Feature Widescreen

Brand X: Bugatti BgR-79 flying vehicle from Elysium (Neil Blomkamp, 2013)

elysium craft

Is the new Bugatti BgR-79 worth the wait? ExecAir Review takes her up and tests her out.

Although Bugatti is the name in medium-haul, exo-atmospheric shuttles, the marque comes late to the crowded S3H (Single Seat, Short Hop) market. Fiercely competitive, with the likes of Mercedes-Dornier, Bombardier Aerospace and Saab all well established, the firm’s decision to launch its own vehicle surprised many although its purchase of a 35% stake in the well-regarded SprintAvia design company last fall signalled movement toward this arena. What, then, to make of the result?

The beautifully slippery hull shape holds livery well – black and maroon with chrome detail in our example. This is luxury for the Eastasian and Pan America market, yes, but the BgR-79 could hold its own in the Old World too. The high, rear-mounted wing gives good clearance for the single gull-wing door to the executive saloon on the starboard side and that for the crew cabin to port; their asymmetric design is a pleasing touch of individuality.

A fully automatic power-assisted seat in the former eases boarding even further, with Bugatti’s patented Comfort Curve restraint and relaxation technology embracing you perfectly. Our interior was richly upholstered in butter-soft maroon hide, though a wide range of options is available. There is a surprising amount of storage given the model’s compact size. The standard comms and work suite provided – satnet, iAVE, telepresence – is perfectly functional, though Bugatti expect most purchasers to specify their own or take advantage of the many after-market suppliers. A defence and protection system is also offered for high-threat environments, including laser and missile countermeasures, ballistic shielding and Cocoon safety and escape cell. The comprehensive flight management system includes manual (human/robot), command (including remote) or pre-programmed modes, with emergency assistance and autopilot reversion for each.

Once fired up, that door closing with a satisfying sound, our unmanned test flight began with a flawless, near silent jump-off that showed the Rolls-Royce powerpack to good effect. As we moved through the climb out progression was insistent but controlled. A couple of sharp turns and one strong pull-up, accomplished with minimum kick or skip, demonstrated the integration of airframe, engine and controls that is such a feature of Bugatti’s larger aircraft. Flight was flight was effortless and transition smooth. At the end of the session touch-down was almost un-noticeable, with the automatic lighting changes, seat adjustment and door opening a nice touch.

Of course a ten-minute loop at 5000 metres altitude on a closed circuit means we never truly pressed the BgR-79, but the model has speed and punch whilst leaving the passenger unperturbed. And more than that, it simply feels right. With a good range and decent equipment fit, it’s a very solid package that puts Bugatti front and centre with the rest.

By Chris Rogers

Chris Rogers writes on architecture and visual culture, including film, television and design. His first book, The Power of Process – the architecture of Michael Pearson, was published in 2010 and he recently wrote the information pack for a new school under construction in the London 2012 Olympic Park for its architects. Chris has contributed to The Architects' Journal and files reviews for Art of England magazine. Chris is trying to find time to start his second book so in the meantime his work, including pieces on John McTiernan, Michael Mann and Joe Ahearne, can be found on his website.

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