2021 Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport review: Attempting to use 1,500hp on the road

Our review of the most phenomenal car of our times

6w ago
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A lot has been written about the Bugatti Chiron's numbers, and it's hardly surprising. There's more going on under the Bugatti's gorgeous carbon-fibre skin that there is in the backside of one of those creepy Boston Dynamics robot dogs.

We're all now aware that the Chiron has 1,500hp (1,600 if you go for the Super Sport), will accelerate very quickly indeed and costs a ridiculous amount of money – £3.4m for the Pur Sport that we're reviewing here. But after four hours with the Chiron, we weren't just gobsmacked in the oldest sense of the word – we had an almost out-of-body emotional reaction to the rather silly combination of elements the Bugatti brings together. So this won't be your typical review, because we're stating at the outset that this is a car so completely unlike anything else that it's hard to fathom.

Anyway. With that caveat, watch the video below to see us struggle to put words to feelings, or read on for more waffle.

What is it? I've never heard of it…

Oh come on. The Chiron is Bugatti's latest hypercar, although as we toured the Molsheim brand's tiny, mostly hand-operated factory, we were told that the current two models – the Pur Sport and Super Sport – are in fact among the final Chirons to be produced. Yup, the Chiron's already at the end of its life. Boo.

Pick a Pur Sport and you get a sodding great 8.0-litre W16 engine with four turbos producing 1,500hp and 1,600Nm of torque. For reference, that's more than twice the torque you get from a BMW M5 CS. Joyous. The Pur Sport has lots of extra carbon fibre bits and pieces, as well as optional magnesium wheels which bring the weight to just under 2,000kg – 750kg of which is engine and transmission…

Huge front air intakes and new vents above the front wheels set the Pur Sport apart from other Chirons

Huge front air intakes and new vents above the front wheels set the Pur Sport apart from other Chirons

Combine that powertrain with that lightweight carbon tub and you're looking at a 0-62mph time of 2.3 seconds and a top speed of 218mph.

Seems a bit slow, that top speed, doesn't it? Well, the Pur Sport is the most handling-focused Chiron ever, and so it runs more negative camber than the regular car, and as such can't go above 218mph for fear of melting hot spots into its massive and super-sticky Michelin Cup 2 R tyres, which are also new for the Pur Sport.

Cup 2 R tyres provide huge grip once they're up to temperature – but the Chiron will spin up all four of them when it's 5C. Ask us how we know

Cup 2 R tyres provide huge grip once they're up to temperature – but the Chiron will spin up all four of them when it's 5C. Ask us how we know

That 0-62mph time is, mercifully, 0.1 seconds faster than your entry-level Chiron, because the Pur Sport has 15% shorter ratios for each of its seven gears. This makes it 41% faster from 37mph to 75mph in 6th gear. Told you there'd be numbers. Want some more? Well, it'll get from 0-124mph in 5.9 seconds instead of 6.1.

That wing is 1.9 metres wide. That's wider than some cars…

That wing is 1.9 metres wide. That's wider than some cars…

You can identify the Pur Sport by way of its gaping front bumper, the carbon-fibre hoop surrounding the Bugatti badge, a huge 1.9m-wide fixed rear wing, a rear diffuser so large you could reverse over a cow and not notice, and you get larger metal shift paddles in the cabin. Oh, and there are carbon-fibre windscreen wiper arms, which should go down in history as the most beautiful forms seen on a car.

Great. You just told us it's fast again. How does it drive?

Very easily. There's no need to re-learn how to drive – just show Bugatti your driver's licence, hand over £3.4m (in the form of a €200k deposit to book your build slot, a further €1m deposit to lock-in your spec, then the outstanding couple of mill on collection… and more deposits if you're after some heavily personalised aspects) and off you go. Visibility out the back is a bit meagre thanks to that swooping C shape down the middle of the cabin, but out the side, mirrors and front it's all good.

Initially the Chiron feels pretty wide on public roads, but you soon get used to it and start treating it as you would any other car. At least until you give it, ooo, quarter throttle out of an urban speed limit. The noise is perhaps the most entertaining part of the experience – the W16 sucks and gasps like a coach-load of Japanese tourists on a tour of a Marlboro factory. For the first half a second of a full-throttle run you're treated to this huge theatrical inhalation as the power factory assembles all the huge horses to send you galloping at the sunset. And then you're off.

Furiously fast but surprisingly tactile – the Chiron's unbelievably fun to drive

Furiously fast but surprisingly tactile – the Chiron's unbelievably fun to drive

There's no getting away from the fact that using all 1,500hp is really unpleasant if you do it repeatedly – up to 100mph it accelerates like the most insane tuned Nissan GT-R – and then after 100mph something unusual happens and the rate of acceleration actually increases. You'd have been bracing yourself, tensing your stomach and enduring the accelerative forces, but above 100mph you just give up and let your head sink into the headrest as if your rollercoaster has just fallen off its rails at the top of a climb.

You don't so much experience acceleration in the Chiron as succumb to it. It's otherworldly, and as the driver your eyes are so far down the road anticipating the next corner that you don't have time to see how fast you're going.

