The Bugatti Veyron hit the world of supercars over the head with a hammer. In a world where 600hp was still hypercar territory, the Veyron came in with 1,000hp. It was the first road car to crack the 250mph barrier, it was the most expensive car on sale, it had the most radiators… essentially it was the Guiness Book of World Records on four wheels.
Bugatti just released their next-generation hypercar, the Chiron, at the Geneva Motor Show this week, and it’s the exact same recipie as the Veyron. I mean, sure it has 500 more horsepower than the original Veyron had, and sure it looks a little fancier, but it’s really just more of the same ingredients. It’s the same type of car, but is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
With all of the neat facts behind it, the Bugatti Veyron was very cool for a while. But then it sort of became a cliché, once it started showing up in every rap video or pulling up slowly on the red carpet. This engineering masterpiece seemed to have been hijacked by the status symbol crowd, and that made the Veyron somewhat “played out” among us hardcore gearheads.
That said, when looking at modern Bugattis, you need to realize that their biggest engineering achievement isn’t their top speed or acceleration, but the fact that a Bugatti makes using such performance so easy. It’s very accessible for an average driver. Your grandmother could be doing 200mph, and feel like she’s going 70 in a normal car.
This accessibility, in addition to it’s brag-able feats, is why the Veyron became so popular with rich people who are more casually interested in cars. It was as at home cruising around town as it was ripping insane speeds on the open highway. And for the level of performance it had, it wasn’t even that scary.
Try to do the same with a McLaren F1 or a Hennessey Venom GT. You won’t be comfortable, and you may actually kill yourself if you’re car control skills aren’t well-honed. The Bugatti gives buyers all of that hypercar performance while requiring very little driving skill to operate.
So, say you’re a movie producer and you’ve spent your whole life becoming successful in the film industry. You want to buy a flashy dream car with all the money you’ve earned, but you haven’t put much effort into learning high performance driving. In fact, you really just want a car to show off to your friends, but one that can surely blow away their run-of-the-mill Ferraris or Lambos. A Bugatti is your perfect car, hands-down.
In truth, there are many people out there with more money than driving skills, and there is a big demand for a hypercar that caters to them. That is the demand that the Bugatti Veyron filled, and the place that the Bugatti Chiron will continue to own.
I am not a Bugatti hater, but it also wouldn’t be the first (or even tenth) 7-figure car that I’d want to buy. I do have an immense respect and appreciation for the Bugatti Chiron as an engineering marvel, though. Bugatti says they’re shooting for 275mph when they do their record attempt in the near future. That’s just insane speed, but because the customer cars all come with speed limiters at “only” 261mph, it’s not something customers will be able to do on a regular basis. So, in practice, 275mph will be a cool talking point, but that’s about it.
I think the Bugatti Chiron is exactly what it should be, though. It’s the same “Guiness Book of World Records on 4 wheels” that the Veyron was, only more so. I love the new design details, but I also love that the Chiron is clearly the Veyron successor. The modern Bugatti formula may not be “my thing,” but it is a good thing, and I’m thrilled it exists.
This is road car engineering to the max.