Top Gear South Africa
The Need ForSpeed Image Credit: Top Gear South Africa
The Need ForSpeed Image Credit: Top Gear South Africa

The Need For Speed

Breaking the 480kph barrier has become an obsession for the hypercar manufacturers. Here’s the story of how Bugatti got there first

Charlie Turner

For most, 420kph – the top speed of a ‘regular’ Chiron – would be sufficient. In the hypercar world, however, being the fastest takes on a whole new importance. It’s a fundamental selling point, and, while some of the metrics driving purchases are subjective, being the fastest is binary. In recent years, the battle to claim the title between SSC (412.28kph two-way average, 2007) Hennessey (435.31kph two-way average, 2013) and Koenigsegg (457.94kph vmax, 447.19kph two-way average, 2017) has brought the record within touching distance of the mythical 300mph (480kph). It’s also taken away Bugatti’s dominance since 2010, something the team from Molsheim is keen to redress.

“Being the fastest is not the right expression,” says Stefan Ellrott, head of development for Bugatti. “Moving boundaries would be better. Bugatti is known for moving boundaries. Right now, the 480kph barrier for a hypersports car is the boundary we would like to achieve. At this kind of speed, normally aeroplanes are flying, and you have to make sure the car is stable, that it will stay on the ground and not be nervous. And the driver has to feel confident to drive at that kind of speed without any risk.”

And so, over the past six months, a team of engineers from Bugatti, Michelin

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