Bugatti fans will likely know that the marque has started production of the first of 66, $4 million Niniette yachts based on the silhouette of its latest supercar, the Chiron. It will be a while before we see the first on-water impressions of the Niniette, but we can, at least, talk about the Chiron, which might just be the last truly great, purely petrol-powered hypercar to be built before hybrid and all-electric powertrains become the norm.
Having driven its predecessor, the Veyron, I found it difficult to imagine what Bugatti’s engineers might be able to do to improve upon it. But they managed it – and the Chiron is simply phenomenal, not just in what it is capable of but in the way it goes about it.
Bugatti’s plant in Molsheim, France, is probably better described as an atelier rather than a factory and it is here that a team of engineers and craftsmen meticulously put each Chiron together using the finest materials available to the automotive industry – even the celebrated Bugatti “Macaron” badge is cast from solid silver. The entire monocoque is made from carbon fibre, the serpentine exhaust system is extruded from titanium and the stonking 16 cylinder, eight litre engine is nothing short of a work of engineering art, producing 1,500hp and an incredible 1,600 newton metres of torque from just 2,000rpm.
I was fortunate to undertake my Chiron baptism under the guidance of Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace, four times 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, three times 24 Hours of Daytona winner, double 12 Hours of Sebring winner and much, much more. Had anyone else suggested that I slowed a 1,500hp car to walking pace, engaged first gear and mashed the throttle into the floor I probably wouldn’t have done it.
But it is only by committing this one seemingly irresponsible act that it’s possible to fully appreciate the Chiron’s staggering capability – because, without a hint of a chirp from the tyres, the slightest kickback from the steering wheel or a moment’s hesitation, it takes off like a rocket.
I can compare it only with my one and only ride in a top fuel dragster. The difference is the dragster was designed to run for a bone-jarring quarter of a mile; the Chiron is designed to take you around the world in total comfort as quickly or as slowly as you wish.
That makes it a work of automotive genius that will probably never be repeated – which is why 300 of the 500 scheduled to be made are already sold. And why you should put your name down for (at least) one of those that remain. It could be the best €2.5 million you’ll ever spend.