Driven: Bugatti Chiron
Wow! I’ve driven a lot of cars in my career, so it takes something really special to get my attention. Well, let me tell you, the Bugatti Chiron is really special; like nothing else I’ve driven, other than maybe the Bugatti Veyron I drove a few years ago. If you’re looking for exclusivity, this is the car for you. Bugatti has sold only 100 cars in the U.S. since 2016, and only 400 worldwide. The Chiron is expected to be sold out by the end of the year.
Though it sounds Italian, Bugatti is actually a French car manufacturer, founded 110 years ago by Ettore Bugatti who had a rich racing history, particularly pre-war. It is now part of the Volkswagen group. Bugatti assigned me 20-plus pages of reading homework to ensure I was well-versed with ‘the ultimate super sports car’ before I got behind the wheel. The materials stated, “The Chiron is the result of our efforts to make the best even better.” That is spot on.
Unfortunately, it rained the day of my test drive, so I had to be a bit more conservative than I would have liked, but I still got a good feel for the Chiron’s handling, balance and especially power. With all four wheels being driven by a 1,500-horsepower, 16-cylinder, quad-turbo engine, even rain couldn’t diminish its astronomical acceleration. I got a feel for what the astronauts must have felt on their way to the moon. Under ideal conditions, zero to 60 mph takes only 2.4 seconds. Since I was on public roads, I didn’t want to push it much past triple digits, but even at close to double the speed limit, it felt like I was only pushing the accelerator about a quarter of the way down.
Power is disseminated through a 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters, so going fast is just a matter of pushing your right foot down. The paddle shifters would come in handy on the track around corners. Steering is nice and tight, and handling is like you’re on rails, thanks in part to its new adaptive chassis. Carbon ceramic brakes that could stop time complete the performance trifecta. The active rear wing can act as an air brake for heart-stopping deceleration, in addition to creating downforce at speed. Due to weather, I didn’t test the Chiron’s 261 mph top speed or its drift mode. It was easy to pilot driving around town and was surprisingly not touchy.
The two-seat cockpit is traditional and timeless (as opposed to trendy high-tech), with more gauges than screens. It offers the interior you’d expect in a multimillion-dollar car, with rich leather and solid aluminum. Seats were essentially like in a race car with extreme bolstering, but they were pretty comfortable once settled. Everything in the cockpit fits the single purpose of the car: performance. Due to its shape, rear visibility is not great, but it does have a back-up camera. Unique styling elements include the famous Bugatti horseshoe grille, and a beautiful C-shaped element flowing from the roof to the rear to the rocker panels. The luggage compartment is even big enough to hold a carry-on. I like the design motto: “Form follows performance.”
Though it’s a phenomenal car, the price is still breathtaking. The gas-guzzler tax alone is $7,700. The car I drove had $500,000 worth of options! That’s five new Porsche 911s. This is a car you buy because you want to and, if you’re part of the 1%, because you can.
According to Cedric Davy, marketing manager of Bugatti of the Americas, “The Chiron is an art form with technology, performance, design and comfort. I think the tremendous torque is its best feature.” I’d have to agree. I was lucky enough to be the last to test drive this car in the U.S. before it was sent back to France to be refurbished.
» Base: $3 million
» As driven with options: $3.5 million
» 9 city
» 14 highway
» Mid engine
» All-wheel drive
» 8.0-litre W-16 engine with 4 turbochargers
» 1,500 horsepower
» 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission
» Titanium exhaust
Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.