NZ Autocar - - Contents -

The Vey­ron is no more but in its place the new Vey­ron, sorry, the Ch­i­ron, which was re­vealed at the Geneva show re­cently. Con­sid­er­ably sim­i­lar but vastly more ex­pen­sive, the com­pany will now ac­tu­ally make money on each car sold in­stead of los­ing plenty on ev­ery Vey­ron. Ch­i­ron gets its name from a fa­mous French racer of the 1920s and early 1930s.

Sport­ing an up­dated ver­sion of the quad-turbo W16 en­gine pok­ing out an un­likely 1100kW, the 2.0 tonne colos­sus can ac­cel­er­ate from nought to 100km/h in un­der 2.5sec, on its way to a top speed of 418km/h.

These fig­ures and the cost alone should be enough to keep Bu­gatti at the top of the su­per­car heap, though the com­pany also says Ch­i­ron is the most pow­er­ful road car to ever reach se­ries pro­duc­tion. Not that many will be made, the run lim­ited to 500 ex­am­ples only. It’s also a su­per­car for the su­per­wealthy, with a list price of€2.4 mil­lion Euro. Al­ready, the com­pany has con­firmed or­ders for 150 ex­am­ples. The first Chi­rons will be de­liv­ered in Q4, with fur­ther vari­ants cur­rently in the plan­ning stages.

It’s easy to get the im­pres­sion the Ch­i­ron is a Vey­ron makeover, but Bu­gatti’s chief, Wolf­gang Dürheimer, denies that. It now has a full car­bon fi­bre con­struc­tion but in the mid­dle be­hind the two pas­sen­gers the pow­er­train is re­mark­ably sim­i­lar, the 8.0L W16 heav­ily re­vised, with an ex­tra 367kW and 348Nm. The torque now peaks at 1600Nm, from 2000-6000 rpm.

The list of new en­gine tech­nol­ogy is ex­ten­sive but it’s the num­bers that are im­por­tant, and the ex­tra grunt comes largely from big­ger, more po­tent tur­bos, and an ex­haust sys­tem with less back pres­sure.

The tur­bos op­er­ate now in a two-stage process, with half on line ini­tially and the other two chim­ing in at en­gine speeds above 3800rpm. All that out­put works through a strength­ened sev­en­speed dual-clutch trans­mis­sion, and on out through a four-wheeldrive sys­tem and torque vec­tor­ing dif­fer­en­tial. This set-up is said to make Ch­i­ron “easy to drift”. You’d be dis­ap­pointed if it didn’t, given the num­bers gen­er­ated.

Sig­nif­i­cantly those num­bers say the Ch­i­ron is quicker than the Vey­ron, lop­ping al­most a sec­ond off its 0-200km/h time. Top speed is said to be 11km/h more than that of its fore­run­ner.

The chas­sis de­vel­op­ments aimed to im­prove ride qual­ity with­out up­set­ting body con­trol, and to this end Ch­i­ron utilises an adap­tive sus­pen­sion sys­tem, with vari­able ride height and damp­ing. There are five driv­ing modes on of­fer, one to help ne­go­ti­ate speed humps (Lift), and three modes in which top speed is lim­ited to a pif­fling 378km/h. Once again, to at­tain ul­ti­mate top speed, you need to en­gage the mode that goes by the same name via a ‘Speed Key’ and then you can

charge on to the 418km/h end of days. Good luck find­ing a road or track for that.

Should your luck hold, rest as­sured that the ce­ramic brakes are up to rein­ing in the all-con­quer­ing per­for­mance of Ch­i­ron, the 420mm front discs clamped by eight-pis­ton calipers while the 400mm rear car­bon-ce­ramic discs use six-pot­ters. The com­pany claims a best 100-0 dis­tance of 31.3m. We’d like to ver­ify that.

There’s no mis­tak­ing the ori­gins of Ch­i­ron, as styling shares strong vis­ual cues with Vey­ron, but the lines of the new car are more dra­matic, and it looks more aero­dy­nam­i­cally ef­fi­cient than its pre­de­ces­sor. Design chief, Achim An­scheidt, says styling in­volved much in­put from the Bu­gatti en­gi­neer­ing team to en­sure ‘greater func­tion­al­ity with­out any loss in over­all im­pact’. Which we take to mean, looks bet­ter but it’s no fly­ing car. So cue an enor­mous front split­ter, big hor­i­zon­tal air ducts, Bu­gatti’s tra­di­tional semi­cir­cu­lar grille, dis­tinc­tive LED head­lamps with in­te­grated ducts feed­ing air to the front brakes, and the dra­matic cir­cu­lar sweep of body­work that con­nects the rear of the front wheel arches back­wards to­wards the mid­mounted en­gine and then up­wards and for­wards end­ing at the A-pil­lars. There’s also the iconic cen­tral spine that largely bi­sects the car, and ap­par­ently aids lon­gi­tu­di­nal sta­bil­ity. Can’t get enough of that at 418km/h. A new NACA duct is used to chan­nel air into the en­gine bay and is said to be more aero­dy­nam­i­cally ef­fi­cient than the Vey­ron’s sep­a­rate scoops.

The rear of the Ch­i­ron is rather dif­fer­ent from that of the Vey­ron, with a fully in­te­grated rear spoiler, a wide LED light band, large air ducts, a cen­tral mount dual ex­haust and size­able dif­fuser. Over­all, Ch­i­ron is slightly larger than Vey­ron, though the wheel­base is es­sen­tially the same length.

At the core of the Ch­i­ron is a new car­bon fi­bre mono­coque, sim­i­lar to that used in the VW Group’s LMP1 cars. Un­like Vey­ron, a sand­wich con­struc­tion is used for the floor, while a com­pos­ite en­gine cra­dle adds stiff­ness. How­ever, this and the en­larged di­men­sions come at a weight cost, the Ch­i­ron roughly 150kg heav­ier than Vey­ron, scal­ing up at 1995kg.

The cabin is fin­ished in leather, car­bon fi­bre and brushed alu­minium. Un­usu­ally, the pas­sen­ger airbag de­ploys through a car­bon fi­bre mech­a­nism, not seen be­fore in a pro­duc­tion car.

Dürheimer con­cluded, “the Ch­i­ron is the ul­ti­mate su­per sports car, a new su­perla­tive in the au­to­mo­tive world” and he added that the car’s cur­rent top speed is “by no means the end of the road”. Ex­pect more ex­cess any time soon.

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