Bugatti: 304-MPH Chiron Would've Been Faster on Nevada Highway Koenigsegg Used

If Bugatti had used the Nevada highway where a Koenigsegg Agera RS hit 284 mph, it estimates the Chiron would've done around 320 mph.

image
Bugatti

Earlier this week, Bugatti announced that it did something truly remarkable—break the 300-mph barrier in a road car. With test driver Andy Wallace at the wheel, a long-tail Chiron prototype—likely previewing a future Chiron Super Sport—hit 304.77 mph in one direction at Volkswagen's Ehra Lessein test track. This beat the 284.55 mph set in one direction by a Koenigsegg Agera RS on a closed section of Nevada highway two years ago. And Bugatti has some interesting things to say about Koenigsegg's location of choice.

In a press release sent out today, Bugatti says that if it had used the same location as Koenigsegg, the Chiron would've hit around 320 mph, but the company deemed that the public road wasn't safe enough.

"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 head Stefan Hellrot. "In addition, the track has a slight gradient of about three percent. It wouldn't have felt right to set a record there."

By contrast, Ehra Lessein has a 13-mile loop for high-speed testing, with safety crews stationed at both sides. It's where Bugatti has set all its speed records with the Veyron, and now, the Chiron.

image
Bugatti

The reason the Chiron was slower at Ehra Lessein than Bugatti estimates it would've been in Nevada has to do with air pressure. Ehra Lessein, situated in Lower Saxony, Germany, is only about 164 feet above sea level, whereas the section of Nevada State Road 160 used by Koenigsegg is around 3400 feet.

Bugatti explains that as air pressure and density decrease as elevation rises, the force of drag acting on the car at speed also decreases. The key term here, though, is "at speed," because at normal road pace, the difference is pretty small. When you're approaching the 300-mph mark, however, it's a different story. If you want to see all the math explaining this phenomenon, check out Bugatti's press release, but if you don't, just know that the lower elevation at Ehra Lessein isn't an asset. That said, Bugatti concedes that greater air density at low elevation helps the Chiron's quad-turbo W16 breathe better.

Interesting stuff, but considering the Chiron so handily beat the Agera RS, we can't help but wonder why Bugatti felt the need to qualifiy its record further. Perhaps this is the brand's way of explaining just how hard the business of setting speed records is. And it's a business Bugatti is getting out of. "We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In future we shall be focusing on other exciting projects," Bugatti boss Stefan Winkelmann said in a statement.