Take that, Koenigsegg!
Last year, Bugatti hit the headlines after the Chiron achieved an astonishing speed record, hitting 0-249 mph and back to a standstill again in just 41.96 seconds over 1.933 miles. Less than a month later, the Koenigsegg Agera RS beat Bugatti's record, achieving the same run in 36.44 seconds and achieving a top speed 284.55 mph. With both Koenigsegg and Hennessey aiming to beat the 300-mph barrier in a production car with the Jesko and Venom F5, all eyes were on Bugatti to come back fighting.
While CEO Stephan Winkelmann insisted that chasing speed records isn't a priority for the company, Bugatti has announced it is the first manufacturer to break the 300-mile-an-hour barrier. Bragging rights don't get much better than that.
The record was achieved at the Ehra-Lessien test track in Lower Saxony, Germany, where a "near production prototype derivative" of the Chiron reached a speed of 304.773 mph, setting a new world record. "What a record! We're overjoyed to be the first manufacturer ever to have achieved a speed of more than 300 miles per hour. It's a milestone for eternity. I would like to thank the whole team and driver Andy Wallace for this outstanding performance," said Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti.
The Chiron was driven by Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace, who famously set a 240 mph speed record in a McLaren F1. He worked his way up to the top speed from 186 mph in 30 mph increments to ensure the conditions were right and and the Chiron's lift and downforce was optimally balanced. After the first lap, Wallace then accelerated out of the north curve to 186 mph to reach top speed on the 5.4-mile straight. At a "precisely defined braking point", the Chiron decelerated back to 186 mph to drive through the south bend. He had a distance of 1.24 miles to achieve this.
The record-breaking hypercar was created in collaboration with Bugatti engineers, Michelin, and Dallara. According to Top Gear, it took six months to build. Compared to the standard Chiron, it measures 9.84 inches longer and has a significantly lower ride height to reduce drag. The Chiron's high-speed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires were also reinforced to handle 5,300 G at 300 mph but are still street legal. They were also subjected to extensive test bench trials at speeds of up to 317 mph in the US.
The long tail has a reduced cross-section to enhance the aerodynamics and reduce drag, while the extended tailpipes project the exhaust emissions as far from the rear as possible, reducing their effect on drag and aero. As a result, it looks even more menacing than the regular Chiron. The rear wing and airbrake have also been removed and replaced with a static unit recessed into the tail, and the interior has been stripped out to save extra weight. It's more powerful than the standard Chiron, too, as the 8.0-liter, quad-turbo W16 unit, nicknamed Thor, has been tuned to produce 1,578 horsepower, but the gearbox and all-wheel-drive system was left stock.
"Now Bugatti was the first to exceed the 300-mile-per-hour mark. An incredible achievement that shows what the men and women of Bugatti are capable of. But this was the last time for us. Bugatti was the first to exceed 300-mile-per-hour – its name will go down in the history books and it will stay that way forever," Winkelmann added.
"This world record once again shows that Bugatti still builds the fastest cars in the world. But our hyper sports cars are capable of more. They offer absolute exclusivity, luxury, unmatched beauty and a high level of automotive craftsmanship. The Bugatti is the only hyper sports car that combines all of these characteristics in one vehicle. We will concentrate even more on this in the future in the context of further exciting projects,"