How the Bugatti Veyron Works

Special Features

Photo courtesy Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.

The special features of the Bugatti W-16 engine are amazing. For example:

  • The engine has four valves per cylinder, for a total of 64 valves.
  • It has a dry sump lubrication system borrowed from Formula 1 race cars, along with an intricate internal oil path to ensure proper lubrication and cooling within the 16 cylinders.
  • It has electronically controlled, continuously variable cam timing to create optimal performance at different engine rpm settings.
  • It has a massive radiator to deal with all of the waste heat that burning 1.33 gallons of gasoline per minute can generate.

Everything about the engine is superlative.


And it is remarkably compact. It measures just 710 mm (27 inches) long, 889 mm (35 inches) wide and 730 mm (28.7 inches) high. This is the beauty of Bugatti's W-16 approach -- the engineers managed to fit 1,000 hp into a reasonably sized package.

In order to harness all of this horsepower and torque, you need an amazing transmission...

The Transmission

The transmission is unique, in particular because it has to harness about twice as much torque as any previous sports-car transmission. It has:

This computer-controlled system is identical to the sort of system found in a Formula 1 car or a Champ car. There is no clutch pedal or shift lever for the driver to operate -- the computer controls the clutch disks as well as the actual shifting. The computer is able to shift gears in 0.2 seconds.

See Audi: Uninterrupted Power: Technical Details for more information on dual-clutch systems.

It would be almost impossible for all of the torque available from the W-16 engine to flow out to just two wheels without constant wheel-spin. Therefore, the Veyron has full-time all-wheel drive. By applying the engine's power to all four wheels through a computer-controlled traction-control system, the car is able to harness all of the engine's horsepower, even at full acceleration.

See Audi: Quattro for an explanation of the Quattro all-wheel drive system. See also How Differentials Work and How Four-Wheel Drive Works.