New Bugatti Chiron review

The Bugatti Veyron's successor has arrived, but is the 1,479bhp Bugatti Chiron the ultimate hypercar? We find out...

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Some will say the Bugatti Chiron - all £2m and 261mph of it - is utterly pointless. And us? Well, it’s a technological masterpiece. More importantly, it’s a much more rounded machine than its predecessor, the Veyron. More characterful, more connected, more complete. An ultimate statement of speed, capability and kudos. For the world’s car-loving ultra high net worth community, the Chiron deservedly stands alone.

Where do you begin with the Chiron? Modestly billed by Bugatti as “the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious and most exclusive production sports car” it’s perhaps best to start with the Top Trumps facts.

Price? Just over £2m, excluding taxes. Maximum speed? Limited to 261mph in VMAX mode, and a piffling 236mph in shopping mode. The engine is a highly evolved version of the Veyron’s 8.0-litre, quad-turbo W16 that develops 1,479bhp and 1,600Nm of torque. 500 cars will be built in total, with approximately 70 cars scheduled for build in 2017.

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Perhaps the most remarkable fact is Bugatti has taken firm deposits for 250 cars. And all from customers who have yet to drive it. That says as much for the buying habits of the super-rich as it does the power of the Bugatti brand. Still, there’s no doubting the Chiron’s irresistible appeal as the ultimate statement of wealth and dazzling technological achievement. 

It certainly looks the part. In fact, it stops you dead in your tracks. That array of eight headlights creates a sinister frown, while the bold sweeping graphic along each flank is an unmistakable design signature. The brutally abrupt tail is dominated by a one-piece full-width light beam and an active rear wing and air brake that keeps the Chiron stable at immense speeds and under severe braking. It’s a spectacular machine. 

The cockpit is equally dramtic, thanks largely to the curving partition that sweeps back to form an unbroken arc from headlining to centre console. The driving position is excellent and visibility is decent, though the engine cover does impede your view in the rear-view mirror. 

The quad turbo W16 is an absolute powerhouse, but it trades the shouty vocals of an Aston Martin or Lamborghini for a deep, purposeful pulse that simmers behind your shoulders. It’s smooth as silk to drive at low speeds, thanks to colossal reserves of torque from a little over idle, and a seven-speed DSG transmission that shuffles through the gears with near-seamless ease.

The brakes - carbon discs 420mm in diameter and 44mm thick at the front, gripped by massive four-piston callipers housing 8 individual brake pads - have much improved cooling over the Veyron. The way they slow the two-tonne Chiron from high speeds is extraordinary (2G braking forces are possible, thanks to the combination of discs and air brake), but the fact they are also remarkably progressive and feelsome at low speed is just as important.

The Veyron was never an especially engaging car to drive, but the Chiron is significantly more tactile, especially through the steering. It’s a big car (just over 2m wide), but it feels much more wieldy than it has a right to. You also have a detailed sense of how hard each tyre is working, so not only can you drive it quickly with confidence, but you now feel part of the process rather than an awed passenger. 

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That said it’s not a sharp, aggressive character in the style of a McLaren P1 or LaFerrari. Its weight and all-wheel drive traction lend it a more planted feel, which suits its epic, effortlessly muscular performance to a tee. It’s a mature car; one that you could quite happily spend the whole day in without feeling fatigued. 

The first time you push your right foot to the floor in the Bugatti Chiron you leave most of your internal organs behind. The acceleration is emphatic, unrelenting and, truth be told, rather unsettling. It’s that rollercoaster feeling without the death-defying plunge to oblivion. 

Power figures grab headlines, but its torque that rearranges your innards whenever you squeeze the throttle. And the Chiron has lots of it: 1,600Nm to be precise. It’s available from just 2,000rpm, all the way to 6,000rpm. No other production car comes close to that.

There’s magic in every aspect of the Chiron, but the thing that sticks in your mind - apart from the brain-scrambling performance - is the fact it is so controlled, refined and so easy to drive. Four dynamic modes are accessed by a rotary switch on the steering wheel, while a special key located in the driver’s door sill unlocks the VMAX mode that raises the speed limiter to 261mph. 

Each driving mode optimises the active aerodynamics, adaptive damping and powertrain, so you can make the Chiron feel more agile and responsive or more supple and relaxed according to the road and your mood.

A car of this potency and performance shouldn’t have this breadth of character and capability. It’s a remarkable feat of engineering and a totally unforgettable experience.

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