In the world of exotic hypercars, where speed and splendour are expected, only the truly exceptional stands out. No matter where it is taken—Monaco, Pebble Beach, Beverly Hills, or West Vancouver—Bugatti’s Chiron does just that, turning heads and eliciting comment. It is a singularly spectacular fusion of art and engineering, with every detail carefully considered to help enhance the driving experience.
Visually, this car is striking. Low and wide, with supple curves and eye-catching details, it’s better looking and more cohesive than the Veyron it replaces (the names are taken from famous Bugatti racing drivers). Construction is of carbon fibre, with aluminum subframes on the front and rear. Up front, Bugatti’s distinctive horseshoe grille is flanked by quad LED character lights, and a distinguishing aluminum C-line arches around the back of the doors, dividing and defining the car while offering myriad two-tone paint possibilities.
Inside, the Chiron is crafted like a fine watch, with a timeless pared-down style and only the very best materials. Knobs and switchgear are milled from solid aluminum ingots, and rich leather wraps the soft surfaces; there is classic diamond stitching on the seatbacks, and carbon fibre details abound. Modern technological conveniences are included, to be sure, but they’re integrated into the instrument cluster rather than placed on garish display in the centre of the dash—so the Chiron’s interior will look as stylish in 25 years as it does today.
The vehicle’s engineering starts with the engine, which is a 16-cylinder, 8-litre, quad-turbocharged mechanical wonder. It’s one of the few parts carried over from the Veyron, but it didn’t carry over unchanged; where the Veyron Super Sport produced 1,200-horsepower, the Chiron’s engine was upgraded to produce an astounding 1,500 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque.
To get the power safely to the road, the Chiron has a 7-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox and Haldex all-wheel drive, which allows the car to accelerate from a standstill to 100 kilometres per hour in a mere 2.4 seconds, and to 200 kilometres per hour in just 6.1 seconds. Top speed, if a suitable legal venue can be found, is 420 kilometres per hour and requires inserting a special speed key (without it, drivers are limited to “only” 380 kilometres per hour).
Of course, great speed requires great stopping power, and the Chiron delivers with enormous 420-millimetre (16.5-inch) ceramic disc brakes that can haul the car down from 100 kilometres per hour to a full halt in just 31.4 metres. The Chiron can also accelerate from zero to 400 kilometres per hour and back to a stop again in just 41.96 seconds, an achievement that set a world record and kicked off a new hypercar arms race.
Bugatti showed the Chiron in West Vancouver recently and offered this writer a one-hour test drive. Once bodies are eased in over the wide door sills, the seats are perfectly comfortable and there’s plenty of headroom and legroom; press the steering-wheel-mounted start button and the engine comes to life with a deep growl. The stiff body structure and adaptive suspension make the Chiron composed and compliant on normal roads, especially in “EB” comfort mode (choose from three driving modes: EB, named for company founder Ettore Bugatti; Autobahn; and Sport). With the transmission in automatic mode, the car can almost seem docile, although the rumble and whoosh of its massive turbocharged engine never lets the power it’s capable of unleashing be truly forgotten.
Which inevitably leads to the showcase moment: the Chiron’s record-breaking acceleration. On public roads, drivers can only experience the thrill in three-second increments, because in a fraction over six seconds the vehicle would be doing 200 kilometres per hour. But those three seconds impress themselves deeply in the brain. The thrust is something only fighter pilots and dragster drivers have any regular experience with, but here it’s aboard a luxurious, street-legal sportscar.
Thanks to Bugatti’s all-wheel drive system, the Chiron accelerates straight and true with no drama—but the same can’t be said for what goes on inside your rib cage, where your innards are pressed back against your spine; or in your head, where a rush of euphoria matches the rush of acceleration.
Go farther with Transportation.