The Bugatti Chiron’s true top speed will remain a mystery until tire technology catches up.
With an electronically limited top speed of 261 mph, it’s no secret that the Bugatti Chiron is ferociously fast, but it’s unlimited top speed is still a mystery. Glance at the speedometer, and you’ll be led to believe that the Chiron will max out at an astonishing 310 mph. While we have no doubt that it’s capable of such mind-boggling speed thanks to its 8.0-liter W12 engine packing 1,479 horsepower, it isn’t physically possible right now. Why? Because no street-legal tire can handle that speed - at least not yet.
You don’t have to just take our word for it. Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace, who famously set a 240 mph speed record in a McLaren F1, broke the news to Popular Mechanics, explaining that no street-legal tire currently in production can withstand the extreme forces generated at 300 mph. “Even at 261 mph the wheel and tire has to withstand extreme forces,” Popular Mechanics wrote. “The valve cap on each wheel weighs 2.5 grams, but it equates to 16 pounds at 261 mph. As the speed moves even higher, the loads increase exponentially.” According to Wallace, Michelin is developing tire technology for the Chiron that will allow it to exceed 280 mph, but that still falls short of its potential.
Bugatti will finally do a top speed run in the Chiron next year to show what it's capable of, but the hypercar’s true potential will no doubt remain a mystery until tire technology catches up. It's further proof that the Chiron is ahead of its time, just as the Veyron was when it launched over a decade ago.