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Bugatti Chiron engines, drive and performance

2017 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 4.8 out of 54.8

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

  • The fastest car in the world
  • Electronically limited to 261mph
  • Some turbo lag, disappointing noise

There is not another production car on the planet that will keep pace with a Bugatti Chiron, either from a standing start, or flat out on the autobahn. A 1,995kg kerb weight sounds closer to the SUV than supercar class, but the Bugatti’s 1,500hp 8.0-litre W16 engine overcomes it to deliver some astonishing performance figures.

And daft as it may sound, the 2.5sec 0-62mph time is the least impressive of them, because at that point the Chiron is only just getting into its stride. Find the space to legally stretch the Bugatti’s legs and it’ll reach 124mph (200km/h) in 6.5sec, which is about the time it takes for a good hot hatch to achieve half that speed.

Then things get really silly. From rest to 186mph (300km/h) occupies only 13.6sec and, given enough room, the Chiron will eventually run into an electronic limiter at 261mph. But only if you’ve inserted the second key down by the driver’s sill to active the low drag mode.

Without the second key inserted, the Chiron is limited to 236mph. At some point in 2018, Bugatti will attempt a top speed run without any speed limiter at all, and hopes to achieve 280mph.

Breathtakingly fast with massive traction

Despite arranging the four turbochargers to come on stream in pairs rather than all at once to improve response, there is some turbo lag – the momentary pause between pressing the accelerator and getting a response.

But the huge 1,600Nm of torque on offer is delivered over a wide range, and beyond 4,000prm, the acceleration is punishingly vicious.

The biggest shock, after the wallop in the back when you put your foot down, is that the Bugatti deploys its performance with almost no fuss. Traction is excellent, and even at 200mph, the Chiron feels absolutely planted, without a trace of vibration through the controls.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack is similarly subdued. There’s more growl mixed in with the turbo whine this time, but other hypercars are more exciting to listen to.

  • More involving than the Veyron
  • Enormous speed and stability
  • Easy to drive, tricky to park

Unlike Ferrari and McLaren, Bugatti makes no claims of race track prowess for its hypercar. Going fast in a straight line is the Chiron’s major selling point, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t like corners.

It might not be as agile or playful as a Ferrari 488GTB, but the Chiron is actually very competent on a twisty road, and more involving than the Veyron ever was.

At 1,995kg, the Chiron is very heavy in hypercar terms, but that mass is well controlled by the new adaptive dampers, which give an excellent blend of ride comfort in town, body control through corners, and stability over fast and straight, but undulating, roads.

Adaptive suspension works well

A rotary dial on the lower left of the steering wheel lets you choose between an automatic mode (labelled EB, for the founder, Ettore Bugatti), Handling mode, which makes the steering heavier and the suspension firmer, and Autobahn mode, which lowers the car, but keeps the suspension supple.

Predictably, Handling mode feels the most dynamic, but the steering feels a little heavy. In EB mode, the steering feels lighter, meaning the car itself feels lighter, but it retains the same excellent precision, and gearing that’s much more relaxing than a Ferrari’s super-quick steering setup.

Amazingly easy to drive

In fact the Chiron isn’t only very fast from point to point, it’s also very easy to drive quickly or slowly, and takes no time to get used to. Anyone could jump in and feel at home within less than a minute, which isn’t something you could say about many other supercars.

Parking, however, is a different matter. A fourth setting on the steering wheel rotary controller raises the nose to negotiate speed bumps, and there is a rear view camera for reversing. But the screen (located to in the instrument binnacle to the right of the speedo) is small and the turning circle is huge.