2019 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+

2019 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+

‘Unrelenting, mesmerising, frightening amounts of power are deployed with an almost serene mechanical indifference’

I saw him just the other month. At Donington Park, in the paddock. He was walking towards me and, keen to get his attention but not remembering his name, all I could think to do was point and say “Fastest man!” as we passed one another. He smiled back and nodded, and I felt relieved that I wasn’t wrong, despite my cringing approach. That ‘fastest man’ was Andy Wallace, the Le Mans winner and Bugatti test driver who, in August 2019, drove the aptly namedChiron Super Sport 300+to 304.77mph at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien test track. If you followed the story at the time you’ll know that, while 30 Super Sport 300+s were planned (all of which have been sold), the £3.1m model has yet to gain European type approval for its top speed, meaning that the production cars remain limited to 273mph.

So please allow us this small transgression for the sake of our headline figure…

Nonetheless, take any type-approved Chiron – ‘standard’ model, Sport, Pur Sport or Super Sport/300+ – and its only true rival for fastest production car honours in the 2010s and 2020s will be one of its siblings. No great shock, when the range’s top-speed bandwidth falls between an electronically limited 261 and 273mph.

But let’s start with the original launch model. Making its debut at Geneva in March 2016, it used the same basic ingredients as the Veyron it succeeded: engine capacity and configuration, transmission and chassis layout all remained unchanged. However, to cope with the sharp increase in power, the 1184bhp Veyron Super Sport’s engine (from which the Chiron’s is derived) received a stronger crank and conrods. The size of the four turbochargers was also increased significantly, a move that would normally lead to greater lag under acceleration. But this was countered cleverly by sending all exhaust gases through two turbos below 3800rpm, then through all four thereafter.

The already hugely capable braking system from the Veyron was upgraded to cope with the Chiron’s even greater top-speed potential. Disc size was increased by 20mm all round to 420mm (front) and 400mm (rear), controlled by eight and six-pot calipers respectively. The body itself was markedly different from the Veyron’s, with a large but functional C-shaped scallop arcing from roof to sill and incorporating vital inlets for cooling air to the engine, its carbonfibre construction providing quite staggering torsional rigidity of 50,000Nm per degree and flexural rigidity of 0.25mm per tonne.

Even for those well read in supercar lore, the resultant numbers were extraordinary. Power rose to 1479bhp at 6700rpm and torque to 1180lb ft between 2000 and 6000rpm – a yet bigger spread than before. And to illustrate what the Chiron could achieve in extremis, Bugatti employed ex-F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya to generate some data. Within a two-mile stretch of Bugatti’s test facility, he accelerated from 0-249mph in 32.6 secs and back to standstill in just 9.4 secs.

Enough? Apparently not, hence the Super Sport 300+ model that gives us our magical maximum. Developed by Bugatti’s head of exterior design, Frank Heyl, in conjunction with Michelin and engineering firm Dallara, the Chiron adopted a 9.8in-longer rear end for better aerodynamics, a power boost to 1578bhp, a narrower rear wing and a drag-reducing, laser-controlled ride-height system. Crucially, Wallace’s record car had no limiter but was fitted with a full rollcage and myriad test equipment during the top-speed attempt.

Our test Chiron is a mere ‘standard’ model, and again I haven’t been given ‘the key’ that releases its full majesty. But it would be pointless at Prestwold, anyway. Ahead is one of the most elegant airbag-equipped steering wheels I’ve seen. Ferrari Manettino-style controls sprout from under its spokes, and a launch switch sits below the leather-trimmed hub. The centre console, like the Veyron’s, remains simplicity itself but is far narrower, still holding the heater controls and a shifter for the dual-clutch auto ’box. You already know I’m going to tell you the Chiron is fast, but with 500bhp more than the already bombastic Veyron, normal superlatives simply don’t do it justice. We make three, full-bore rolling starts from 30mph: the rear wheels scrabble slightly and, manually shifting the gears, we nudge 150mph each time before having to brake hard for corners (damn those corners). Objectively, engaging all four turbos is so much easier than in the Veyron, with a commensurate lift in low-end performance that is by any measure stratospheric. It’s the sheer lack of drama with which the Chiron goes about its business that impresses most, though: unrelenting, mesmerising, frightening amounts of power are deployed with an almost serene mechanical indifference.

Is our story’s final Vmax legend the pinnacle of combustion-engined brilliance, or the last bastion of automotive profligacy? I fear the answer to that question is probably both.

Thanks to Tom Hartley Jnr (01283 761119; tomhartleyjnr.com)



Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner is the only human faster than a jumbo jet. On 14 October 2012 he jumped from a balloon 24 miles above the ground and, at an estimated maximum of 843.6mph, became the first person to break the sound barrier relative to the Earth’s surface without mechanical power, setting records for exit altitude and freefall distance

TECHNICAL DATA FILE2019 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+

  • Sold/number built 2019-date/30
  • Engine all-alloy, dohc-per-bank 7993cc W16, with four turbochargers and electronic fuel injection
  • Max power 1578bhp @ 4200rpm
  • Max torque n/a
  • Transmission seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
  • Suspension independent, by double wishbones, self-damping hydraulics
  • Steering rack and pinion
  • Brakes carbon-ceramic discs, with servo and anti-lock
  • Weight n/a
  • 0-60mph 2.3 secs
  • Top speed 304.8mph
  • Price new £3.1m

Clockwise: elegant cabin; chassis layout unchanged from the Veyron; W16 yields up to 1578bhp; this standard car does without low-drag system of 300+

Article type:
No comments yet. Be the first to add a comment!
Drives TODAY use cookie