For those of you who follow such things, the Chiron is a long anticipated supersportscar in the proud 108 year Bugatti lineage. The Chiron debuted in March of last year and boasts 1,500 horsepower—five-hundred more than its predecessor, the Veyron—and motor-journalists can wait up to a year just to test drive one. Only 70 of these cars will be hand-built this year at the iconic Molsheim facility in idyllic Alsace, home of the marque since it was founded in 1909. Each car takes 6 months, 20 employees, and 1,800 individual parts for completion.
So, when Bugatti reached out last Friday to see if I wanted to take one of the Chiron’s for a spin before they shipped it off to Miami for Art Basel I did the obvious thing and canceled all of my plans.
I met legendary LeMans racer Butch Leitzinger in Greenwich to find him standing among a sea of Bentleys’ next to an ivory Veyron, “You’re going to be driving that one today,” he said motioning to the two-tone blue Chiron sitting impatiently in the distance.
Beautiful as it was, I don’t think I was as excited as I should have been. It’s easy to fall into a rhythm of driving amazing cars and I kind of approached the entire day in a nonchalant “Well, I guess today I’m going to drive a Bugatti” kind of way. Trust me when I tell you this: that feeling of casual apathy melted away the second I reached for the door.
Immediately upon ignition you notice the elegant symphony of the W16 engine. You read that right.
This engineering marvel has a stunning sixteen cylinder engine coupled with 4 Turbochargers and 2-stage turbocharging, “We solved that whole turbo-lag problem that you might have experienced in other supercars,” Butch tells me as I accelerate aggressively onto I-684. I look over at Butch, a man who has raced for Bugatti at LeMans, and he looks like he could be drinking a cup of tea. “Perhaps that wasn’t as aggressive as I thought,” I think to myself as I dipped off the highway into the country roads that meander through Greenwich’s surrounding countryside.
The handling, design, and engineering that goes into a supercar like this requires a book all of its own but even a casual enthusiast can tell this car is meant to do one thing: go incredibly fast.
The design team did a gorgeous job merging form and function and it’s virtually impossible to tell that almost every curve is meant to act as forced air induction to the rear W16 engine. From the massive front grill bearing the Bugatti badge to the vented curve which wraps around the cockpit doors, Bugatti has found an elegant way to merge performance with exquisite beauty. No other hypercar even comes close when it comes to aesthetics inside and out but the same, as some of you may already know, is not true with performance.
The Chiron stays true to its namesake, the 1920’s Bugatti enthusiast and famed racing driver Louis Chiron, and embodies Ettore Bugatti’s vision from over a century ago—bringing together revolutionary motorsport technology and distinctive artistry.
From a complete standstill, the Chiron can get to 249 mph and back down to a complete standstill in just 42 seconds. It was so fast, they had to use another Chiron—and give it a head start—just to film the record setting attempt. The Bugatti Chiron held that world record for less than a month when the Koenigsegg Agera RS beat it in October of this year.
“Does Bugatti plan on taking back the record?” I asked Leitzinger as we pulled back into the driveway.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.