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Bugatti Chiron: everything you need to know

Michelin logoMichelin 8/16/2016

The iconic Bugatti Veyron was an almost impossible act to follow, but that's exactly what the legendary luxury French brand has managed with the new Chiron.

Armchair pedants may quibble over competitors' acceleration times, torque and top speed, but the simple fact is that nothing has the cachet of Bugatti's new all-wheel drive hypercar.

Launched at the 86th Geneva Motor Show in March 2016, it made its first public appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June. This year’s festival’s motto was “Full Throttle – The Endless Pursuit of Power,” so a highly appropriate venue.

With a production run limited to just 500 cars (more than a third already sold), the Chiron is built at Bugatti's headquarters in Molsheim, northeastern France, and the first car is due to be delivered to an extremely wealthy customer this autumn.

Named after race ace Louis Chiron (1899-1979), the most successful Bugatti works driver, the new car is all about numbers – and two in particular stand out:

1. The basic price is €2.4m (around $2.7m)

2. It has a top speed of 261mph (420km/h) "limited for road travel," which means that it has a new speed record in its sights

All that blistering performance is delivered by a W16 engine (eight liters, 16 cylinders, in a 'W' arrangement), just like the Veyron's.

The difference is that the Chiron's powerplant has been completely redesigned, featuring four larger high-performance turbochargers and 32 fuel injectors, resulting in a 25% power boost.

Chiron stats to stop you in your tracks:

• W16 engine develops 1479bhp (1500hp)

• 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in less than 2.5 seconds

• 0-124mph (0-200km/h) in less than 6.5 seconds

• 0-186mph (0-300km/h) in less than 13.6 seconds

• Massive torque: 1600Nm ((or 1180lb ft) at 2000-6000rpm

When a car stretches as many boundaries as the Chiron, engineers and stylists have to think of innovative new ways to harness the performance.

Innovative powerplant

For instance, the two-stage turbocharging system developed by Bugatti for the Chiron ensures maximum acceleration from a standstill without “turbo lag.”

The car moves off the mark with only two turbochargers in operation. The other two units are only activated at about 3,800 rpm. As a result, the two-stage turbocharging delivers a smooth power curve from 2,000 rpm.

The W16 engine needs serious cooling, so the Chiron's "charge air" system has also been improved. As a result, more than 60,000 liters of air per minute are pumped through the engine. The coolant pump is also a very high-performance unit. In one minute, it circulates 800 liters of water through the entire engine.

The gearbox, specially developed by Bugatti, has the largest, highest-performance clutch used on a passenger car.

The new lightweight titanium exhaust system is rounded off by six tailpipes, while the two main catalytic converters are about six times as large as the unit fitted to a medium-sized car.

The monocoque of the Chiron, which takes four weeks to manufacture, is made entirely from carbon fiber. Bugatti claims that if all the fibers used were laid out end to end, they would stretch nine times the distance between the earth and the moon.

Tire technology

The Chiron is shod with entirely new high-performance tires, once again developed by Bugatti with its strategic tire partner Michelin.

The tires, 285 / 30 R20 at the front and 355 / 25 R21 in the back, have been built to withstand the massive torque (every gram of rubber is exposed to centrifugal force of 3,800 times the force of gravity), yet they also have to be comfortable in city traffic.

Michelin says the Chiron’s tyres offer a larger contact surface (+14% at the front, +12% at the rear) and therefore "greater potential in decisive driving situations with significant improvements in braking behaviour, acceleration, grip on wet and dry roads, noise levels, mechanical comfort and handling at the limits."

Signature design

Bugatti claims the balance between “beauty” and “beast” needed in a modern Bugatti has been significantly shifted in the direction of aggression in the case of the new Chiron.

The lines of the new car were inspired by the legendary Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, the most famous creation of Jean Bugatti, the son of the founder Ettore.

The Chiron is higher and wider than the Veyron, but retains Bugatti's distinctive signature design elements. At the front there's the Bugatti horseshoe grille and along the side the C-bar – also known as the “Bugatti line.”

To accentuate the unique “eight-eye” design of the front end, Bugatti has equipped the Chiron with the flattest full-LED projector headlamps ever fitted to a car.

As well as countless aerodynamic features, the Chiron also has a newly designed adaptive chassis, which allows different ground clearances to be set, and an active aerodynamics system that includes a hydraulic diffuser flap to ensure lower drag and improved brake cooling.

There’s also an adaptive rear spoiler, unique to Bugatti. It can adopt four positions – completely retracted, slightly extended (the position for the Top Speed mode), completely extended (for the Handling and Autobahn modes) and also tilted forwards in the air brake position.

Perhaps Wolfgang Dürheimer, president of Bugatti, sums it up best: “Bugatti has tested the limits of physics. There is no area where we have not achieved significant improvements. “The Chiron is the result of our efforts to make the best even better.”

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