Because really, where are you going to find a road straight enough to do 300mph?
When Ferdinand Piech resurrected Bugatti in 1998, he gave the company an engineering brief: build a car with at least 986hp (735kW), capable of 249mph (400km/h). Oh, and it had to be as drivable as a Volkswagen Golf. That car became the Veyron EB 16.4, and when it went into production in 2005, it met that challenge, boasting 1,001 metric horsepower (987hp/736kW) and a top speed of 253mph (408km/h), all for a cool million Euros (or about $1.3 million at the time).
But that was just the starting point. In 2016, the brand followed up the Veyron with the Chiron, another mid-engined two-seater, powered by another quad-turbo 8.0L W16 engine. The price of admission had gone up, but so had the power and top speed, a trend that has continued with derivatives like the Chiron Super Sport that reached an almost unbelievable 305mph (490km/h) in testing last year.
Slower, but quicker?
Topping that number seems difficult, which may be why the latest iteration of the Chiron—called the Chiron Pur Sport—is actually the slowest Bugatti since the EB110 of the mid-90s. Slowest as in top speed, at least, as the Pur Sport is electronically limited to a mere 218mph (350km/h). The Pur Sport might not be the fastest Bugatti, but it may well be the quickest.
The 1,500hp (1,119kW) W16 engine has been reworked to provide a quicker throttle response, with the redline extended from 6,700rpm to 6,900rpm. And 80 percent of the gearbox is new, with 15-percent shorter gear ratios than any other Chiron. In fact, according to Jachin Schwalbe, Bugatti’s head of chassis development, 7th gear in the Pur Sport is almost the same ratio as 6th gear in a regular Chiron—hence the much lower top speed. The flip side is that those more closely stacked gear ratios are better able to keep the engine in its powerband.
Zero to 62mph (100km/h) is 0.1 seconds faster than the regular Chiron, taking just 2.3 seconds. Zero to 124mph (200km/h) gains another tenth over the regular car, and one more to 186mph (300km/h)—this takes just 12.4 vs 13.1 seconds. Which is shockingly quick, when you think about it. The feeling of your internal organs shifting under G as you violently launch can be a lot of fun, as both muscle car and Tesla owners will confirm. But there aren’t that many settings where running up through the gears from a standstill is appropriate—maybe only the drag strip and the highway toll booth.
A better measure of the Pur Sport’s increased drivability shows up on the timesheet when you look at the numbers for in-gear acceleration, specifically sixth gear. And I’m not talking about velocities you’re only likely to use on the remaining bits of derestricted Autobahn in Germany, either. Going from 37-62mph (60-100km/h) in sixth takes 5.7 seconds in a Chiron; in a Pur Sport it takes 3.4 seconds. 37-75mph (60-120km/h) takes 4.4 seconds in the Pur Sport, 3 seconds less than the normal car. The improvement in its 50-75mph (80120km/h) time is even more impressive, 2.4 seconds in the Pur Sport versus 4.3 seconds in a Chiron.