There are worse jobs than official test driver for Bugatti.
There are boring jobs, cool jobs, and there's being a test driver for a supercar manufacturer. Bugatti test driver Steve Jenny has one of the coolest jobs in the world: he is in charge of all final delivery checks, and gets to drive virtually every Bugatti that leaves the Molsheim factory. Bugatti recently celebrated this lucky man by exploring what his role actually means, and to show that being a test driver for one of the world's most exclusive brands is not as easy as it may seem, but definitely as fun. How could it not be when you get to drive the Bugatti Divo before anyone else?
Jenny has always had cars in his blood and built his first rally car right after he got his driver's license. He went on to become a quality inspector for major automotive companies such as Mahle and BBS. When Bugatti was planning its big comeback in 2004 Jenny got a glimpse of the Veyron and was instantly hooked. Soon after, he was hired to develop the company's vehicle inspection department. "Bugatti always demanded that cars must be delivered in perfect condition. A hyper sports car that goes faster than 400 km/h must work perfectly," he says.
Jenny's first ride in a Veyron isn't as romantic as you might think: "I was much too nervous. As a passenger, sitting next to the experienced quality engineer, I had to focus on many technical aspects. So, I wasn't really able to enjoy the ride," says Steve. Every test drive Jenny performs includes driving on motorways, highways and in cities, as well as acceleration, braking and slalom passes on the racetrack. This is the most stringent quality test undertaken by any vehicle manufacturer according to Bugatti. Each test drive takes around five hours and takes place across four driving routes: summer, transition, winter, and analysis. "It's like Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Every tour has its own special moments, but they all fit together perfectly," he says. Rough cobblestone roads are used to test for rattles, both inside and outside, the overall suspension system, and general comfort.
"You have to feel the car with every fiber of your body and interpret its responses correctly. Technical expertise is helpful in this effort, but experience is paramount," he says. For high-speed testing, Jenny drives each car on the closed runway of Colmar airport. Each car is pushed past 200 mph, and all major systems are tested at the limit. Launch control, air brake deployment, heavy braking from 124 mph, and rapid lane changes are all performed here. Each Bugatti is driven between 350 and 750 kilometers before being shipped out. When asked if his job ever gets boring, Jenny responded with a big fat no. "Every day is unique and driving these amazing cars is a source of continuous joy to me," he says. Lucky man!