There have been some turbulent times at Bugatti in the second half of 2020. In addition to wearing a For Sale sign over at Volkswagen’s headquarters, the company is discovering that The Current Year just might not be the best time to create a new and super-exclusive hypercar. So it isn’t.
When you’re selling a car that starts at just a tick under $3 million, one that’s already regarded as the most powerful and expensive sports car in the world, does more speed really add to the package? Without a supply of rarified air to tap into, this author can only assume that bragging rights grow more important the more a person makes. Why else do wildly affluent people scale Everest only to die on its frigid, oxygen-free slopes?
For Bugatti, maker of the 1,500-horsepower, 16-cylinder Chiron, a speed record crushed under the wheels of a “near production” prototype last month serves only to add additional — and perhaps unnecessary — glitz to the ultimate of halo cars.
We know the odds of your owning a $3 million Bugatti Chiron are pretty slim, so recall information from the brand doesn’t pertain directly to you. However, it’s sometimes interesting to examine how the other half lives. Have you ever wondered what several million dollars will get you when you spend it on a car that may have left the factory less than perfect?
According to the manufacturer, you are graced by the presence of one of Bugatti’s “Flying Doctors.” These mobile mechanics will begin contacting 47 Chiron owners to schedule dates where they can visit and examine the vehicles for faulty welds in the front seat recliner brackets. The bad welds are only expected to affect one-percent of the total, which works out to a perplexing half a car by our math. But, when you pay a few million for a car, you expect dapper concierge technicians at the ready.
After throwing down the gauntlet earlier this summer, Bugatti has begun making good on its promise to smash every automotive speed record it can with its new Chiron hypercar. In June, Bugatti CEO Wolfgang Durheimer told the press that the successor to the brand’s Veyron Super Sport would embark on a 12-month mission to ensure dominance, but admitted he wasn’t entirely sure how much quicker the Chiron would actually be.
However, helped out by silicon carbide brakes with titanium pistons, it turned out to be fast enough to go from a dead stop to 249 mph — and back to zero again — in a staggeringly short 41.96 seconds. Considering that there aren’t many cars that can even go that fast, the record-winning run does feel like a bit of a cheat. The feat is undoubtedly impressive but, since the Chiron has so few contemporaries, the record almost seems engineered to ensure Bugatti a victory.
The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 debuted in 2005 to spec sheet acclaim. On paper, there had never been anything like it. 16 cylinders, four turbos, 987 horsepower.
And 10 miles per gallon of premium gasoline.
The 2018 Bugatti Chiron is a better car, as it should be after more than a decade passed between development cycles. There are still 16 cylinders and four turbos, but Bugatti increased the power (having intermittently done so during the Veyron’s tenure) to 1,500 horses.
That 52 percent increase in power is not quite matched by a commensurate improvement in the distance travelled per gallon of premium gasoline. Not quite.
How about that new Bugatti Chiron? It looks pretty good to me. Better than the last one, anyway.
I always got the impression that its predecessor, the Veyron, wasn’t styled so much as it was excreted. There was just something unpleasant about it; I think the term used in modern architecture is “Brutalist,” and it describes objects that are designed to force themselves on the viewer without gentleness or grace. It applies well to the the Veyron, which was a technical achievement first, a statement of insane Gilded Age wealth second, and a car either third — or perhaps not at all.
Next to the sleek, purposeful-looking Chiron, the Veyron is a squat lump of offensive conspicuous consumption. Yet it had, and continues to have, an undeniable and magnetic attraction. One of our very occasional contributors at TTAC is a fellow who has owned everything from a Lagonda to a 458 to a Ford GT, and all at the same time to boot. For something like three years, however, his Facebook profile photo was of him behind the wheel of a Veyron. It is an object to which even the enormously wealthy aspire. Nothing says “my other car is a Gulfstream” quite like the Beetle-esque Bugatti.