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Geneva show: Bugatti unveils 420km/h hypercar

Power plus: Bugatti's new king of the mountain, the Chiron, has a drift mode for billionaire hoons.

New 1103kW Bugatti Chiron set to rewrite the record books for a lucky few


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1 Mar 2016

WITH the power of 11 Toyota Corollas, the world's most powerful production car, the Bugatti Chiron, has been introduced in Switzerland on the eve of the annual Geneva motor show where it will take centre stage.

Just 500 of the Veyron successors will be built at Bugatti's Molsheim factory in France, with about a third of them already spoken for at a European price of €2.4 million ($A3.66 million).

Current Bugatti owners are getting priority, with one customer reportedly ordering a neat half dozen of the hypercars sight unseen. That's about €14.4 million ($A22m) worth, minus a fleet discount, of course.

And no, it will not be built in right-hand drive, so like the sole Bugatti Veyron brought into Australia by a Melbourne enthusiast, it cannot be registered here.

First deliveries are expected in the third quarter of this year, at the rate of about one a week.

Packing 1103kW of power and 1600Nm of torque from its quad-turbo 8.0-litre W16 engine, the Chiron is said to be able to hit 100km/h in “less than 2.5 seconds”, despite weighing a tick under two tonnes.

But safety advocates can rest easy: the Chiron's top-speed has been electronically limited to a mere 420km/h – short of the world-record 431km/h set by the most powerful version of the Veyron, the 883kW Super Sport.

Of course, that does not mean that Bugatti won't switch off the speed nanny and have another crack at a new world speed record for a production car, which it says it has every intention of doing at some point. Afterall, the speedo goes up to 500km/h.

Unveiling the new Chiron at a special media event, Bugatti Automobile president Wolfgang Dürheimer indicated that Bugatti set out to smash records with the latest model.

“It is part of human nature to cross boundaries and set new records – to run 100 metres faster than ever before, to fly even further into space and to enter new realms,” he said. “This striving is also our driving force at Bugatti.”

Bugatti claims every Chiron will make money for parent company Volkswagen Group, unlike the Veyron, which reportedly cost VW a large wedge of cash for every one sold over its 10-year reign as the world's pre-eminent road car.

Sitting on an all-new, race-car-style carbon-fibre platform with a honeycomb floor, the Chiron is bigger in every dimension than the Veyron, although the wheelbase of 2711mm is just one millimetre longer than before. Overall length is a 4544mm – 82mm longer than its predecessor – and width is 40mm greater, at 2038mm.

The massive mid-mounted engine that resembles two V8s line astern is carried over from the Veyron, but it gets four larger turbochargers that blow sequentially – two at up to 3800rpm and then all four.

Other changes include a carbon-fibre inlet and an all-new titanium exhaust system that feeds the exhaust gases through no fewer than six catalytic converters.

Peak torque is reached at a mere 2000rpm and continues all the way to 6000rpm, just as the power is peaking at 6700rpm.

That's good enough to take the Chiron and its white-knuckle occupants from a standing start to 200km/h in 6.4 seconds – about the same time as handy family sedan reaches 100km/h.

The Chiron distributes all that grunt to the tarmac via an upgraded seven-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system that this time has an electronically controlled multi-plate central clutch for variable distribution between the front and back axles.

Michelin was called in to custom-make the 285/30 ZR20 front and 355/25 ZR21 tyres.

If the driver wishes – and is brave enough – those tyres can be torn up by billionaire hoons in short order by selecting drift mode.

Regular driving modes cater for driving up to 380km/h, but to ensure the driver is absolutely certain they want the full 400-plus experience, Bugatti requires them to stop and insert a special Speed Key.

This lowers the active rear wing to improve straight-line speed, but of course, reduces downforce – a move that requires careful consideration.

The air suspension has active adjustment according to speed and driving style, along with five-mode variable ride height adjustment. This includes a lift mode to avoid scraping that expensive front splitter.

Steering is now electro-mechanical in the modern fashion.

The Chiron gets bigger carbon-ceramic brake discs – 420mm on the front and 400mm at the rear – with eight-piston front and six-piston rear callipers.

And because it needs all the help it can get in stopping from 420km/h, an air brake can be deployed.

With all the anchors out, the Chiron can stop from 300km/h in 275 metres.

The bigger footprint has delivered more cabin space for the driver and passenger, including extra headroom.

Cloaked in a mix of leather, carbon-fibre and aluminium, the interior is massively opulent, while thoroughly sporty.

Apparently, the passenger front airbag can be deployed through the carbon-fibre dash, in a world first.

Exterior wise, the Chiron shares many of its cues with the Vision Gran Turismo concept shown at last year's Frankfurt motor show, although the racing spoilers and other excess have been toned down.

The famed horseshoe-shaped grille is front and centre, while at the back, four exhaust ports are centrally mounted in the diffuser.

A fin runs down the centre of the roof to the tail of the boot.

Lights are LEDS all round, with the back getting a simple but stunning single red LED strip almost the full width of the vehicle.

Like the Veyron, the Chiron is expected to get various upgrades during its life, including more powerful versions.

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