The Bugatti Chiron is a car of mind-scrambling numbers: 1103kW, 1600Nm, $4.4 million, 1995kg, and that famous 420km/h top speed
Of all the incredible numbers associated with the Bugatti Chiron (more on these in a minute), it’s the comparatively small figure of 42 that means the most to me. The 42 minutes I spent in the supple leather driver’s seat, staring at that 500km/h speedo while being shoved in the back by a force beyond comprehension, are imprinted onto my mind with indelible ink.
To be granted those 42 minutes took months of logistical wrangling from the other side of the world. In fact, my first two attempts to get behind the wheel of the Chiron were thwarted. To score wheel time in the world’s fastest and most expensive series production car took the cashing in of all favours and goodwill chips that I’d accrued in two decades in this job. And here’s the thing about those 42 minutes; it was meant to be sixty, but road works and heavy traffic meant I was running late. I’ll forever wonder how I could have spent those 18 minutes…
The sonic boom, thunders through the carbonfibre super structure as the 355/25 R21 rear tyres slap over the expansion joint between the sections of concrete. Had I not been previously warned to expect a thunder dap within the cockpit, it’d have surely startled me into twitching at the wheel or touching the brakes. Forewarned, however, I continued holding the beautiful aluminium throttle pedal to the bulkhead, and kept a light touch on the leather and carbonfibre steering wheel. The Chiron merely shrugged off the expansion joint and continued hauling in the horizon at over 100 metres per second.
Even for someone who’s driven lots of very fast cars, induding the Veyron, it’s difficult for me to find a frame of reference for the Chiron’s speed. Conventional measurements are meaningless in a car with 1103kW and 1600Nm. With launch control engaged, the Chiron will breach 100km/h in under 2.5-seconds and I know of one European publication that recorded a 2.3-second run. The first 200km/h (not even a 50 per cent score on the Chiron’s ultimate ability) is dispatched with disdain in 6.5 seconds. Many people’s idea of a fast car would begin with the likes of a Volkswagen Golf GTI, and it’s good for 0-100km/h in about 6.5sec. Up to 200km/h, the Chiron is accderating at such a mind-scrambling rate that it’s all you can do to process the stream of scenery pouring through the windscreen. The speedo needle swept through the first half of its arc and beyond 250km/h at top-dead centre. With the four-turbochargers delivering their full 1.85-bar head of steam, the speedo’s accompanying digital numbers flickered in meaningless chunks of 15-20km/h.
There was no let up as the speed built towards 300km/h (something that takes just 13.6 seconds) but my mind finally caught up and began to comprehend and appreciate the acceleration. An Aston Martin Vanquish takes over 40 seconds to pass 300km/h, and very fast cars such as a Porsche 911 Turbo need 30 seconds. Something truly ballistic, think Ferrari 812 Superfast, takes around 24 seconds.
In an attempt to comprehend the scale of the Chiron’s performance, consider that its 1103kW power peak is more than twice that of a Lamborghini Aventador S or three times the power of a BMW M4 GTS. The Bugatti’s 1600Nm represents twice the torque – plus another 60Nm – of the ballistic McLaren 720S. But this is the craziest comparison of all – the Chiron has 221kW and 350Nm more than the Veyron Supersport, a car already capable of a mind-bending 431km/h. That’s a Golf R on top of a Veyron.