AT A GLANCE
WHEN it comes to the 1120kW, 8.0-litre, 16-cylinder quad turbo Bugatti Chiron, the figures overpower words, written or spoken.
Filming a video segment behind the wheel, I try to speak as I plant my right foot — and it quite literally takes my breath away.
So fierce is the acceleration that it compresses my chest and I’m physically unable to speak until I lift off the throttle. The spots in my vision, from reduced blood flow to the head, also clear.
Writing about the experience is no small challenge. There are a tsunami of astonishing numbers and an avalanche of reactions from my four hours behind the wheel — it’s hard to find one stat more impressive than the next.
When Volkswagen launched the Bugatti Veyron in 2005, it aimed to reset the bar for the ultimate supercar. Then BUGATTI CHIRON PRICE SAFETY ENGINE TRANSMISSION DIMENSIONS WEIGHT 0-100KMH TOP SPEED company boss Wolfgang Durheimer wanted a successor “better in every respect”.
Engineers say the Chiron betters the performance of the Veyron by 25 per cent in every respect from power to drag coefficient. Certainly its power boost feels that way — the four turbos are 69 per cent larger than those used in the 895kW Veyron Supersport.
Bugatti offsets the risk of turbo lag by having two blowing from start-up, then at 3800rpm a valve opens to bring all four on song. Fed by four exhausts each, they deliver a linear 1600Nm wall of torque from 2000pm to 6000rpm.
With no hybrid powertrain like the Porsche 918 or LaFerrari, the Chiron doesn’t have instant takeoff.
It’s more like the Space Shuttle launching — it takes power to move the mass, then once off the mark it just never stops accelerating — and that means rest to 200km/h in 6.5s.
Under controlled conditions cruising at prodigious speeds, it feels composed, tractable, yet also ready to pounce. Beyond halfway on the 500km/h speedo, I can chat to my codriver and still guide it with pinpoint accuracy.
Acceleration and composure are peerless but its braking performance is perhaps even more impressive.
Enormous 420mm carbon ceramic discs and a giant rear air brake wipe speed off faster than I expect, so I find myself consistently braking too early into corners, recalling the advice from a Bugatti engineer before we set out, that the Chiron always wins the mental game of chicken with its driver.
As well as dispensing wisdom, the engineers also provide some head-spinning statistics. At its governed top speed of 420km/h, the Chiron sucks 1000L of air a second into its 10 radiators and intercoolers; its water pump propels 800L a minute, the equivalent of filling an average bathtub every 11 seconds.
At prodigious speeds, it’s thirsty — on full throttle, its 100L tank is drained in just under eight minutes.
The Chiron is not a strippedout racer like the LaFerrari. The interior matches Bentley levels
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