2021 Bugatti Chiron Sport • 2021 Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport
Some emails are better than others. Case in point: When Bugatti PR asks if you’d like to compare and contrast the Chiron Sport against the new Chiron Pur Sport (pronounced “pure sport”), well, that’s a pretty good email. Yes, I spent a day driving two cars that between them have 3,000 horsepower, 32 cylinders, eight turbochargers, 128 valves, and 20 radiators. Together, they cost north of $7.7 million. That’s $3,757,150 for the blue exposed-carbon-fiber Chiron Sport and $3,959,000 for the Jet Grey Pur Sport. I’ll get to the differences between them, but first a little story about the first time I drove a Bugatti.
In 2010, Bugatti unveiled the Veyron Super Sport at the annual Pebble Beach hootenanny. The ultimate Veyron was fresh off its (then) record-setting top-speed assault, where Pierre-Henri Raphanel piloted the 1,200-hp mega-thing to a Guinness-certified top speed of 268 mph. I was a Bentley guest at Pebble, and at dinner I sat across from Franz-Josef Paefgen, who at the time was CEO of both Bentley and Bugatti. I peppered him with questions about Veyron development; he was brought in to “fix” the car halfway through its evolution from fever dream of Volkswagen Group übermensch Ferdinand Piëch to its eventual 1,001-PS (987 SAE hp) reality.
There were nine issues, Paefgen explained, that held up Veyron production. Around the meal’s third course, our conversation turned to the Super Sport. “Dr. Paefgen, isn’t 268 mph getting silly?” I’ll never forget his response.
He nodded and replied in his deep German accent: “Yes, I agree with you. Top speed is for the children. The Veyron, as you know, is about acceleration and braking.” I didn’t know, as I’d never driven a Veyron. He looked stunned, then pointed his large finger at me. “You’ve never driven a Veyron?” he asked rhetorically. He then turned a few degrees to my left, pointed that same finger at the PR woman seated beside me, and declared, “This man must drive a Veyron.” A few minutes later my phone exploded. “Would tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. work for you?” It’s good to dine with the king.
That next morning, I drove a topless Veyron Grand Sport. Since then, I’ve driven more than my fair share of Bugatti hypercars, including a regular Veyron and a couple Vitesses (the 1,184-hp Targa topped final Veyrons), one of which used to belong to Arnold Schwarzenegger— cigar burn on the leather and everything. The 1,479-hp Chiron succeeded the Veyron in 2016, but until now I’d never driven one, let alone two.
The Chiron Sport is, shocker, a sportier version of the Chiron. To put the idea into more digestible terms, Chiron to Chiron Sport is like going from a Porsche 911 Carrera S to a GTS. Nothing too crazy has happened, but the result is a better-driving car. Specifically, the Sport is 40 pounds lighter, has better aero and a torque-vectoring differential on the rear axle, and rides on a stiffer suspension.
The incredibly attractive full carbon fiber Turquoise Blue example came loaded with $509,150 in options. To be fair, the exposed carbon accounts for $315,000, and things like the $71,300 wheels and $62,000 French Blue leather and carbon interior make up the rest. To be fairer, the wheels are fantastic. Full price is, again, $3,757,150, more than most midcentury masterpiece homes. You must try to block the price from your brain while driving cars like this. It’s the only way.
What’s 1,500 metric horsepower like? Silly. As Paefgen said about the Veyron, the Chiron Sport is half about acceleration. But forget about the horsepower; concentrate instead on the 1,180 lb-ft of thunderous, hammer-time torque available from 2,000 to 6,000 rpm. (Redline happens at 6,700.) Those aren’t even the interesting numbers. We know this particular Sport cleared the quarter mile in less than 9.5 seconds at nearly 160 mph. Kids, that’s a production street car, one you can buy! Well, you can’t buy one, but there are a couple dozen humans who can. The initial acceleration isn’t scary even though 4,500-plus pounds moving so quickly would and should frighten the pants off most observers and passengers. I’ve experienced the same sort of launch in cars like the Tesla Model S P100D Ludicrous, Porsche 911 Turbo S, and McLaren 765LT.
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