In the pursuit of ever greater speeds, less often is more. A faster car will almost certainly be a result of some form of weight reduction. But apparently, that is only valid when the playing field is limited to the simple correlation of power and lightness. The dynamics of speed enter a new dimension when aerodynamics is involved—the challenge of which Bugatti wants to solve in its Chiron Super Sport.
The Chiron Super Sport’s design brief is to be a car that can cruise at over 400km/h with no sweat while making its occupants feel like they’re doing just half that. Luxury features like sound insulation and leather seats will obviously generate a significant weight penalty, so engineers had to find a way to eke out as much speed as possible without sacrificing ride comfort. The solution? A long tail.
Now, lengthening the bodywork might be counterintuitive especially when the goal is to go as fast as possible. But physics has a very interesting and annoying behavior when air resistance is involved. At high speeds, air turns into small tornados as it passes over the top of a car and terminates at the rear. This creates a pressure difference at the back and generates a pulling force that slows the car down. The faster a vehicle goes, the stronger this pulling force becomes.
Bugatti’s decision to extend the Chiron Super Sport’s tail by 25cm effectively prolongs the duration that smooth air flows around the car, delaying the onset of the turbulent wake at the rear. The back is also slightly tapered and sports a larger rear diffuser, which significantly reduces the cross section in that area and further diminishes the size and the effect of the spiraling air currents. The automaker claims that such a design already produces so much downforce that a large, drag-inducing wing is no longer required.
As with any Bugatti, the sleek bodywork is only half the equation. The venerable 8.0-liter W16 engine with four turbos takes up residence behind the cabin, and produces 1,577hp and 1,600Nm. Power is accessible over a wider rev range, and 200km/h is dispatched in 5.8 seconds. The automaker isn’t revealing the Super Sport’s top speed, but it mentioned the need for the vehicle to be stable at 440km/h. What it can say with confidence, though, is that each one will set you back €3.2 million (P186.1 million).