A pre-production prototype for a new high-performance Bugatti Chiron model became the first car to break the 300 mph barrier last month, with test driver Andy Wallace hitting a top speed of 490.47 km/h (304.77 mph) at the automaker's Ehra-Lessien test track last month.
The record-breaking, two-way average speed was verified by the official German inspection association and effectively strips the Swedish Koenigsegg Agera RS of the "World's Fastest Car" title.
According to Top Gear, this unnamed Chiron prototype had a stripped interior, no passenger seat, and a roll cage. The 8.0-litre, quad-turbocharged W16 engine was boosted to 1,578 horsepower (up from 1,479 in the standard Chiron), however it has the same transmission and all-wheel drive system as a standard Chiron.
Slippery new bodywork was key to getting the Chiron to punch through the 300 mph (482 km/h) barrier. This unnamed prototype is 25 cm longer than the regular Chiron and has a fixed rear wing/airbrake for stability. A pair of stacked rear tailpipes, similar to those seen on the Bugatti Centodieci concept, are specially designed to direct hot exhaust gasses away from the vehicle, so as to not upset the airflow coming off the rear wing.
Bugatti also worked closely with tire supplier Michelin for this record, along with the chassis/carbon fibre experts at Dallara. Tires were previously cited as the reasoning for Bugatti being unable to go faster than it had with the 429 km/h Bugatti Veyron SS, but with this record, it appears Michelin has made some serious breakthroughs in tire technology in recent months.
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“Bugatti has once again shown what it’s capable of," Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann said in a prepared statement. "With this new record of the Chiron we enter again uncharted territory. Never before has a series manufacturer reached this high speed. Our goal was to be the first manufacturer ever to reach the magic 300 mph mark. We have now achieved this – making ourselves, the entire team and myself, incredibly proud.”
If you're hoping for Bugatti to break into the 350 mph barrier one day, don't hold your breath. Winkelmann says this will be the last top speed record attempt for it, with the manufacturer choosing to focus its engineering expertise in other areas going forward.
“We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world," Winkelmann added.
Check out the record-breaking speed run in the video embedded below.