They’ve finally gone and done it. After all the flexing and special edition cars and new contenders, it is Bugatti that is the first series car manufacturer to smash past the 300mph.
Watch this purpose-built Chiron achieve this legendary milestone of automotive excellence here:
The iconic Ferrari F40 was the first road-legal production car to break the 200mph barrier back in 1987. Around 6 years later, the McLaren F1 took the crown for fastest production car in the world with a record of 243mph. Its reign lasted over a decade before being taken down by the one-and-only Bugatti Veyron (2005) which hit a top speed of 253mph followed by the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport which set a new record for a road-legal car at 267.85mph in 2013. A remarkable figure for a car that one could drive to the shops in their shorts.
Of course, when you’re the one to beat, there are plenty to come for your throne and many tried and while most were all talk, some were worthy challengers. In 2016, the new Bugatti series production model was launched, a successor to the Veyron – the Chiron. We all expected it..no. We WANTED it to be faster. But Bugatti did not give us a top-speed number, saying instead that the Chiron would be restricted to a max of 261mph. That alone is no small number but there needed to be a new record and the Veyron’s successor would surely be faster, no?
Of the many obstacles to crossing 300mph, the one cited most frequently was that they couldn’t find a tyre that would survive the speed run. Then came the Hennessey Venom F5 with a similar aim and mission – to break that invisible speed barrier. This American car shop had already proved its tuning prowess in the pursuit of speed, so this challenge was not to be taken lightly. Still, Bugatti did not respond, working away on magnificent special edition hypercars based around the Chiron.
Then in November 2017, another top-speed rival decided to show its engineering prowess – Koenigsegg. An independent Swedish carmaker, famous for really fast, really exclusive hypercars that pushed the boundaries of automotive engineering. Using a customer car and a closed-off public road, the Koenigsegg Agera RS clocked a top speed of 284.5mph as it took the title for world’s fastest road car. The Bugatti was finally dethroned and the French carmaker still hadn’t pushed the Chiron to its limits.
New, all-electric cars with thousands of horsepowers and even more torque were getting closer too. The race is not just to reach 300mph, but to do it first. Koenigsegg had since entered their new hypercar into contention – the Jesko. But the world did not hear a peep from Bugatti about the magical 300mph. Until today.
A month after the actual run took place, Bugatti announced to the world that it had verifiably broken the 300mph barrier. It took a dedicated team of specialists 6 months to retrofit a Chiron to be as slippery through the air as possible so that it could achieve this ridonculous speed – 304.77mph (491kph).
That figure was verified by TÜV – Germany’s Technical Inspection Association. It was set at Ehra-Lessien and the man at the wheel was Andy Wallace. The project team comprised of wizards from Bugatti, Michelin and Dallara.
The 300mph Chiron is 25cm longer and sits lower than the stock version. Its long tail’s cross-section sits above the over-and-under tailpipes. This pushes the exhaust emissions as far from the rear end as possible to reduce their influence on drag and aero. To further reduce drag, the Chiron’s rear wing and airbrake has been replaced by a static fixture built into the tail. The front end features bigger, wider intakes to feed air to its massive engine.
“The biggest challenge is to get the overall package right, not only design, not only aerodynamics, not only engine, not only tyres. It’s to get everything together and working in one car,” says Frank Heyl, head of exterior design at Bugatti.
On the inside as well, the Chiron’s fancy and opulent fittings are ditched in favour of reducing weight. The passenger seat is replaced by a bunch of gizmos and systems. It has a full roll cage and a safety seat for the driver among other measures to put this Chiron on a diet to go really, really fast.
Aerodynamics sorted, let’s talk power. You’d need a lot of it to reach 300mph. The stock Chiron offers 1479bhp which is a lot, but not quite enough thought the Bugatti engineers and so they began their magic on the powertrain. The 300mph Chiron also has an 8.0-litre, quad-turbo W16 engine but this one is a bit special as it produces a maximum of 1578bhp. Bugatti nicknamed this engine as Thor. Takes a whole new meaning to “putting the hammer down” doesn’t it?
This special engine still uses the same gearbox and 4WD powertrain as the stock Chiron, which is also a testament to Bugatti’s engineering capabilities.
While Bugatti has not said so themselves, there will inevitably be a Super Sport version of the Chiron. Future Bugs will also be improved and honed by the lessons learned in breaching the 300mph mark.
“Our goal was to be the first manufacturer ever to reach the magic 300mph mark. We have now achieved this – making ourselves, the entire team and myself, incredibly proud.” With this record, Bugatti will also withdraw from the competition to produce the fastest serial production cars. “We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In future we will focus on other areas,” says Bugatti President, Stephan Winkelmann.
Now it’s only a matter of time to see how the likes of Hennessey and Koenigsegg decide to respond. After all, this Chiron wasn’t street spec and that title is still up for grabs. Don’t forget about the SSC Tuatara either.
What do you make of Bugatti being the first to reach 300mph? Do you agree it looks prettier than the usual Chiron? Share your thoughts in the comments below the gallery. Leave a like if you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to subscribe to The Auto Loons for all the updates on our latest content.