Warp Speed – Bugatti Chiron

The Bugatti Chiron has an exceptional pedigree.

By Richard Kollins

Throughout automotive history, no other manufacturer has as deep family roots than those of Bugatti. Ettore Bugatti was the grandson of Giovanni Bugatti, a respected architect and sculptor in both metal and wood, who also expanded into tool making. He made his home on the outskirts of Milan, Italy — one of the most notable places for craftsmanship.

Ettore’s father, Carlo, was an architect, engraver, cabinetmaker, painter, and sculptor. This lineage of skills supported Ettore as he became interested in mechanics and was followed by his building of winning Grand Prix cars and luxury classics. Surviving World War II, Bugatti production declined and ultimately ceased. The Bugatti name was resurrected, eventually becoming part of Volkswagen, and the Veyron model was commissioned as being the fastest road-going car ever built.

It was the new Bugatti Chiron —  which made its world premiere at the 86th 2016 Geneva International Motor Show in March — that’s turning heads as the replacement for the outgoing Veyron models, who had been committed to a ten-year production run. While both cars are named after famed Bugatti racing drivers — Pierre Veyron and Louis Chiron, respectively — the differences start to unfold.

Even at first view, the front end stares you down with its aggressive quad LED headlamps and business-like grillwork, then seduces your attention to the voluptuous side view. The exaggerated C-shaped curve that starts at the A-pillar, then gracefully falls to the rear wheel before circling back to the front wheel, is obviously inspired by the famed Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic — perhaps that ‘C’ is an added homage to ‘Chiron.’ The must-have two-tone color scheme softly embellishes Chiron’s compound curves.

19_chiron_steering-wheel-side_printOnce inside, the Bugatti Chiron features minimalistic design, with dials and controls that are both futuristic and aesthetically proper. The gauge pod is accessorized with a carbon-fiber flat-bottom steering wheel that matches the exposed carbon-fiber dashboard trim. The final blending of the finest leather and metal trim is the perfect balance of elegance, function, and modernism. Like a fine wine, quality can portray the finest. But design is what can set an interior apart and make it original. Perhaps the digital displays inside the climate-control dials can be likened to the Audi TT, but they are far more sophisticated on the Bugatti. The digital readouts can easily be changed from climate controls to driving data — fluid temperatures, fuel, gear selection, and speed information. And there are no clumsy infotainment centers to clutter your space.

The company’s policy is that if customers have special wishes concerning colors or materials — which is rather the rule than the exception at Bugatti — the designers and engineers will do everything in their power to take these requests under consideration. If a customer specifies carbon neutral Alcantara trim, or gold-plated adornments, Bugatti will make it happen

A new carbon-fiber chassis has been developed for the Chiron that meets LMP1 (LeMans prototype racing) structural standards. When married to the carbon-fiber outer-body panels, the result is the strongest street cockpit available, while retaining its alluring design features. Such overkill engineering features may seem meaningless until you realize the results of the whole package — power and speed.

For power, Bugatti took the outgoing Veyron’s overly rambunctious, 8.0-liter W16 engine, massaged every part, and increased the power output to 1,480 horsepower in street trim. Yes, you are reading this correctly. That is perhaps 10 times the power output of an average small sedan. Like the Veyron, the massive engine is mated to a fast-shifting seven-speed transmission. Road holding is controlled by full-time all-wheel drive and bespoke Michelin tires.

For speed, Bugatti has kindly limited you to 261 mph for tire durability in top speed “power mode.” Unconfirmed whisperings of 285 unrestricted top speeds are obtainable, yet don’t take my word for it. There is also a “handling mode” — which limits you to 236 mph — with stability wings operating for better control at speed.

There are only 500 Chirons destined to be built. If you are lucky, perhaps a special enhanced version might arrive with even more power and speed. Yes, there are other hyper-cars on the market, yet none are appointed with the grandeur that only Bugatti can offer.

The entry fee for the Bugatti Chiron is $2.6 million, a car that can make you feel like you’re piloting your own jet and driving almost faster than the speed of sound.

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