Here comes the faster, more powerful Chiron
Bugatti Chiron costs Euro 2.4 million ($2.6 million), has 1,500 horsepower,
and tops out at 420 Kmh (261 mph)When Ferdinand Piëch decreed the Bugatti Veyron would be built, his brief to the engineers was simple: The car had to have more than 1,000 hp; it had to be able to accelerate to 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds; it had to have a top speed of 402 Kmh (250 mph); and he had to be able to drive Mrs. Piëch to the opera in it in the evening. Piëch’s brief for the Veyron’s successor, the Chiron, was even simpler: It had to be better than the Veyron. No pressure, then.
Indeed. For more than a decade the Bugatti Veyron has been the hypercar benchmark in terms of sheer power and raw speed, with the 2010 Super Sport version boasting 1,200 hp and a V-max of 431 Kmh (268 mph). And while a couple of rivals are now nibbling at the margins, the Veyron has remained the world’s fastest, most powerful fully street-legal production car. Until now.
Let’s cut to the chase: Bugatti engineers are keeping the actual numbers under wraps for now; however, they will admit the Chiron will accelerate to 96 Kmh (60 mph) in less than 2.5 seconds, with 0-300 kmh (0-186 mph) taking less than 15 seconds. It will do 379 Kmh (236 mph) in normal nanny mode. Insert the second, go-faster key that, as in the Veyron, sets up the car for ultra-high-speed running, lowering the ride height and reducing downforce and drag, and the Chiron will hit a computer-limited 261 mph.
You read that right. The Bugatti Chiron is limited to 420 kmh (261 mph). It will go even faster, and for those owners who want to go to the very edge of the performance envelope, Bugatti will help them do it, either in a factory-owned car or the owners’ own Chiron, either fitted with a set of special, ultra-finely balanced wheels and tires, plus a battery of additional sensors to be monitored by factory technicians during the V-max run. And V-max is? The Bugatti boys demur, but drop enough hints to suggest 300 Kmh (275 mph) or more.
Bugatti engineers admit the Chiron will accelerate to 100 kmh (60 mph) in less than 2.5 seconds.
At least that’s what the computer simulations say. At the time of writing—late January—no one had actually taken a Chiron above 402 Kmh (250 mph). “We are approaching the 402 Kmh (250-mph) barrier very carefully because that speed is a big stress for all components on the car,” says Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer. “You need to be very advanced in the car’s development so the test drivers can do a professional job without risking their lives.”
Dürheimer insists the data shows the Chiron will break the 431 Kmh (268-mph) two-way production car world record set by the Veyron Super Sport, and even the 435 Kmh (270.49 mph) set one way by John Hennessey’s Venom GT. “And not by just 1 mph,” he says emphatically. Final high-speed testing will be completed at VW‘s Ehra-Lessien track this spring before the first production Chirons are delivered in August, wrapping up a development program that will have covered more than 482.800 Km (300,000 miles) on test tracks and open roads.
Although it shares much of the same basic vehicle architecture as the Veyron, from the mighty mid-mounted, 8.0-liter W-16 engine with its seven-speed dual-clutch transmission mounted at the front of the block to the all-wheel-drive system, Bugatti engineering chief Willi Netuschil claims 95 percent of the Chiron is new. Compared with a Veyron it is slightly wider, slightly longer, and—discounting the fin on the roof—slightly lower, but it weighs about the same.
“The Chiron will do 379 Kmh (236 mph) in nanny mode and hit a computer-limited 420 Kmh (261 mph) with a second key”.
The heart of the Chiron is an evolution of the Veyron Super Sport engine, reworked and strengthened to deliver a 25 percent increase in power and a 5 percent increase in torque. The numbers? Try 1,500 hp at 6,700 rpm, and a weapons-grade 1,165 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 6,700 rpm. The reason for the power and torque increases is auto engineering 101: There’s simply more air going through all 16 cylinders.
It starts with the design. The front half of the Chiron’s body tapers noticeably inward aft of the front wheels, which means the dramatic C-line that arcs all the way from the base of the A-pillar and swoops around behind the cockpit is able to cleverly hide a series of massive scoops. The big W-16 breathes deeply from intakes above the line that carries forward through to the door aperture from the pronounced haunch in the rear fenders, taking full advantage of the powerful laminar airflow streaming around the A-pillars.
Unlike the Veyron’s rounded rump, the rear end of the Chiron is sharply truncated with a distinctive single light bar bisecting a swath of mesh. The idea, says Bugatti’s head of design, Achim Anscheidt, is to create a low-pressure area at the rear of the car that helps suck hot air out from the engine compartment. Exhaust gases exit via a massive titanium exhaust system that features six 3.2-inch outlets, the outer two of which exit downward to create an F1-style blown diffuser that increases downforce at speed.
In between is what Netuschil calls a double-staged twin-turbocharger system. In simple terms, it’s basically a progressive quad-turbo setup with one turbo on either side of the block tuned to deliver low-end torque and the other pair kicking in above 3,250 rpm to deliver power. The system results in one of the most remarkable power and torque graphs you’ll ever see. The torque curve builds sharply to 2,000 rpm and then remains flatter than Kansas all the way to 6,700 rpm. Meanwhile, the power curve rockets upward in a near-vertiginous straight line to 6,700 rpm. The result, says Netuschil, is throttle response that is uncannily precise and linear. “It makes the car very easy to control,” he says. And that points to how the Chiron is going to differ most from the Veyron. It is, the men from Bugatti insist, going to be a lot more fun to drive.
As a result, the Chiron is fitted with an all-new braking system. Up front are giant 16.5-inch carbon-ceramic composite rotors and single-piece forged calipers with four pads—two per side—and eight titanium pistons. A shroud fitted to the front axle helps draw cooling air through system. At the rear the rotors measure 15.7 inches, and the forged calipers have six titanium pistons.
A lot of attention has been paid to improving front-end grip and response. The all-new carbon-fiber monocoque is stiffer, and the revised, wider-track front suspension features new rubber and steel bushes. Steering is by way of a new ZF EPS system, and external reservoir Sachs dampers are fitted all around. Michelin developed an all-new tire for the Chiron that delivers a 14 percent bigger contact patch up front and 10 percent bigger at the rear. Incidentally, these hand-built meats—285/30R20 up front, and 355/25R21 at the rear—are certified to 420 Kmh (261 mph).
“The lateral grip has increased dramatically,” Dürheimer says. “You can make an abrupt lane change at up to 379 Kmh (236 mph), and the car reacts immediately and absolutely predictably. You feel your cheeks being pulled out when you do because the lateral acceleration you can create with these tires and the downforce is like in a race car.” But will it drift? “Oh, yes,” engineer Netuschil grins.
You can make an abrupt lane change at up to 379 Kmh (236 mph), and the car reacts immediately. …
You feel your cheeks being pulled out when you do.
You feel your cheeks being pulled out when you do.
Cynics will see the Bugatti Chiron as little more than an utterly pointless toy for the very, very rich. But in an era when you can buy a 707-hp, 328 Kmh (204-mph) sedan in a Dodge showroom, a car that unambiguously stakes its claim as the fastest, most powerful production vehicle ever built should be celebrated. It’s a bit like painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, like climbing Everest, like sending a man to the moon. VW Group has built the Bugatti Chiron for one simple reason: Because it can.