What is a hypercar? It's a term that's tossed around too frequently these days, but there's no question that the Bugatti Chiron is one. Introduced for the 2017 model year as a successor to the legendary Veyron, the Chiron is even more superlative—its power, performance, and panache exceed that of nearly any other car that makes that hyper claim.
At the core of the Chiron's otherworldly performance is its engine: a quad-turbocharged, 8.0-liter W-16. Mounted in the middle of the Chiron's carbon-fiber monocoque, it produces an incredible 1,479 horsepower and 1,165 lb-ft of torque. Joined to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, that output twists the tarmac courtesy of AWD. The result is acceleration that exceeds nearly anything with four wheels. Another result is absolutely terrible fuel economy—the Chiron is EPA-rated at just 9/14 mpg city/highway.
Before you put the Chiron's right-side pedal to the floor, we suggest firmly bracing yourself against the seat. If you don't, this vehicle's unrelenting acceleration will do it for you. Bugatti claims 0-60-mph acceleration takes less than 2.5 seconds, which, although extremely impressive, is comparable to some more common, less expensive vehicles. It's what happens next that's truly incredible. Hitting 124 mph takes less than 6.5 seconds, and 186 mph—far beyond the top speed of most normal cars—is reached in no more than 13.6 seconds. But even then, the Chiron is only just hitting its stride. It continues to rocket forward all the way to its electronically limited maximum speed of 261 mph.
How fast is the Chiron without that limiter? A specially prepared Chiron achieved over 304 mph, making it (at one time) the world's fastest production car.
Unlike the Veyron before it, there is no Chiron convertible—at least, not yet. Bugatti says it has no plans for an open-air Chiron, but time will tell what the marque works up before the production run is through. For the moment, Chiron clients will have to settle for the Sky View roof option, which adds a large glass panel above each seat. Although they're fixed in place, these windows help provide an airy ambiance to the Chiron's cabin. Tall drivers, take note—they also add a little more headroom.
Although the Chiron's speed will stupefy even the most spoiled supercar driver, it's tuned to provide luxurious gran turismo sensations more than hardcore apex-crushing handling. That changes in the Chiron Sport, and even more in the Chiron Pur Sport. These two tunes provide increasing degrees of sharpness, cutting weight and stiffening suspension to increase their racy feel. In the case of the Chiron Pur Sport, shorter gear ratios make acceleration even more rapid, while a huge fixed rear wing adds downforce. The result is reduced top speed—just 218 mph—but overall dynamics that should rival any track-focused sports car.
Few automakers are immune from platform sharing. Development expenses are so great that they must tweak a vehicle architecture for different applications to amortize costs—the Lamborghini Huracan and Audi R8 are great examples. Bugatti does it too, but the results are more impressive than, say, with a Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. There's the Divo, which wears ultra-aggressive bodywork and is tuned for racetrack performance. The Centodieci is a crazy-looking creation with styling inspired by the iconic Bugatti EB110. Then there's La Voiture Noire—The Black Car—a one-off masterpiece which pays homage to the brand's early vehicles and costs nearly $20,000,000. It's an example of how, for the right price, Bugatti will do nearly anything to help achieve its clientele's dreams.
The Chiron represents superlatives in speed and exclusivity. To own such a privilege commands a superlative price: The Chiron starts at $2,998,000. That's before options, and options are plentiful—exposed carbon bodywork, custom paints and trims, or the Sky View roof can easily add six figures to the window sticker.
Let's put $2,998,000 into perspective. That'll get you a nice house and a huge plot of land in most parts of the country. It could buy you a piece of famous artwork, or a nice little pile of diamonds. But we're car enthusiasts, so a more relatable equation is what cars you could buy instead of a Chiron. You could have the range-topping version of every car in Porsche's lineup and still have nearly $2 million left over. You could own most of the cars from our 2019 and 2020 Best Driver's Car competitions—with vehicles like the McLaren Senna, Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, Ferrari F8 Tributo, and Lamborghini Huracan Evo among them. Is the Chiron's price worth it? For what you could get instead, it's a tough question to answer. But this is certain: Whoever decides to buy a Chiron won't be disappointed.