by John Tallodi
When it arrived in 2005, the Bugatti Veyron was a car of superlative power figures and unassailable acceleration numbers. Challenging the established leaders in such a brash way was always going to result in a backlash and there have been numerous attempts to dethrone the performance king.
Instead of resting on its numerous world records, Bugatti delivered another knockout blow with the unveiling of the Chiron, the ultra-coupe that raises the performance stakes once again.
The Veyron could hardly be criticized for a lack of quality materials in its cabin but the Chiron raises the bar with a combination of stylish design elements and even more sumptuous interior fittings. Real silver, aluminum and carbon-fiber is used for switches, buttons and panels.
The seats still offer a multitude of settings and the comfort levels are high. You sit low in the Chiron and while forward visibility is good, you will not see much out the rear without the aid of the rearview camera.
Storage space is not really a strong point, with few places to store loose items in the cabin. But there is a cooled glove box. A few items can be stored behind the seats and in the front trunk too.
One criticism frequently leveled at the Veyron was a lackof driver involvement so Bugatti’s engineers have gone to great lengths to imbue the Chiron with a more responsive helm and interactivity.
The result is that the Chiron now feels a lot less like a rocket-powered Audi TT and a lot more like a tactile sports car. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the immense power on tap but the Chiron is now far sharper than before.
The excellent grip levels and complex traction control systems help keep less able drivers out of trouble but now you can adjust the Chiron’s attitude mid-corner and you get more of a sense of what the front wheels are doing.
The ride quality in its softest setting is very pliant and the quad-turbo engine quietens to a background murmur when not being pushed. As a result, the Chiron is one of the most useable hypercars in production.
With so many overpowered hypercars vying for attention at the top of the automotive food chain, the Chiron had to produce some serious numbers to maintain the status quo and it features a heavily revised 8-liter 16-cylinder quad-turbo engine which now produces 1,500 horsepower and 1,180 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission sends this immense force to an all-wheel drive system.
The 0-60 mph time of around 2.5-seconds is eyeball-flattening but it's when the speed rises that that additional power makes itself felt, with the Chiron pulling out a meaningful gap over most competitors by the time it passes 200 mph.
The ‘top speed’ mode is still present in the Chiron and requires a second key to unlock the 261mph (limited by available tire technology) top end potential.
While few would yearn for more power, the Chiron’s speed records are already under threat by rivals like the Koenigsegg Agera RS.
Regardless, the Chiron remains a technological tour-de-force and while the headline figures may inevitably be eclipsed, matching its effortless nature and usability will take some doing.
Fuel consumption figures are not officially listed but make sure notto venture too far from a gas station if you plan to do some spirited driving.
The Chiron comes equipped with just about everything one could reasonably expect and a few unreasonable options too.
Some notable features include one-carat diamond membranes built into the four tweeters, multi-configurable TFT screens in the dashboard and full LED lighting inside and out.
Customizability extends to just about every facet of the vehicle and bespoke colors inside and out are available as well as specialized trim and interior finishes based on each customer’s preferences.
The Chiron enters a far more competitive market than its predecessor faced and were it to be merely a collection of superlative power and performance figures, it would soon become just another fast car footnote.
Happily, the Chiron is so much more than just the most powerful production car on the road. It now offers real driving involvement along with the massive performance and it still retains that effortless drivability that set the Veyron apart from the competition. With a production run of a mere 500 units, and a massive price tag, exclusivity is guaranteed.