Bugatti works unshackled speed into every atom of Chiron Super Sport
With a pedigree that dates back over 80 years, "Super Sport" has come to mean "world-record speed" at Bugatti, and the Chiron Super Sport remains true to its heritage. The newest member of the Chiron family has been painstakingly optimized from contact patch to rooftop for world-beating grades of acceleration and speed. A long tail, uprated W-16 engine, 500-km/h tires and reworked aero make the new Super Sport as furiously fast as its predecessors. Oh, and Bugatti promises it's comfortable, too.
Bugatti starts its work by stretching the Chiron rear-end by roughly 10 in (25 cm) into a long tail meant to better hold laminar flow against the bodywork. Bugatti slaps a broad, flat rear diffuser in the lower center of that stretched backside, reducing wind resistance and slipstream.
"If we can generate downforce with the diffuser, there is no need for us to generate it with the drag inducing wings," explains Bugatti's deputy design director Frank Heyl. "This means we can retract the wing as far as possible in Top Speed mode for a drive with minimal drag."
Making room for the big diffuser, the centralized exhaust tips move out to the sides in a vertical 2+2 arrangement with oval housings. This very clearly delineates the "Super Sport" rear view from that of other Chirons.
Up front, Bugatti adds new aerodynamic definition below the sharp headlamps, channeling air through to the wheel arches with air curtains. Above those arches, it pokes nine holes into each front fender to release air pressure from the wheel wells surrounding the exclusive Y-spoke aluminum wheels. The holes are also a nod to the EB 110 Super Sport and are assisted by outlets behind the wheel arches.
Bugatti promises that the new aerodynamics lend way to the perfect balance of downforce and minimized drag at speeds over 261 mph (420 km/h). Sadly, although that balance seems capable of pushing the Super Sport to a new world speed record, Bugatti electronically limits the car's speed to 273 mph (440 km/h), consistent with its plan to end its pursuit of world speed records after breaking the 300-mph barrier.
"This was the last time for us. We will no longer take part in this [speed record] race," Bugatti chief Stephan Winkelmann said in October 2019, a few weeks after Bugatti topped 304 mph (489 km/h). "We have shown numerous times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In future we will focus on other exciting projects."
The new Chiron Super Sport is modeled after the pre-production car that hit that speed, but it doesn't appear it will be pursuing a production car record. That's a shame because the 273-mph limited top speed falls less than 10 mph (16 km/h) short of SSC's 282.9-mph (455.3-km/h) record from earlier this year. If SSC's 316-mph mark had stood the test of time and internet scrutinization, we wouldn't think twice about it, but as is, not pushing for a 300+ mph two-way run to score an official production car world record seems like a waste of the Chiron Super Sport's high-speed talents, especially since it rides on reinforced Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2's, the first tires up to the task of 500-km/h (311-mph) speeds.
Perhaps Bugatti will get the speed itch again in the future, and it'll have just the right tool to reach for. And the speed limiter shouldn't be enough to call the Super Sport's "production car" status into question.
Whether or not it ever becomes the official fastest car in the world, the Chiron Super Sport definitely bests the plenty-fast 261-mph Chiron, adding the additional 12 mph (19 km/h) with help from its reworked 1,577-hp quad-turbo 8.0-liter W-16. Bugatti engineers modified the turbochargers, oil pump, cylinder head, clutch and transmission to add the extra 98 hp over the standard Chiron engine, pushing redline up 300 rpms to 7,100 rpm for "even greater longitudinal acceleration and an even more emotive driving experience."
The powertrain upgrades may not get the Chiron Super Sport up to its full top-speed potential, but they do offer immediate acceleration improvements. The Super Sport boasts 5.8-second 0-124 mph (200 km/h) and 12.1-second 0-186 (300 km/h) estimates, quicker than the respective 6.1- and 13.1-second times of the standard Chiron.
Giving drivers the ability to better handle all the Super Sport's power and quickness, Bugatti also overhauls the chassis and running gear. Harder springs boost high-speed stability; tighter steering empowers better control and feel; and retuned electronic chassis control better actively tunes the ride. Drivers can dial things in via four modes: EB, Handling, Autobahn and Top Speed.
"We tweaked all possible parameters when developing the chassis in order to achieve the best possible setup for immense acceleration as well as the unique Bugatti luxury and comfort experience,” explains Jachin Schwalbe, Bugatti's head of chassis development. “In comparison to the Chiron Pur Sport, which, as a free-revving vehicle with transverse dynamics, offers a great deal of downforce up to 350 km/h (218 mph), the Chiron Super Sport remains very neutral and quiet even above this in the uppermost speed ranges."
Bugatti will soon begin production on the €3.2 million (approx. US$3.9 million) Chiron Super Sport, rolling the first cars out to customers in early 2022.