You just need one figure to be shocked and awed by a car, for a Bugatti Chiron the figure is 1,500 horsepower and it’s just the tip of the iceberg for the hypercar. Named after one of Bugatti racing drivers, Louis Chiron, the car also has the world’s largest torque for a sports car with 1,600 Nm from a mere 2,000 rpm thanks to its 8,000 cc W16 engine with four turbochargers. With such power, the car can pull out some staggering acceleration times. It could accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 2.4 seconds and able to reach a limited top speed of 380 km/h. Another punch to the gut will be the price tag for the car, with a base price of 2.6 million Euro or equal to Rp 41 billion and that’s excluding all the tax. The car is only available in left-hand drive, thus unfortunately not legal to be driven on Indonesian street. It can be used on the track or stored to be admired.
After debuting in Malaysia and Singapore last year, finally, Bugatti launched the car in the largest economy in Southeast Asia last August. After it was showcased to VIPs at a private event in Jakarta, Forbes Life Indonesia was one of the only two media given the privilege to briefly sample the Bugatti Chiron Sport, a sportier variant of the car with lighter components and sharper handling characteristics.
To sample the car, Bugatti organized a driving event at the GT Radial Proving Ground in Karawang, West Java. It was a closed track with various road conditions and importantly a long straight to safely unleash the power from the car. During the drive, I was accompanied by Pierre-Henri Raphanel, a Bugatti test driver who broke a world speed record for a road car by driving the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to 431 km/h in 2010.
The test unit comes with the brand signature duo-tone color scheme, with the rear comes with a visibly grey colored carbon and the front painted with Italian Red paintwork. The car is very low slung and wide, its 1.7 meters tall and 2 meters wide. At the side, there’s the Bugatti side-line, a C-shaped trim strip made from aluminum alloy. The front features the brand’s horseshoe-shaped grill with an emblem that’s made from silver and colored by enameling, a process where the emblem is painted, heated, and polished by hand like you will find in a Swiss luxury watch.
The black grill also has a number 16 in red to symbolize that the car has 16 cylinders. To differentiate the Chiron Sport and the standard version, one can look that it has a different wheel design and a new four-pipe exhaust deflector. The car comes with 20-inch wheels in the front and 21 inches in the rear, with the, later comes with a tire with a 355 mm width.
Pierre knows the car very well; he even launched the car full throttle with only one finger on the steering wheel. After a lap around the proving ground, Pierre handed the car over to me to drive. Getting in the car was not the easiest because it is very low to the ground, typical of a car of this kind. However, when I sat at the black colored leather seat, it felt like I was sitting in the seat of a typical luxury sedan. It was comfortable and the seat was electronically adjustable to my liking, the steering wheel also can be adjusted, strangely for the steering, it’s not electric and you have to move it manually.
Front and side visibility was very good, except for the rear visibility as there were only two small windows on the rear that also can be obstructed with the big spoiler. The cabin is driver-focused, there is no center screen, and all are well within reach by the driver. The steering wheel houses many buttons and knobs to control the functions of the car, including the start-stop and driving modes. The center part only houses the gear lever and three knobs that also has a digital screen in the center, that can display several data such as horsepower utilized, and speed achieved after a drive.
Overall the interior felt spacious and not intimidating, even though it’s a car with tremendous power, even it still has some cupholders and a glovebox. At some point, it felt like a Grand Tourer as it was a luxurious cockpit, despite more towards a sportier design. The test unit has an interior adorned with a combination of black colored Alcantara, leather, aluminum and carbon fiber with some red accents just like the exterior of the car.
With a lot of horsepowers to spare, the car was able to not compromise on its interior quality. For example, all the aluminum parts are milled from a solid block and some are even 1 cm thick. These deliver a solid and premium feel while also serves as an acoustic treatment for the car. Adding it up there are double glass windows and acoustic foams around the car, including in the wheel arches to dampen all the sounds from the road.
Put the key in the slot, punch the ignition button on the steering wheel and you will awaken the mighty beast with its glorious growl on start-up. Slide the gear lever to the right and the car will drive in full auto mode, I lift my foot off the brake and the car started to move forward smoothly. I didn’t need to apply the throttle, thanks to the car's enormous torque. I can feel, however, all the power that urged to be unleashed. When driven, thanks to all the acoustic treatments the cabin was quiet. I was able to converse with Pierre comfortably and it is so effortless to drive, the steering wheel is light even though it still has a quick response to feedback.
Pierre asked me to drive the car towards a series of roads with rough surfaces, some with uneven surfaces. I braced for my spine to survive the test, as these kinds of cars usually have unforgiving ride quality on bad roads. However, as it passed bumps after bumps my back was immediately relieved. I can still feel the bumps, however, when the suspension reaches its tipping point, it dampens all the shocks beautifully and eliminated all the hurt to your back. The car and the driver survived, it passed the roads elegantly as it combines a level drive and a comfortable ride while still enabling you to feel the road. It’s the best ride quality yet for a car with no compromise for performance.
Next, I was asked to drive the cars through a series of corners and the cars turn beautifully, there is no understeer, it stayed level and I don’t have to fight with anything from the car. Compared to the standard version, the Chiron Sport has a Dynamic handling package with stiffer suspension and new Dynamic Torque Vectoring function to sharpen the handling. Now Pierre let me drive the car to full power, a moment I've waited since the start of the drive. Indeed, after some runs the engine sound is not a stratospheric scream like a naturally aspirated Italian supercar, however, the substantial and immense sounds produced by the engine is remarkable. It will grab you to the core and will also induce your adrenaline.
To showcase this, Pierre asked me to fully open the window and from a standstill in front of a long straight, I let off the brake and gradually punched the throttle. With such a big engine, the sound of massive air being sucked and the whistle of the turbo coming from behind your ears is like hearing an orchestra from Vivaldi, it's heavy and fast. After reaching high speed, the windows closed by itself and the cabin became significantly calmer, a needed atmosphere as suddenly your eyes were struggling to focus on the road as it was so fast like you just warped to the end of the road.
The acceleration was like no other and the closest sensation to a jet plane during take-off, the speed produced was massive. I glanced at the knob’s display in the center after the run, I fully utilized the 1,500 horsepower and reached 250 km/h in what feels like less than eight seconds. I didn’t have the time to utilize the paddle shifter during the run, but it was smooth all the way to end. The car has 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that seamlessly shifts gears very fast in a civilized manner, in auto mode, there is no jolt and headbanging upshift drama. Power delivery was linear and felt like it will increase speed for eternity, the car was also able to put the power to the ground elegantly as there was no hint of wheelspin.
Near the end of the straight, I stabbed the brake pedal and it was the most powerful brake I've ever experienced from a car, the rear spoiler fully retracted and my body lunged forward so hard as the car remarkably slowed down so that I can make it in one piece at the end of the straight. Experiencing an acceleration of a car with 1,500 horsepower was breath-taking and it’s another league on its own.
The fascinating part is the image of a brutal car that lingers on my mind for the Chiron disappears. To find out that a car that has massive power, can be so comfortable, so civilized like it’s an ultra-luxury grand tourer, was surprising. It’s a baby car that can be easily driven but has a ferocious beast that can be unleashed at its driver's will. In the Chiron, you will find a marriage of maximum performance and comfort, added with a feel of security and confidence in driving such a car. A combination that you will not find in any other car, hence justifying its eyes watering price tag. You only need as simple as a driving license and enough money in the bank, it’s the best car in terms of performance that money can buy. Currently as of the article was written there are only 100 allocations left for the Chiron, with waiting time for up to 2 years for an order.