Long after the heat of the moment, I attain the highway in rural Portugal and look at the Bugatti Chiron’s center console. As the engine cools and the carbon silicon carbide brake rotors start to dissipate heat, the onboard computer’s telemetry reveals some staggering figures: A peak speed of 377 km/h, with the quad-turbocharged W16 squeezing a max of 1,466 horsepower at 6,691 rpm.
Am I now drive a car or fly a plane? The mind-boggling brain shuffle of Bugatti’s latest land rocket cannot be quiet, even when placed in context against the now-defunct Veyron. In ultimate Super Sport trim, the Veyron produced a stunning 1,200 (metric) Horsepower. The Chiron’s leap to 1,500 ponies needed considerable development, testing and re-engineering. That exhaustive process saw vital challenges, even late in the game.
Consider the high-speed testing incident in South Africa: Despite extensive test-bench work, real-world driving revealed that the immense exhaust heat was melting the rear bumper and nearly igniting the car. The solution, it turns out, was to add a duct so air flow from the underbody might channel through and diffuse the heat. Hashtag: #1500HorsepowerProblems.
Bugatti Chiron Features
For the 500 wealthy souls who can take delivery, the $2,998,000 Chiron is most certainly an emotional purchase. But it’s backed by a battery of left-brain thinking aimed at creating it a faster, smoother, more involving car than its famously controversial predecessor.
For starters, only 5 % of the engine’s parts are retained from the Veyron, the bulk of the new parts getting strengthened, lightened, and re-engineered to better deal with the thermal demands of the heightened output. The four turbochargers are 68 % larger and currently work sequentially thus the first set will facilitate a torsion plateau between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm.
The larger, second set of turbos extend the flat line to 6,600 rpm. The seven-speed gearbox manufactured by Ricardo, which is essentially the only dry-sump dual-clutch on the production car market, has been strengthened and reinforced to withstand the engine’s thumping 1,180 pound-feet of torsion.
From the driver’s seat, the initial impression is entirely digestible: A press of the blue, steering-wheel-mounted Engine button summons all sixteen cylinders and the sound, at least inside the cabin, isn’t as intimidating as you may expect. Those on the outside, however, are hit by a deep, hearty holler from the Chiron’s six exhaust pipes.
Compared to the Veyron, this cockpit has been cleansed up and streamlined, trading numerous analog gauges on the instrument cluster for one big speedometer needle that sweeps all the way to 300 mph (or 500 km/h, depending on the country it’s built for). 3 configurable TFTs provide extra information, including a tachometer, a trip computer, and vehicle settings.
Bugatti Chiron Performance
The transmission downshifts for Bugatti Chiron somewhat unsteadily at low speeds, however above parking-lot speeds the cog swaps are sleek and quite fast, especially considering the heft of the gearbox’s moving parts and the huge amounts of torsion they must handle.
The Chiron delivers apparently a lot of splanchnic and responsiveness reward compared to the Veyron, and in Handling mode it tackles corners with a taut, glued-down sense of focus. And then there’s that speed run, the surprisingly brief however immensely intense burst of acceleration that sends my steed hurtling towards the horizon on a apparently unstoppable tear.
Thanks to the mechanically lowered ride height and aggressive downforce, the car stays firmly planted on the road. I (predictably) run out of room all too shortly and have to punch the brakes, returning to sane(r) speeds. But when I later learn of the 377 km/h speed, the figure becomes scorched into my brain.
The Chiron was still pulling hard at that speed, suggesting it has far larger reserves than the published top speed of 420 km/h (or 261 mph) – and in fact, it does. As Bugatti President Wolfgang Dürheimer emphasises, the car is electronically limited to 420 km/h to save room for a quicker variant that may leave this landmark in the dust, which can turn yet another groundbreaker into a late, great legend.