The fixed wing means you get no active airbrake action – but the standard carbon ceramics do a stunning job of stopping you

The fixed wing means you get no active airbrake action – but the standard carbon ceramics do a stunning job of stopping you

After one particularly tasty overtake on a diesel Peugeot 308 we were pleased to see that we'd used all 1,500hp (the dashboard tells you, as does one of the four screen-buttons in the centre stack), and a sneaky look at the speed suggests we'd only missed the Pur Sport's top speed by 60mph in the process. It's ridiculous.

You just told us it was fast *again*. How does it handle?

Far, far better than you'd imagine for a two-tonne car. This is helped by the beautiful connection the Chiron's carbon tub gives you. The Pur Sport is the least comfy Chiron, and you're always aware of the road surface through your bum and the steering wheel, but it's perfectly enjoyable for long drives (please, Bugatti?) – don't expect even this handling-focused model to rattle around like a Lotus.

The Pur Sport does hunt the road camber as you drive along, and it's especially noticeable on broken surfaces, but it never feels out of control – even when the traction control light is flickering at well into triple digit speeds. It turns into corners with real eagerness, and it never feels anything other than nimble. Understeer never enters the equation, and you feel the rear axle pushing the rear out of the corner as your eyeballs disappear into your head amidst the next onslaught of torque.

You get Pur Sport logos on the filler cap, seat headrests and on the knees cushion on the transmission tunnel

You get Pur Sport logos on the filler cap, seat headrests and on the knees cushion on the transmission tunnel

New for the Pur Sport is a Sport+ stability control setting which will let you drift your £3.4m carbon-fibre rocket ship. Dear reader, we did not try this. You can also hold the (fairly well hidden) ESC button to turn everything fully off. It'd be a great way to exit this world, that's for sure.

In reality, you'll be surprised and elated to find that the Chiron Pur Sport has a feeling of delicacy that you probably wouldn't have been expecting. We're not saying it's a GT3 RS rival, but you absolutely get a thrill out of it at road speeds through your favourite set of bends, and it shows there's far more to the Chiron's repertoire than making dirty big holes in the air.

What about the rest of it?

As close to perfection as the powertrain, frankly. Everything that looks like metal is hewn from billet aluminium (including the hinges for the sunvisors), and this use of solid materials not only helps keep road-noise down, it lends the cabin an air of relaxed opulence. Bugatti's deliberately not used a gloss carbon-fibre finish on the dashboard because it would feel too intense – this car is meant to be enjoyed as a relaxing GT. Apparently. Double-glazed windows help keep out the loudest turbo noises we've ever heard, though you'll immediately want to roll them down for the symphony of dumped boost hissing when you come off the gas.

Apart from some spaces behind the seats and some door bins, this is your luggage space

Apart from some spaces behind the seats and some door bins, this is your luggage space

There's no infotainment system to speak of, because Chirons will still exist in collections in 200 years time, and Bugatti has realised they need to be timeless. And it's fair to say most of these cars will outlast your mum's old Android phone by a fair margin.

The seats are supportive, comfortable and smell lovely, and there's a 44-litre frunk to store some small bags. Other than that small space, you're best off stashing stuff behind the seats or using the bare-carbon lidded door bins.

Oh, and in our couple of hours with the car we averaged 4.9mpg. It has a 100-litre fuel tank which, by our calculations, meant that we'd have been able to travel about 110 miles before filling up. That's awesome.

Should I buy one?

If you can afford it, then yes, absolutely. Tell them we sent you and use discount code DRIVETRIBE10. But in all seriousness, it's impossible even for seasoned cynics like us to get out of a Chiron and not shake our heads laughing at the sheer ludicrousness of it. From the speed to the delicacy, from the power to the luxury – it truly does seem to have it all.

It feels as if the Chiron Pur Sport is a refined, distilled essence of what a combustion engine can do – at least on the road. It's astonishingly usable, and if you've a fairly relaxed approach to the legalities of driving then you can enjoy more than you'd think on the road.

It's much more than a one-trick go-fast pony, and it's a shame it's so exclusively priced that so few people will have the experience. If there's one car in the world that you need to ride in before those robot dogs take over the planet, it's the Chiron. It's bloody brilliant.

Perfection. By the end of the day we were even okay with the custard colour...

Perfection. By the end of the day we were even okay with the custard colour...

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Comments (21)

  • Brilliant article! It looks so fun to drive 🤤. You’re really lucky!

      1 month ago
  • Great review but all I can remember is that you are in your overdraft and that Obama has genitals

      1 month ago
    • You’re not doing journalism as a career correctly unless you were in your overdraft for the first decade

        1 month ago
    • So people keep telling me😬

        1 month ago
  • Incredible video man. Those b roll shots in front of the château were gorgeous.

      1 month ago
    • Thanks Albert! Thought I better try harder than usual…

        1 month ago
    • And thank you for not falling into the same Bugatti trap of just high speed. I've never heard sounds like that either. What a car.

        1 month ago
  • I LOVE the Bugatti Chiron, frankly the most awesome car ever built. I could go on for hours about how much I love this car, but I won't. Total and complete awesomeness, through and through!

      1 month ago
  • I love that

      1 month ago
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