Time will tell if Bugatti has rewritten the rulebook, like it did with the Veyron, but the Chiron’s numbers are truly frightening. The 8.0-liter, quad-turbo W16 motor still sits behind the two-seat cabin, however now it is making 1,478 hp. The Chiron will be the most powerful production street car the world has ever seen.
The dramatic Chiron styling was led by design boss Achim Anscheidt. While attention to detail is easy to come by when you’re asked to design an all-new car once a decade, the Chiron has unique issues, most notably the torture of surfacing by the high-speed air. Anscheidt insisted the design team worked unusually closely with the engineering and aerodynamics teams to retain the visual punch without losing any aero efficiency.
The W16 will feature a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with 1,180 pound-feet of torque. The turbos are larger, and are capable of squeezing in more air at higher pressures and the entire breathing and cooling system is all new. The turbochargers are operated in a two-stage configuration. To ensure maximum acceleration from a standstill without the “turbo lag” feared by sports car drivers, the Chiron moves off the mark with only two turbochargers in operation. The other two units are only activated at about 3,800 rpm. As a result, the two-stage turbocharging delivers an absolutely linear power curve from 2,000 rpm, huge torque in the low engine speed range and a power output that can be controlled and dosed rather well full horsepower is delivered at 6,700 rpm.
There’s a new carbon-fiber inlet manifold, six catalytic converters and a titanium exhaust system that reduces the back pressure.
The Chiron retains the Veyron’s all-wheel-drive layout, though this time it uses an electronically controlled multi-plate center differential with torque vectoring to deliver power to whichever end of the car can make the best use of it. The coupe also has torque vectoring on the rear axle, giving it the unique capability of “Drift Mode”.
The seven-speed dual-clutch is a development of the Veyron’s Ricardo-built unit, with alloy paddle-shifters on the steering wheel for manual use, and there’s now an electro-mechanical steering system. The air suspension improves high-speed body control without hurting the ride quality, with everything rolling on custom Michelin 285/30ZR20 front and 355/25ZR21 rear tires. The air suspension is fully adaptive for bump and rebound, however it also lets Bugatti give the Chiron variable ride height, depending on the task at hand. Those tasks range from five preset modes, which include Lift (for keeping the nose out of trouble over gutters and speed bumps), Auto, Autobahn, Handling, and Top Speed.
The Chiron runs up to a limited top speed of 261 miles per hour. With the Veyron already at the limits of longitudinal acceleration, Bugatti says only that the Chiron will crunch through to 62 mph in less than 2.5 seconds. However perhaps what is more frightening is that the Chiron will accelerate from 0-124 mph in less than 6.5 seconds. Or that it charges from 0-186 mph in 13.5 seconds, a full three seconds quicker than the original Veyron.
Bugatti insists the stopping power is astonishing, pulling the Chiron back to zero from 62 mph in 103 feet, from 124 mph in 410 feet, and from 186 mph in 902 feet. This comes from bigger 16.5-inch front and 15.7-inch rear carbon-ceramic rotors, clamped by eight-piston front and six-piston rear calipers.
While the size is roughly similar to the Veyron (the wheelbase is just one millimeter longer), Bugatti insists the Chiron is an entirely new car. It uses an all-new carbon-fiber chassis tub, with a honeycomb sandwich floor section to help with sound and vibration insulation. The Chiron is about 340 pounds heavier than the Veyron, with Bugatti claiming 4,400 pounds. It is a large car. It’s three inches longer than the Veyron and two inches taller, while being an inch and a half wider. That extra width is used to give the two-seat Chiron extra footwell space and another half inch of headroom.
Bugatti has once again limited the Chiron to a production run of just 500 cars and, before you ask, it’ll take $2.6 million in spare change to secure one. However Bugatti says it already has an order bank of 150 cars.