As if beating the Koenigsegg Agera RS by 20mph wasn’t enough, Bugatti has decided to tell the world its modified Chiron could have gone even quicker.
The Swedish hypercar hasn’t been named specifically, but it’s clearly alluded to in a press release that’s best thought of as a way of saying ‘so ner’ with some hardcore maths.
VW Group’s 13-mile Ehra-Lessien test track is just 50 metres above sea level, making it less ideal for high-speed runs than “higher-altitude locations used for high-speed runs in the past such as in Nevada,” Bugatti says.
It’s all about air pressure. This drops by one hectopascal (hPa) every eight metres, so at an altitude of 1000 metres, the air pressure is about 88 per cent of what is experienced at sea level. Lower air pressure and air density result in lower drag, hence why airliners fly at such high altitudes.
The faster you go, the bigger a problem ‘thicker’ air becomes. Bugatti has crunched the numbers and worked out that had the Chiron been run at a higher altitude in thinner air, it would have gone 15.5mph faster. This would have given a final total of 320mph or 515kmh.
So why not ship the longtail Chiron to Nevada instead of using Ehra-Lessien? It’s all about safety. The VW test site is lined with Armco, has emergency service personnel stationed either end and is cleaned with a special ‘mat’ before every run.
“The route in Nevada is very long and only goes in one direction: security forces would have taken too long to get to the scene in an emergency,” said Bugatti development chief Stefan Ellrott, adding, “The track has a slight gradient of about three per cent. It wouldn’t have felt right to set a record there.”
As a final two-finger salute to its 300mph-targeting competitors, Bugatti has decided it’s done with top speed-related feats. “We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In future we shall be focusing on other exciting projects,” announced Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann.