What it's like to drive the fastest road car in the world
There is a moment driving the new Bugatti Chiron when you appreciate precisely what it is that the world’s wealthiest individuals are paying for.
And that moment happens the first time you floor the throttle and feel the 8-litre, W16 engine passing 3,800rpm. We know this because we are on our way to test out the all conquering hyper-car as it makes its debut in the Gulf.
The world’s fastest and most expensive road car is waiting at the foothills of the UAE’s famous Jabal Hafeet mountain. “Hold on, because after that corner I’m going to accelerate,” warns Le Mans-winning driver Andy Wallace as we take our seat next to him in a purring, stationary gold-and-black Chiron.
Bugatti plan to only produce 500 of these, and such is the reverence for the Chiron that the municipality has allowed us to temporarily close entire road so that we can fully experience the raw power of this near US$2 million car.
The instant acceleration hits you like a kick to the chest. We let out an uncontrollable yelp of both fear and delight as the raw energy of the remarkable 1500hp is unleashed. Imagine that feeling of taking off in a passenger jet, times that by five and factor in that there is no actual lift off.
But more than a flat-track bully, the handling of the Chiron is as equally impressive as its acceleration. I nervously wipe my hands as I take my seat behind the wheel, very aware that the waiver I just signed was to the tune of two lifetimes of salaries. The car is like nothing else we’ve experienced. Corners are negotiated at triple-digit speeds, while the tires remain glued to the ground, as if on a scalextrics track. The only giveaway being that while the car goes one direction, the skin on your face goes the other.
What is surprisingly impressive is the suspension, it glides over bumps and gravel. Whizzing down the winding road. It is so easy to drive that my grandmother (who is in her 80s) could drive it to the shops and back. It is that easy to drive.
Forget the now-retired Veyron. After driving the Bugatti Chiron there can be no doubt that it is the ultimate hand in a game of Top Trumps. Its statistics will make your head go light. It has an 8-litre engine. It has 16-cylinders, and forcing more performance out of those cylinders are not 1 or 2 or 3, but 4 turbochargers, and it has a restricted top speed of 400kph. The result is what puts the word ‘hyper’ into ‘hypercar’.