BUGATTI claims it’s set an all-new automotive world speed record after it clocked a modified Chiron at more than 300mph.
According to the luxury car maker, the record set on August 2 at Volkswagen’s high-speed test track at Ehra-Lessien saw Bugatti test driver and 1988 Le Mans winner Andy Wallace hit a staggering 304.773mph.
As well as being far in excess of the speed Bugatti Chiron customer cars can manage (an electronically-limited, not-exactly-slow 261mph), it also makes the French firm the first to break the 300mph barrier in a production car-based model.
While the Chiron is by no means a slouch in its out-of-the-box guise, Bugatti did need to modify the car in order for it to reach those monumental speeds. Perhaps the most obvious change has been made to the rear of the vehicle, where new components such as the “longtail” extended bodywork and the colossal diffuser have been added to help improve the airflow above and underneath the Bugatti.
The standard Chiron’s horizontal exhaust array has also been replaced with a pair of vertical stacks that protrude from the back of the car; likely to ensure the hot exhaust gases don’t interrupt the airflow while the vehicle is covering a mile every 12 seconds.
Other big changes include aggressively-cut air ducts behind the front wheel arches and more substantial air intakes up front, which ensure the Chiron swallows enough air to cool down the Bugatti’s amazing 8-litre, quad-turbocharged W16 petrol engine.
Bugatti hasn’t revealed how much power this particular Chiron has up its sleeve, though it’s suspected the engine was the same 1,577bhp W16 used in the limited-run Bugatti Centodieci revealed at Pebble Beach last month, rather than the regular Chiron’s 1,477bhp mill.
As undeniably impressive as the 304mph+ run was, it doesn’t now make the Bugatti Chiron the world’s fastest production car. Because the vehicle used was, as Bugatti calls it, a “near production prototype derivative”, it means the officially verified production car record of 277.87mph set in November 2017 with a Koneigsegg Agera RS remains unbroken for now, at least.
It also remains to be seen whether this marks the end of the Chiron’s high speed exploits. While Bugatti has confirmed it will now “focus on other areas” outside of setting new speed records, the fact it achieved a run in a pre-production model suggests the many go-faster parts could find their way onto an even more extreme Chiron road car,
Regardless of whether Bugatti will call it a day for now, other car companies have expressed an interest in building the first 300mph-capable production model. Koenigsegg is developing a version of its new Jesko hypercar that, according to its simulation data, should be capable of reaching that speed, and the American supercar company SSC (which used to hold the production car speed record with its 256mph Ultimate Aero TT) claims it has “full confidence” in its Tuatara hypercar having the performance needed to exceed 300mph.