When word started going around about a successor to the Bugatti Veyron, we knew it was going to be a fantastic car. And so far, the Chiron has more than exceeded those expectations. It’s substantially more powerful thanks to an additional 300hp, but yet is said to be better handling, more comfortable, and overall much easier to drive. However, there is one particular aspect of the Chiron that’s left moto enthusiasts wanting more, top speed. Granted, Bugatti worked hard to make sure the Chiron was more than just a straight line car, but still. Considering the Veyron holds the official World Record for production car top speed there’s no reason why the Chiron shouldn’t be expected to surpass the 268mph mark, especially considering it has a speedometer that reads 310mph (500kp/h) even though it’s electronically limited to “just” 261mph.
You might think Bugatti is the one slowing up the process of maxing out the Chiron, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. One thing and one thing only prevents them from removing the limiter, tire technology. There currently isn’t a production ready tire on the market that can handle the speeds that the Chiron is capable of, which must be somewhat of a bittersweet feeling for Bugatti engineers. It’s got to feel pretty good to know that you’ve designed and built a car that requires technology that isn’t available yet in order for the car to achieve its full potential. On the other hand, it must also be quite frustrating to know that something out of your control is preventing the car from etching itself into the history books.
Apparently, Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace had an in-depth discussion with reporters from Popular Mechanics about how street tires just can’t handle the stress generated by the centrifugal force of a wheel turning at 300+mph. He used an interesting example to get his point across too. He talked about the valve cap that’s on basically every tire on the road, or at least they should be. That little plastic cap on average weighs approximately 2.5 grams. However, when you get the Chiron up to its limited top speed of 261mph, that little 2.5-gram piece now equates to an almost unbelievable 16 pounds! And interestingly, the faster you go beyond that point, the weight increases exponentially.
Wallace was also quick to point out there is no question the Chiron has yet to come close to reaching its full potential. Apparently, it’ll reach its limited top speed of 261mph “with ease” and it’s safe to assume that he knows what he’s talking about. I say that because he has a long list of monumental achievements to his credit. He was also the test driver for the McLaren F1 when it reached its top speed of 240mph. Prior to that, he was also the driver of the Jaguar XJ220 when it set its record top speed. So there’s no question that Wallace would be willing to pilot the Chiron to its max speed, whatever that is, and it’s only fitting that he be the one to do it too. Especially if it magically hit the 300mph mark.
Sadly though, there has been no word of anyone even trying to develop a tire that’s 300mph capable. Engineers at Michelin are apparently in the process of coming up with something that will get to the 280mph range. Although Bugatti still claims they will be making an attempt on the top speed world record in 2018, so there’s still a little bit of time. And if not, 280mph is still pretty damn impressive.