Bugatti unleashes 420 kph Chiron

Bugatti Chiron07


After months of teasing Bugatti has finally unleashed the successor to its iconic Veyron supercar. The Chiron is claimed to set a new benchmark for hypercars, just as its predecessor did a decade ago.

  • More than 1 100 kW and a staggering 1 600 Nm of torque
  • Top speed of 420 kph
  • Only 500 to be made - priced at about R41 million each!

In recent times the ageing Bugatti Veyron's position as the world's ultimate hypercar has come under serious threat from the likes of Pagani, Ferrari, Porsche and Koenigsegg. But just as those brands appear to be catching up, the Molsheim-based French luxury brand appears to have shifted the goalposts again. Due for its official unveiling at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show is the successor to the Veyron, dubbed the Chiron.

Why "Chiron"?

The new Bugatti Chiron is named after famed Bugatti racer, Louis Chiron

The new super Bugatti is named after racing driver Louis Chiron, who campaigned Bugattis to great effect during his long and storied racing career. Interestingly, it follows in a tradition set by the Veyron, itself named after Pierre Veyron, another French racer from the Bugatti stable.

Staggering Power

The 8.0-litre W16 engine produces a staggering 1 600 Nm of torque

Using a "newly developed" version of the brand's now trademark quad-turbo, 8.0-litre W16 engine, the Chiron is the first road car to offer 1 500HP (just over 1 100 kW) in production trim. Perhaps even more impressively, the engine delivers a crunching 1 600 Nm of torque, all the way from 2 000 to 6 000 rpm. In Top Speed mode the Chiron can reach 420 kph! To compensate for the weight increase resulting from the higher power output, Bugatti employed more lightweight materials such as titanium and carbon fibre in its construction. For example, the intake tube, the charge air system and the chain housing are all made of carbon fibre. 

Another key feature of the powertrain is its two-stage turbocharging system. To ensure maximum acceleration from standstill without turbo-lag, the Chiron blasts off using only two of its four turbochargers. The other two are only activated at around 3 800 rpm, for full "afterburner" acceleration. 

As was the case with its predecessor, the Chiron employs a highly sophisticated all-wheel drive system. Sending so much power to the wheels is no easy task and, as a result, the Chiron has the world's largest and highest-performance clutch (for a passenger vehicle). A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission handles shifting duties.

Beauty and beast design

Central fin recalls the famous spine of the iconic Bugatti Atlanic

The Chiron is significantly more hardcore from a design point of view, with Bugatti saying there is more "beast" in the overall look. Nevertheless, there are plenty of historical references and some exquisite detailing, too. The dramatic and accentuated "C" on either side of the vehicle is inspired by the stunningly pretty Type 57SC Atlantic, while the central fin recalls the central spine of the iconic Atlantic model. The famous horseshoe grille, in particular, contains some beautiful artwork, with the emblem (also called the Bugatti "Macaron") measuring 26 cm in circumference and made from 140 g of silver...

And then there are the modern touches... Bugatti has fitted the Chiron with the flattest full-LED projector headlamps ever fitted to a car, with a height of only 90 mm. Each headlamp has its own controller to operate the LEDs installed behind the main lenses, which are mounted on delicate aluminium arms. The 8 outer lighting squares consist of light conductors providing sidelight and daytime running light functions. 

Less weight, more rigidity

The monocoque structure of the Bugatti Chiron is made entirely from carbon fibre and is claimed to be the most sophisticated in its class, technically speaking. For the first time, the rear end of the car is also made from carbon fibre. Bugatti says that if all the fibres used in the monocoque were laid out end to end, they would stretch nine times the distance between the earth and the moon! The production of a single monocoque takes four weeks. The Chiron is only 8kg lighter than before, which doesn't sound like much until you understand the technical implications of an engine producing as much power as the one bolted in the back of this monster. The rigidity of the new structure is astounding – it's equal to that of an LMP1 racing car (the type you'll see at Le Mans).

Sharper handling

Active aero and Adaptive suspension boost Chiron's handling and grip levels.

For the Chiron, Bugatti has developed an advanced new adaptive chassis with five driving programmes that is said to provide an extremely dynamic driving experience, very direct responses, considerably improved agility, more precise steering, fast cornering and outstanding roadholding even at high cornering speeds. The fives modes are; Lift, EB "Auto", Autobahn, Handling and Top Speed. To reach the 420 kph maximum speed, the driver can activate the "Top Speed" mode, which is done by using a second, separate ignition key. 

For maximum grip, the Chiron rides on entirely new high-performance tyres developed in partnership with Michelin. The tyres are sized 285/30 R20 at the front and 355/25 R21 at the rear, and have larger contact surfaces (by 14% at the front and 12% at the rear) than the rubber fitted to the Veyron. Bugatti claims that the new tyres will also be easier to fit and offer lower operating costs.

And then there are the brakes, which utilise special carbon ceramic discs made from carbon silicon carbide (CSiC). This material makes the disc lighter and offers greater corrosion resistance, performance and durability. The discs are 20 mm larger in diameter, 2 mm thicker and offer improved heat dissipation for improved performance. The brake callipers are forged from an aluminium part and then "milled using bionic principles", the manufacturer says. 

For cooling and aerodynamic purposes, the Chiron features a very advanced active aerodynamics system that includes an adaptive rear spoiler that can be deployed at four positions: completely retracted, slightly extended (the position for the Top Speed mode), completely extended (for the Handling and Autobahn modes) and also tilted forwards in the air brake position. The level and angle of the wing are adjusted automatically as required.

Luxury cabin

Authentic materials and modern tech co-exist in a snug, ultra-luxurious cabin

A modern-day Bugatti must not only be a performance superstar, but also offer the type of luxury and first-class accoutrements the brand has always been famous for. For this reason, only authentic materials are used in the cabin – parts that look like carbon fibre, aluminium or leather are really made from the materials that they appear to be. And yet, the cabin is also bang up to date in terms of technical features.

In front of the driver is a new adaptive instrument cluster. Installed in an aluminium housing, it consists of three compact displays surrounding the analogue speedometer. High-resolution TFT displays are positioned to the left and right of the speedometer with a smaller flat IPS display located below. The idea behind the design is that the driver should be offered only the information that is necessary at that moment. The faster the Chiron is driven, the simpler the presentation becomes. 

If the roar of the W16 engine does not provide enough aural delight, the Chiron is fitted with what is claimed to be the most luxurious sound system offered in a super sports car, developed exclusively for Bugatti by the "accuton" brand. Audio system connoisseurs will appreciate the use of a one-carat diamond membrane in each of the four tweeters, delivering a crystal-clear sound. In addition, the world's first mid-range speaker with two separate membrane zones is fitted to the Chiron.

Sales success

Austerity may be the word of the decade, but the world's rich and famous are already forming a lengthy queue for the Chiron. Bugatti says it will only build 500 and that each will cost roughly R40 million, but orders have already been placed for a third of the total production run... Once more, South Africans are unlikely to ever see a Chiron on South African roads as the vehicle will be produced in left-hand drive guise only.

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