This drag race doesn't end well for fans of the French brand.
We know that many of our readers have clicked on this article simply to poke fun at Shelby Super Cars and its Tuatara, so we'll get the major issues out of the way first. No, the SSC did not achieve that insane 331-mph speed that it claimed, but it has since admitted so and has begun working to achieve that goal for real. The last we heard from the company was that its Nelson Racing Engines-supplied 5.9-liter twin-turbo V8 can produce close to 1,890 horsepower at the wheels, despite the engine manufacturer claiming a peak of 1,750 hp. That's pretty good, but can it beat a Bugatti? It should, and it does, as the video below demonstrates in style.
We're sorry for deceiving you and not making it clear that the race was against a Veyron and not a more modern Chiron, but let's not forget how capable the first W16-powered production Bugatti was and still is. The drop-top version is still one of the fastest roadsters on the planet, and the coupe is no slouch either.
That 8.0-liter, quad-turbo engine debuted in 2005 with 987 hp (SAE) and could spur the original Veyron on to a top speed of almost 254 mph. With AWD, 0-62 took just 2.46 seconds, which is still visceral today. By contrast, SSC claims a top speed of 295 mph for its rear-driven car, with a 0-62 time of 2.6 seconds.
But in a rolling race, the SSC takes the advantage early and never looks back. Importantly, the Tuatara wasn't running at full power, set instead at 'only' 1,200 hp.
Since the Veyron was designed to be the best at everything, including luxury, its dual-clutch automatic transmission is remarkably smooth. Remember, the Veyron was essentially a highly opulent grand tourer that just so happened to be the fastest car on the planet. The Tuatara, on the other hand, is focused exclusively on breaking the 300-mph barrier. Thus, when it changes gear, it has an unrefined, aftermarket quality to its unmuffled dump valve sounds, and that seven-speed robotized manual is anything but smooth. With every gear change, a blast of unburnt fuel can be seen ejecting from the exhaust. Is this a bad thing? Well, you certainly won't have the excuse of a wandering mind if you're caught breaking the speed limit on a public road.
SSC continues to develop the Tuatara and expects deliveries to take place around 2025. The company also showed virtual renders of a track-focused Striker variant and a track-only Aggressor variant last year, with the intention that at least one of the new cars would be publicly unveiled at this year's Monterey Car Week. However, no such car has yet been presented.
Presumably, SSC is still coming to grips with the regular Tuatara and won't move on to the new project before this one is complete, but we hope that the American hypercar manufacturer can get this process going sooner rather than later. To retain the interest of potential buyers, it desperately needs to achieve its goals, and that means an official 300-mph+ top speed record must be set soon.