A pre-production version of a Bugatti Chiron “derivative” smashed through the 300 mph ceiling, the automaker has confirmed, setting the stage for a final version to retake the world land speed record crown.
The automaker isn’t providing many details about the hypercar that hit 304.77 mph during one of its runs at the Ehra-Lessien proving ground in the German state of Lower Saxony. If it can even come close once the production model is ready, it could blow the current record held by a Koenigsegg Agera RS totally out of the water.
“Bugatti has once again shown what it’s capable of. With this new record of the Chiron we enter again uncharted territory,” said Stephan Winkelmann, president of Bugatti. “Our goal was to be the first manufacturer ever to reach the magic 300-mile-per-hour mark. We have now achieved this – making ourselves, the entire team and myself, incredibly proud.”
While there is no doubt that the prototype that made the run at the Ehra-Lessien proving grounds is a Bugatti Chiron, the exact version is unclear. The automaker has been rolling out not only more powerful versions of the original hypercar but also a series of special-edition models, such as the $8.9 million Cenodieci that was unveiled at the Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, last month.
That special model punches out a blinding 1,600 horsepower from its 8.0-liter W-16 engine, enough to launch the two-seater from 0-100 kmh (62 mph) in just 2.4 seconds, and hit 200 (125 mph) in 6.1 seconds.
Top speed, Winkelmann said at the August debut, will be electronically limited to 380 kmh, or 213 mph. It is unclear if, as it has done with other models, Bugatti will make it possible to remove that limiter – perhaps for a record speed run.
Some observers have suggested, however, that the version of the Chiron that topped 300 mph is a new Chiron Super Sport.
What can be seen from these images, and a video of the record run, is that there have been some substantial aerodynamic upgrades made to the “stock” Chiron, starting with larger front ducts, a new diffuser, wider side skirts and an extended tail, The suspension has also been lowered a bit.
Much of the emphasis was on maximizing downforce, said Stefan Ellrott, Bugatti’s head of development, noting that “At that kind of speed, normally airplanes are flying in the air. You have to make sure the car stays on the ground.”
The stock Michelin tires used on the Chiron also were beefed up to handle the massive stresses experienced while rotating 4,100 times per minute.
The prototype was driven by Le Mans winner and Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace on Aug. 2, 2019, Bugatti announced.
“An incredible speed,” Wallace said in a Bugatti statement that noted he worked up to the 304.77 mph record speed in increments to ensure the car was up to the task. “It’s inconceivable that a car would be capable of this. But the Chiron was well prepared and I felt very safe – even in these high speed ranges.”
Wallace is no stranger to the record books. The British driver took the land speed crown once before, piloting a McLaren F1 to 391 kmh, or 243 mph, back in 1998.