Bugatti quietly built a highly aerodynamic evolution of the Chiron to break the 300-mph barrier and become the fastest car in the world. British pilot Andy Wallace slipped behind the wheel, and made achieving both goals look easy.
Documented by a sealed GPS box, the record was set on a German test track named Ehra-Lessien. There are thousands of race tracks in the world, but Volkswagen’s official test circuit is the ideal place for high-speed runs because it offers intrepid drivers a 5.4-mile stretch of straight pavement on which to exercise their car’s muscles. It’s on this part of the track that Wallace reached 304.773 mph in the Chiron-based prototype.
Official photos confirm the record-breaking car is based on the Chiron, but it wears a modified body with a longer rear end that allows it to keep its four wheels on the ground even as it crests the 300-mph mark. The extension is made with carbon fiber to keep weight in check, and to match the rest of the body, which is also manufactured using the lightweight composite material.
The aerodynamic modifications played a large role in helping the Chiron become the fastest car in the world, but other factors played a big role as well. The car was fitted with reinforced Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that were sent through an X-ray machine before being installed to make sure they were 100% perfect. We don’t know whether Bugatti made any changes to the suspension or to the engine. The standard Chiron uses an 8.0-liter, 16-cylinder engine quad turbocharged to 1,500 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque. It’s obscenely quick; Digital Trends called its acceleration “uncanny” after driving it on the roads around its home town.
The 304-mph run brings the top speed crown back into Bugatti’s court. The Veyron Super Sport earned the bragging rights when it reached 267 mph on the same track in 2010, but it was bumped down from the podium’s top spot when the Koenigsegg Agera RS hit 285 mph in 2017. The Swedish boutique automaker can’t use Volkswagen’s test track, so the record attempt famously took place on a closed stretch of a Nevada highway.
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