Bugatti ready to crack 500km/h

BUt tyre technology remains Bugatti’s limiting factor in achieving Chiron’s true top speed

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Cracking 500km/h sounds like an ambitious plan, but according to Bugatti boss Stephen Winkelmann, it’s entirely possible that the Chiron could reach the stratospheric mark.

However, in an interview with Automobile magazine, Winkelmann admits that the limiting factor to cracking 500km/h isn’t due to a power deficiency with the all-conquering Chiron, but more a lack of tyre technology to cope with the forces it generates.

Winkelmann, who previously headed Lamborghini, states that gaining the extra 80km/h to achieve this goal is achievable “if someone is willing to supply suitable tyres”. Currently the 7993cc W16 Chiron is endowed with 1103kW/1600Nm and is limited to a top speed of 420km/h using Bugatti-specific Michelin rubber.

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At its launch, Bugatti stated that the Chiron could exceed the designated top speed, which is an indicated 500km/h on the speedo, but that it was electronically limited because of the tyres. Bugatti test driver, Andy Wallace, also said at the Chiron’s launch that a street tyre simply can’t handle the forces generated at such speeds, but that Michelin wasn’t far off.

The big Bug uses quad turbos to help attain its eye-watering performance figures, but electrification could be part of the future according to Winkelmann – just not right now. More power is “always an option, as is less weight”. In the meantime, achieving the extra power and torque required to reach the targeted top speed will be done sans hybrid assistance.

Additional body styles could be in the pipeline, while the Chiron is expected to live on for at least another five years with updates. According to Winkelmann, the engine could even be used in the car’s replacement. A drop-top version would require a “reengineered and much stiffer monocoque”.

Winkelmann reveals in the interview that the design of the luxe three-door SUV, or CUV in Bugatti-speak, has been completed. So advanced is the program, which could be an all-electric vehicle, that individuals outside the company have viewed it. “Some potential customers have seen it and they liked it”, Winkelmann said. However, it’s believed that there’s been no hard-line decision on its feasibility and no final budget has been allocated.


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