Refreshing or Revolting: Bugatti Centodieci

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Bugatti wowed crowds at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance when it unveiled the Centodieci. Based on the Chiron, it’s meant as a tribute to the EB110, the oft-overlooked yet unforgettably styled supercar that’s among the fastest of the Radwood era. With the Centodieci, Molsheim had to accomplish two things. First, make it a worthwhile business endeavor. Given that all 10 of the limited-run hypercar are sold at some $9 million each, that’s a clear success. Second, it needed to make the Centodieci a worthy homage to the EB110. Here, in rare form, Bugatti may have faltered.
While the Centodieci is undeniably cool, its design is polarizing to say the least. Let’s examine Bugatti’s latest creation in detail.

First, the front. As a clear tie-in to the original, the brand’s signature horseshoe grille is very small, much more so than other modern Bugattis. It’s flanked by horizontal grille openings as a nod to the EB110’s fascia. Ahead of the front fenders are curved scoops which make the car look like it’s puffing up its cheeks. Headlights are sleek LED strips, so narrow that we wonder what kind of output and beam pattern they produce. Those lend the Centodieci a slit-eyed look only a multi-millionaire could love.

Bugatti Centodieci rear

Bugatti Centodieci rear

The Centodieci’s profile design is, like the EB110 and other mid-engine vehicles, largely dictated by vents and ducts needed to supply air to the powertrain. Most noticeable—and controversial—among those is the “cheese grater” aperture behind the greenhouse. This is a distinct cue from the EB110, which wears the same funky feature. In one sense it solidifies the link between the two; in another it looks tacked on and dissociative with other attempts to modernize the design.

The same can be said for the brutalist character line rising across the doors—another reference to the edgy haute-’90s EB110, but poorly integrated with the rounded sculpting seen in other angles. Wheels, like the headlights, seem conceptual, although a $9 million ask expands the viability of such fanciful decoration. Blacked-out A-pillars give the greenhouse a visor-like visage, but these days it’s an indistinctive touch.

Moving to the rear, the car ends abruptly, although that’s similar to the Chiron and Divo. Here, though, that’s exacerbated by the fixed spoiler, which, while a clear parallel to the EB110, adds visual height to the blocky back end. The chandelier-like taillight nicely evokes the dotty rectangular openings between the rear lenses of the EB110, while coming in step with the wide light element on the Chiron. Meshes below clearly aid airflow, but louvered vents above seem like a hackneyed throwback attempt. Covering the engine with a glass panel is a break from other modern Bugattis, which proudly display the W-16’s top to open air. We think the double-barrel stacked dual tailpipes are the coolest detail of the Centodieci.

Let us be clear: The Centodieci is cool. Anything so extremely powerful and performant is bound to be, and on looks alone the car will drop jaws. But Bugatti designs have to stand the test of time—the brand’s vehicles are of such rarified air that it must carefully consider the legacy each will leave. After all, today’s Pebble Beach is bejeweled by Bugattis of decades past; the same will be true of contemporary Bugattis in Concours decades to come.

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