The Devel Sixteen - Beyond 300mph...
A while ago we wrote about What Happens at 300mph, which explored the problems and limitations facing hyper car manufacturers in their quest to best a truly astounding speed. Breaking through this barrier in a road legal car is a monumental feat of engineering, and worthy of recognition if and when someone succeeds in achieving it.
The Devel Sixteen, named for the V16 engine shoehorned into a lengthened mid-engined set up, has declared it will not only achieve this milestone speed, but smash it to pieces by hitting 350mph – that’s almost 100mph faster than the original Bugatti Veyron reached at 253mph.
According to their website, the Devel Sixteen was first conceptualised back in 2006 – very shortly after the Veyron came into being in 2005, which no doubt proved to be a major source of inspiration and a target to beat.
Since then speedy progress hasn’t been forthcoming. This is largely understandable when you consider Devel are only a start-up firm from Dubai and are attempting to one up just about every established hypercar manufacturer out there, including Bugatti themselves.
Research and development started in earnest in 2008, and between then and 2013 a prototype was produced and unveiled at that years Dubai International Motor Show.
Without being unkind, this first prototype is pretty much what you would expect from a start-up trying to make a splash – and the design inevitably crossed the line from being cool into looking cheap and very plastic.
Odd clefts in the nose, exhaust nozzles looking like lids straight off of marker pens, and an ugly rear spoiler - it’s almost not even necessary to mention the resemblance to a Batmobile cliché. Almost.
If it wasn’t for the truly staggering speed and power claims no one would have paid any notice - but if there’s one thing that will grasp the attention it’s making a claim that is almost too good to be true.
Those offending exhaust ports and spoiler on the original Devel Sixteen prototype.
The wild claim tactic is a careful balancing act. It crucially must be close enough to the realms of possibility to not be dismissed out of hand and forgotten almost instantly, but far enough out there to pique everyone’s curiosity and provoke a response.
Even if that response is nothing more than derision, it has at least gained their attention and got them talking about it. Devel most certainly achieved this when they started throwing out their top speed and peak power numbers.
A top speed of close to 350mph and peak power output of over 5000hp will get anyone noticed, and had everyone asking the same question – how?
These are performance figures typically the reserve of dragsters, and curiously this is what the top spec Devel Sixteen is actually aspiring to be. The hot desert sands of Dubai have seen drag racing steadily increasing in popularity among its overly wealthy inhabitants and visitors.
The monstrous 5000hp version is aimed squarely at customers whose only concern is straight line pace, and there will be few cars capable of rivalling the Devel Sixteen top speed if it ever comes to fruition.
At the 2017 Dubai Motor Show in November we were treated to the re-design of the Sixteen, now referred to as the production version. Perhaps indicating it will to be close to what the finished car will look like, despite still being a concept itself.
The new design is a drastic improvement on the original, no doubt thanks to the work of Italy’s Manifattura Automobili Torino, with superior aesthetics in every department barring the interior (concept still in development).
From the more coherent nose, along the smoother lines of the body work, over the sculpted intakes, past the flowing and seemingly endless engine bay, before reaching one of the key design elements in the form of the oversized exhaust ports.
A new colour scheme truly made it stand out and the whole car looks a world away from the plastic pretender of the past.
It must be said a finished car is still a very long way off. The limitations of current technology in propelling a car to 300mph are well known, so it’s no surprise many are sceptical as to whether Devel will ever overcome these problems.
The issue of creating tyres capable of staying intact at those speeds, or even simply maintaining traction during acceleration to convert all that horsepower into linear motion is of particular interest, given what other manufacturers have said previously about tyres being their greatest obstacle.
The comments of Chief Engineer Paolo Garella, formerly of Pininfarina, about the Sixteen in general made for interesting reading.
When discussing the problems of air flow over the rear end of the car he touched on the subject of the radiators and how critical their placement would be due to the tremendous heat dissipation demands created by the 16 cylinder engine.
The problem with radiators is they need air to work, and channelling air over them creates drag. Extra drag needs more power to overcome – power which creates more heat and needs more cooling, it’s an endless cycle.
Exactly how they will cool the engine and overcome the almighty drag coefficients incurred as a result of that cooling is a big question, and is likely the reasoning behind needing so much horsepower in the first place.
Garella as good as confirms this as he goes on to state the power requirement needed go from sub 310mph to beyond increases by a massive 60% as the air turbulence increases drag so substantially.
That Devel haven’t yet solved this problem, or addressed the tyre issue, is what turns questions about how they will succeed into genuine doubts about their ability to deliver a car that lives up to their claims at all.
Bugatti have had around a decade head start on them and haven’t been sat idle. That they have not yet developed a solution to these problems (or at least divulged that they have a solution) makes you wonder what magic potion Devel think they have – or will have.
Paying For The Privilege
They certainly need to have something as they’ve already set the Devel Sixteen price. In fact there will be three levels of performance spec for speedsters.
The entry level will have an LS V8 engine generating 1500 horsepower and available for the princely sum of $1.6m. For just $200k more you get another LS V8 engine slapped onto the first to create a V16, supposedly capable of hitting 320mph at 3000hp.
The top spec is meant for track/drag racing and swaps out parts for harder wearing components, capable of withstanding the sheer power of its 5000hp engine as it propels the car to 350mph through almost brute force alone. This option will also cost another $200k on top to bring the final ticket total to $2m.
These prices are either on par with their competition, like Koenigsegg, or significantly cheaper than them, like Bugatti – whose new Chiron comes in at $2.6m.
Will it be worth it? That depends on whether you believe Devel can actually develop the necessary technology to deliver a car that reaches close to 350mph or not.