History has a lesson for those of you hoping that Bugatti’s next move would be a full starboard tack to something different, such as the 16C Galibier supersedan concept from 2009. Instead we get the Chiron, which stops short of reinventing the stupefying 11-year-old Veyron coupe. Note that in its prewar glory days, Bugatti sold more than 700 Type 57s versus just six Type 41 Royales produced. The Madman of Molsheim, Ettore Bugatti, recognized that coupes called better than sedans to the sporting gentlemen who were his customers. Some things never change.
Thus, the 1500-hp Chiron, the planned 500 copies of which represent a sort of Veyron Type-C after the original 1001-hp Veyron 16.4 and the follow-up 1200-hp Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. Much has changed on the surface and underneath, but the essential mission has not: Use prodigious horsepower rendered by exotic technology and delivered by four-wheel drive to engender shock and awe in high-net-worth people, two at a time. Unlike recent Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche hypercars, Bugatti’s doesn’t go in for any of that hybrid stuff. A battery? Sure, the Chiron has one. It starts the engine.
The basic footprint changes only incrementally. The wheelbase stays static at 106.7 inches and supports a beam widened by almost two inches. Overall length grows a bit more than three inches due to an elongated nose and a jutting lower lip in back. The octo-eyed Chiron, with its stiffened all-carbon tub, new five-mode driving menu, and promised cheaper-to-replace Michelin tires (formerly $42,000 per set), represents a clean-up of the Veyron’s chubby shape. The old lower-side coves and twin roof bazookas have been melded into two giant C-shaped gills that dramatically frame the doors. In back, a boomerang-blade of taillights adds a more modern, robotic mien to a rear of wall-to-wall mesh that otherwise evokes an old Lola Le Mans car.
The quad-turbo 8.0-liter W-16 in back now gets lighter components, such as a carbon-fiber chain-case cover. Two-stage turbocharging, with larger turbos, eliminates lag. One pair does the pressurizing at lower revs for quicker spool-up, then the other two turbos come online at 3800 rpm for max boost. As with the Veyron, the Chiron is a superlative of numbers: an anticipated 2.5 seconds to 62 mph; a water pump that can circulate 211 gallons of coolant through the engine in one minute; six catalytic converters that have a total surface area equivalent to 43 football fields; a seven-speed dual-clutch auto that accepts the peak torque of 1180 pound-feet.
Restraint, what little there is, lies in the 261-mph speed limiter. The Veyron 16.4 Super Sport was limited to a grossly inadequate 258 mph.
Price: 2.4 million euros, or $2,644,306 per the exchange rate when it debuted. In the interim, the Euro has strengthened, driving up the cost (for us) by more than $90,000. But you’re worth it.