FOR more than a decade the Veyron has been the absolute production car high water mark in terms of power and speed. But no longer.
The Chiron – unveiled at the Geneva motor show in early March – boasts 1103kW, which is 25 percent more grunt than even the Veyron Super Sport.
And top speed? Bugatti boss Wolfgang Durheimer is keeping that one a surprise until the Chiron’s testing program is completed later this year, but says it will be faster than the 431km/h Veyron Super Sport, and hints at a V-max north of 440km/h.
Though it shares the same basic vehicle architecture as the Veyron, Bugatti insiders claim the Chiron is 95 percent new.
There’s a new carbonfibre tub, the track has been widened, and the whole lot wrapped in striking new carbonfibre panels designed under the direction of Bugatti design chief Achim Anscheidt.
The 38mm increase in overall width, a slightly lower roofline, pronounced haunches over the rear wheels and a sharply truncated rear end give the Chiron a much more aggressive look than the somewhat dumpy Veyron.
While the vestigial fin that runs down the centreline and arcs over the exposed engine at the rear is an obvious stylistic homage to the iconic Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, Anscheidt says the Chiron’s form follows function.
The dramatic C-line that defines the Chiron’s side view and allows modern two-tone paint schemes that reference classic 1930s Bugatti styles – and 75 percent of Veyrons featured two-tone paint – also hides massive scoops that funnel air into the mighty 8.0-litre W16’s intake and cooling systems.
Similarly, the rear end is designed to help extract as much hot air as possible from the engine compartment.
The extra width means a roomier interior. The Chiron’s pedals are now more in line with the steering column and there’s 12mm more headroom. The
LOUIS Chiron was arguably the world’s bravest flag-waver. For two decades until his death in 1979, the former race ace sent the Monaco Grand Prix field away by strolling across the track, waving his flag and contemptuously dodging missiles roaring past just inches from his increasingly dodgy legs.
But Monaco-born Chiron (pron: sheer-ron) is better known as a hero of the 1920s and ’30s, a regular Grand Prix winner and Bugatti’s first racing superstar. His most famous win was the 1931 Monaco GP, and 24 years later he became the oldest man to race in F1, finishing sixth in his home race at the age of 55.
Chiron was later honoured with a statue at Monaco and an executive role with the GP. Now his name is on the world’s most powerful production car.
C-shaped element between the two seats adds to the structural integrity as well as providing a cool talking point.
Another talking point is an analogue speedo that reads to 500km/h, mounted in the middle of a digital dash; boys of all ages will be left in no doubt as to the Chiron’s performance.
Bugatti engineering chief Willi Netuschil says the upgrade of the four-turbo W16 engine (see breakout) results in precise and linear throttle response. It also gets bigger, better brakes (420mm carbon ceramic composite rotors and single-piece forged calipers with eight titanium pistons up front, and 400mm rotors and forged calipers with six titanium pistons rear), a new electric steering system, Sachs remote reservoir dampers and new Michelin tyres that deliver a 14 percent larger contact patch at the front and 10 percent larger at the rear. Netuschil insists it translates to a car that will be more fun to drive than the stupendously fast, but curiously numb, Veyron.
Bugatti claims a 0-100km/h acceleration time of less than 2.5sec, a 0-300km/h time of less than 15sec, and a top speed of 380km/h in normal driving mode.
Insert the second, go-faster key (as in the Veyron) that sets up the Chiron for ultra highspeed running, lowering the ride height and reducing downforce and drag, and it will reach a computer-limited 420km/h. That’s the velocity to which Michelin will validate the hand-built tyres – 285/30 R20 up front, and 355/25 R21 at the rear – the French company developed for the car.
Durheimer says the Chiron will go even faster, and owners who want to explore the very limits of its performance envelope will be able to do so in Bugatti’s factory demonstrator, or in their own car, to which Bugatti will fit a set of ultra-finely balanced wheels and tyres, and a battery of sensors to be monitored by Bugatti technicians during a V-max run.
If you want to own the fastest, most powerful production car in the world, it will cost you ¤2.4 million ($A3.7m, before taxes). More than 110 customers have already placed orders, handing over a ¤200,000 ($A306,000) deposit, which means the first two years’ production is already sold out.
The current plan is to build 500 Chirons – 50 more than the Veyron – and Durheimer insists that (unlike the Veyron) it will be a profitable project.
Bugatti’s mighty 8.0-litre W16 engine has been upgraded and strengthened to cope with a power boost that is mainly the result of what head of engineering Willi Netuschil calls a doublestaged twin-turbocharger system. One turbo on either side of the block is tuned to deliver low-end torque, and the other pair kicks in above 3250rpm to deliver power. The torque curve builds sharply to 2000rpm, then remains flat all the way to 6700rpm, while the power curve rockets upwards in an almost straight line.