New speed record for world’s fastest car
BUGATTI has set a new speed record for supercars, reaching 490.484km/h with a modified Chiron coupe.
A pre-production version of an upcoming "long tail" Bugatti Chiron with sleek new bodywork became the first sports car to exceed 300mph (482.8km/h) at Volkswagen's Ehra-Lessien proving ground.
Andy Wallace, Bugatti test driver and 1988 Le Mans winner, reached what he describes as an "incredible speed" on Monday.
"It's inconceivable that a car would be capable of this," Wallace says.
"But the Chiron was well prepared and I felt very safe - even in these high speed ranges.
"The Chiron ran perfectly and the track and weather conditions were ideal. The whole team did a fantastic job."
The new benchmark shatters the 431km/h top speed of the previous-generation Bugatti Veyron.
Bugatti says the record-setting Chiron's modifications included low-drag bodywork, a roll cage and race harness, and Michelin tyres laboratory-tested at speeds up to 511km/h.
It appears to use the same 12-cylinder engine as the "normal" Chiron which sends 1119kW and 1600Nm to all four wheels.
We don't know how much the record-setting Bugatti will cost. But a limited-edition Bugatti Centodieci unveiled in August is priced from €8m ($13m) plus taxes which would push it to $20 million in Australia, suggesting the new car will command a hefty fee.
In any case, Bugatti only builds cars in left-hand-drive, so the Chiron cannot be registered for regular road use in Australia.
The speed record is unlikely to be beaten soon, as Volkswagen - Bugatti's parent company - owns the three-lane-wide, 21 kilometre-long test track where test track where many speed records have been set. Competitors to the Chiron, including Sweden's Koenigsegg and America's Hennessey, build cars capable of challenging the Bugatti but struggle to secure space to prove their potential.
It's easy to question the relevance of a car which can only perform its party trick at one test track in Germany.
But Bugatti chief executive Stephan Winkelmann says there is more to the Chiron than its speed.
"Our hyper sports cars are capable of more," he says.
"They offer absolute exclusivity, luxury, unmatched beauty and a high level of automotive craftsmanship.
"The Bugatti is the only hyper sports car that combines all of these characteristics in one vehicle."