In the grand scheme of things, you only really need around 100 horsepower to get around town and make the occasional road trip — 150 if overtaking semi trucks on the freeway becomes a bit of a concern. The torque versus horsepower war wages on over dollar beers down at the local watering hole because unless you have drag slicks and optimal driving conditions, the majority of high power performance cars are completely useless on the street.
Naturally, there are numerous traction control settings out there that do their due diligence extremely well, and stability assistance technologies like torque vectoring do a damn good job of keeping corners under control, but there’s still plenty of room for human error. Even with all-wheel drive at the ready and sticky compound tires on board, once you crest that 500-horsepower mark there’s only so much you can do to keep things under control.
Take Bugatti’s completely redesigned W16 motor for instance. Aiming to retain its title as the world’s most powerful production supercar, the Volkswagen-owned automaker decided to up its powerband by 25% over the outgoing predecessor. This meant that virtually every single component within the confines of the massive 16-cylinder engine had to be overhauled.
Bugatti’s team of engineers turned the sensational quad-turbo W16 engine into a 1,500-wheel horsepower evil-doer, with 1,180 pound-feet of torque. The automaker even went as far as developing its own turbocharger in house to make these numbers a reality, and all four turbochargers now feature peak torque gains that start at 2,000 RPM and go all the way up to 6,000 RPM.
After that it’s all up to you as to how far your foot and courage will take you because when acceleration “only comes to an end in the twilight zone,” chances are that somewhere around the 249 mile per hour mark you’re going to need a fresh set of bombachas. But at $2.5 million a pop, most of us will never feel the joy of soiling the seat of a supercar like this, so instead we are left with videos of the Chiron in action, like the recent one from Goodwood’s Festival of Speed in England where it made its maiden track voyage.
While Goodwood may not be able to offer onlookers the ability to watch the Chiron reach top speeds, it does give us a great opportunity to see the car in action without tons of media hype and editing as well a good feel for the car’s exhaust note. Naturally, there are a multitude of other options out there nowadays if extreme speed and multi-million dollar price tags are your cup of tea, but even then, it’s pretty damn tough to compete with the Chiron in the engine department.
While a bump in boost pressure from bigger turbochargers helps top end, turbo lag is overcome with a sequential setup that features a duo of smaller turbos that spool hard all the way up to 3,800 RPM, at which point the two larger units take over. Lightweight materials like titanium and carbon fiber make their way onto the engine as well, as things like the intake tube, charge air system, and timing chain housing are all made out of a carbon weave, and exhaust components are all titanium. The entire exhaust system comes fully insulated and rocks larger catalytic converters for better flow, and just one of them alone is around six times the size of an average car’s cat. Six tailpipes finish things off out back, with four reaching the rear and two spouting down unseen.
As for fuel, the Chiron sprays premium out of an armada of 32 injectors, with charge air cycling more than 60,000 liters of air per minute through the engine. According to some automotive experts, the Chiron will likely empty a full tank of gas in less than 12 minutes when under full throttle.
Bugatti says that the Chiron’s engine has the ability to generate over 3,000 horsepower worth of heat energy, so two water cooling setups were installed, plus a high-temperature system for the engine and a low-temp loop to keep charge air cold. The high-temperature setup alone rocks three radiators, while the charge air system sports a single one that prevents heat-soak during stop-and-go situations.
After factoring in the three oil coolers, the single transmission unit, and the rear differential juice box, as well as the two water/air heat exchangers and the hydraulic oil chiller, this means that the Chiron has a total of 10 radiators. The guts of this machine car look like a damn snake farm too, with a dizzying array of intakes, ducting tubes, and aero piping helping reduce drag, pipe in cool air, and boost downforce.
Featuring a flat undertray equipped with special air guide strakes, active front diffusers, undercarriage powertrain cooling air ducts, and gaping side vents, the Chiron strikes an imposing stance, as its rear spoiler extends skyward to maintain adequate downforce at higher speeds. Looking this entire package over, an interesting question arises: Does the Chiron actually have what it takes to best the world record set by the much lighter Hennessey Venom a few months back? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.