chance to warm us up with something extraordinary even by its own standards: a Vision Gran Turismo concept car tailored for the Gran Turismo game series. Despite all the fantasy accompanying most of the concepts from this project, the mega-Bug is surprisingly realistic: It's a fully functional car made in cooperation with top racing specialists, bearing hints of future Bugattis styling.
The Bugatti design team isn't what you'd expect. They seem to maintain a far more laid-back, family spirit within the team than, let's say, their colleagues from the VW design studio. They're by no means less serious or committed, though. The head of the team, Achim Anscheidt, is a massive car enthusiast at heart, owning a stripped-out, Kevlar-bodied classic Porsche 911. He was with Bugatti from the rebirth and observed the whole life cycle of Veyron and its growth to that legendary position. Sasha Selipanov is responsible for the exterior design. He graduated in transportation design in California and made his way through many of the Volkswagen Group brands, recently being involved in the design of the Lamborghini Huracan. Etienne Salome, on the other hand, is 100 percent French—he's absolutely passionate about Bugatti history.
The design team's mission is best summed up by Achim Anscheidt himself: "Bugatti Design Team has to be fairly specialized. It's not a big brand; we have only one product. The cars we do, though, are tailored specifically for their needs. Vision Gran Turismo is more proof of that. This project was a thinking exercise showing what do we want to say about the Bugatti brand. It's a part of the Vision Gran Turismo project, but while many of the concepts coming for this game are loosely connected with reality, our car is, well, it's hard to say this one is a down-to-earth project, but it's more realistic than most of the rest."
Sasha elaborated: "For us it was always clear that if we did such a project, it'd be as authentic as possible. We're not a brand that makes science-fiction statements; we're very serious about engineering and technology. We didn't want to quote outrageous numbers and claim the car can fly to the moon; We wanted to be very honest and professional and yes, indeed, down to earth to some extent. We have a strength for which our car is known, which is its incredible top speed, so we wanted to play up our strengths and create a car that showcases our brand's values to the maximum in a very realistic way. The Veyron was designed with a 'beauty and the beast' approach. This project is all-out beast. We plan to elaborate this theme on our future projects, so you can indeed see this as a preview, a teaser of the next Bugatti." As Achim confirms: "We'll shift that balance little more to the dynamic side."
So what are the key points to look for? Sasha explains: "Each of the main views of the car—the front, the rear, the side, and the top—represent a future design statement. The front of the Bugatti starts with a horseshoe grill. That was always the case. It's an icon we'd never want to deviate away from. But even if we still keep it, it can change its role: Now it is an aerodynamic device that holds the front wing. The car has a beastly, very focused and aggressive look that comes through the eight eyes. The LED lights further develop our DNA. The side of the car has a performance-driven enhancement, which is the Bugatti signature line. It may look very artistic and desirable, but is actually driven by function: The engine needs very effective cooling. The rear view has a cut-off back end, divided by a simple, clearly defined horizontal line. Bugatti has always been known for center-line accentuation. Look at Type 35 with its boat-tail or Type 57 Atlantic with the riveted roof. On this car, we tried to reinterpret that theme by an aerodynamic stabilizer fin and a DRS actuator for the rear wing, which all tie in nicely for the centerline philosophy.
Etienne takes over talking about the interior: "That center line was carried over to the cabin, establishing a visual bond between the exterior and interior. It's a race car, meant to be driven with a helmet, in extreme race conditions, so the dashboard had to be made very intuitive. It's a car meant to raced today, not in 20 years, but we strived for some thought-provoking innovation. We introduced a curved screen on the steering wheel (a first in the automotive industry) and mounted a bigger one on the steering column, which can display the view from the three rearview cameras merged together in one picture. Steering wheel, seats, and door handles are made from the same leather as is used for the Formula 1 driving shoes, so it's very thin and strong."
Making this car real was a completely different challenge compared to the Veyron. First, it's not aimed at a strictly select small group of multimillionaires, but a multimillion nation of PlayStation gamers from all around the world. Secondly, it's a competition race car, which is something totally different to a road car on its own.
Etienne: "We made calculations together with Dallara that show that the car would pass the 400-km/h (248.5-mph) mark four times a lap at Le Mans, finishing it with the same time as the LMP car."
Sasha cools down our expectations: "We didn't want to signal the start of a racing campaign by that, though. We just wanted to showcase our performance expertise. We agreed to take part in the project, as we're big Gran Turismo fans. In exception to our old guy [Sasha points at Achim], we're all in our early thirties, so for us a car for the younger generation is a no-brainer. All we had to do was basically think of what we like, as a Bugatti and Gran Turismo fan."