► Successor to the Bugatti Veyron costs £2.4m
► 1479bhp from quad turbo W16
► Limited to 261mph, potential for 280mph+
The Bugatti Chiron is the replacement for the Veyron, the 250mph missile that rewrote the hypercar rulebook back when we first drove it back in 2005. Compared to that original mould-breaking Veyron, the Chiron has half as much power again, and at £2.4m, costs twice as much.
£2.4m! That’s definitely the world’s most expensive facelift.
I see what you’re getting at, but Bugatti claims this is a new car in its own right. The carbon chassis is new, the quad-turbo W16 is massively reworked, and now features a two-stage turbo setup, and the aero package…
…sorry, but can we just skip to the full throttle bit?
My apologies. Basically there are quick cars, very quick cars and then there’s the Chiron. Our test car didn’t have the launch control feature activated, but we were able to do rolling runs again and again and again because, well, that’s what you do when someone gives you the keys to a 1500bhp car.
Dip into the throttle for the first time, even just half throttle, and your eyes widen, the moisture drains from your throat and you can feel your hands instinctively squeeze tighter on a steering wheel that stays dead calm throughout the whole experience.
The Veyron’s slurpy turbo noise was one of its weakest features, but the Chiron sounds much better, growling suavely as it pushes you into your seat. But it’s not the initial kick in the back that amazes. It’s that it never subsides. What felt fast below 4000rpm becomes truly shocking when the second pair of turbos is fully up to speed. So forget the ordinarily impressive 2.5sec 0-62mph time. It’s the 6.5sec to 124 and 13.6sec it takes to reach 186mph that really highlights how crazily fast this car is.
13.6sec to 186mph? Where does this madness all end?
We can’t be sure, not until Bugatti goes for a proper top speed attempt next year in a car without a speed limiter. Currently all customer cars are limited to 261mph, although that’s in low drag mode, which is accessed by inserting a second ‘speed’ key down next to the driver’s side sill.
Without the speed key, the aero is set up for more stability, but more drag, and you’re limited to just under 240mph. Which is still ample, particularly since you can do it just about anywhere. We hit an indicated 217mph on a straight bit of motorway shorter than your average oil sheik’s driveway.
Do oil sheiks and warlords not like corners?
They’ll like them a lot more when they trade in their Veyrons for Chirons. Despite a switch to electric power steering, and despite a gargantuan 1995kg kerb weight, the Chiron is actually a pretty engaging companion on a cross-country strop.
The steering is on the muted side of feelsome compared to something like a McLaren, but it’s sensibly geared so as never to feel nervous and nicely weighted in the automatic (EB) driving mode. Switch to Handling mode using the steering wheel rotary dial and you gain a little too much steering heft, but a noticeable improvement in body control.
Find yourself a fast, flowing and hopefully police-free A-road and the Chiron is in its element, sweeping effortlessly between corners and shrinking the bits between them to almost nothing. The brakes – eight-piston on the front, and six- at the back – are epic too.
Anything else in its repertoire besides putting you at a high risk of a lengthy jail sentence every time you get behind the wheel?
Well, the ride is exceptionally good at normal speeds given the stability the chassis has to provide at almost 300mph. That’s partly down to new Michelin tyres and also a switch to adaptive dampers. It’s also incredibly easy to drive and now has a small boot in the nose for a rolling bag. If not for the abysmal turning circle, it’d be as user-friendly as a TT.
But even Audi couldn’t dream of doing an interior this special. There’s almost no plastic anywhere. Everything you can see and touch is aluminium, carbonfibre or leather. The steering wheel is made out of one massive chunk of billet, for heaven’s sake, the badge is made out of real silver and the audio tweeters contain actual diamonds.
Yes, it’s a lot of money for any car, and from a purely dynamic point of view, you could have an awful lot of fun in a McLaren 675LT for almost a tenth of the price.
Not that Chiron customers will care. They’ve probably already got an LT along with just about every other fast car you can currently buy. They have an average of 47 cars – plus three jets, three helicopters and a yacht. But to placate any money-conscious millionaires out there, Bugatti has halved the cost of the tyre replacement, to a bargain £9000 per set.
The Chiron is monstrously rapid, more engaging to drive and constructed from even finer materials than the Veyron, but you can’t help feeling that it doesn’t quite move the goalposts in the same way its predecessor did a decade ago. Which isn’t to say it isn’t an absolute joy. And not just when you’re bringing yourself to the brink of bringing up your dinner. It’s just as good at going slowly, and even when you’re stopped dead in traffic, the incredible craftsmanship gives it the sense of occasion you simply don’t get in other hypercars. If we were billionaires, we’d definitely be making a Chiron car number 48 in our (hangar-sized) garage.