Eight engineers set out to fine-tune what should be the best-handling Bugatti yet.
Ever since the original Bugatti Veyron was launched in the mid 2000s, the French automaker has been associated with straight-line speed more than perhaps any other brand. After all, that car hit 60 mph in well under three seconds and reached a top speed of over 250 mph - and this was 15 years ago. What the Veyron didn't do was set new benchmarks for handling or agility, and that's where the 2021 Chiron Pur Sport comes in.
Bugatti wants to show the world that not only can it build the fastest sports car in the world, but one that is genuinely fun to go carving through a twisty mountain pass. After weeks under lockdown, the Chiron Pur Sport is now finally back on track for further fine-tuning. The testers chose Bilster Berg circuit in Teutoburg Forest, Germany, as their location, and why not? Nine right turns, 10 left turns, and nearly 50 crests and dips ensure it has a bit of everything.
The challenging circuit provides a stern test of the Chiron Pur Sport's chassis and handling, but also allows the team to assess how its tires and gearbox hold up in a track environment. "This is crucial for development because the Chiron Pur Sport is set up for maximum performance and lateral dynamics," explained Stefan Ellrott, Head of Development at Bugatti. "With the Chiron Pur Sport, we're pursuing a more extreme and radical development approach. It's the perfect car for all those drivers who enjoy cornering at the limits and want to feel a connection with the road."
Eight engineers (kitted out in fireproof racing suits while maintaining social distancing) are involved in the testing of the Chiron Pur Sport over three days. The much firmer chassis is extensively analyzed; for instance, a new Sport+ mode allows for controlled slides, not something the Veyron was known for. A flatter front-end design, a huge rear wing, and a 110-pound drop in weight over the Chiron are all aimed at improving downforce and cornering prowess. The powertrain has been fettled, too, with the 1,479-horsepower W16 engine paired with a quicker dual-clutch transmission.
Even though the Chiron Pur Sport's top speed is down to 218 mph (the original Veyron had a much faster maximum speed), the Pur Sport performs where it counts. "Thanks to the new suspension geometry, the softer Michelin tires with even better grip and the enormous rear wing, the acceleration of the Pur Sport out of corners is even more brutal," enthuses Jachin Schwalbe, Head of Chassis Development.
After another couple of hot laps, the Chiron Pur Sport cools down while the engineers assess mounds of data on their laptops. This car is a new chapter for Bugatti, and engineering a genuinely fun-to-drive sports car with this much power takes guts. More track tests are anticipated imminently, including a visit to the Nurburgring, before production of the 60 Chiron Pur Sport begins in the second half of this year. In the US, an MSRP of $3,599,000 applies, which includes duty, transportation, GGT, and Sirius XM. It's a lofty price, but this is also a car that may just give Italy's best something to think about.