Who would you want behind the wheel of “the world’s fastest car” at its UK dynamic debut at the Festival of Speed? A racing legend perhaps, a champion from F3, Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, previous holder of fastest road-car title (in a McLaren F1) and one of the nicest blokes to boot? Call for Andy Wallace!
JUN 24th 2016
What's It Like To Drive A 1,500hp Bugatti Chiron?
When Andy lines up his new steed at the FoS start he will have 1,500hp under his right foot. Like everyone at FoS this year he will certainly be giving it “full throttle” but there will be no smoke, little fury and certainly no doughnuts. Just pure speed, deployed with the clinical precision that is the hallmark of the new £2m Bugatti Chiron.
“I am going to set the climate control to 21 degrees but I think I will give the music a rest,” Andy tells GRR. “It will be a very calm run. The Chiron is not really designed for hillclimbs. It may be more powerful than any racing car I ever drove at Le Mans, but it is certainly not a racing car.
“I only ever had around 1,200hp for qualifying and 800 for the race at Le Mans (where has raced 22 times, winning it with the Silk Cut Jaguar in 1988). I never imagined having 1,500hp in a race car, let alone in a sports car for the road that is as comfortable and cosseting as the Chiron.”
One of the undoubted road-car stars of this year’s festival, the Chiron will have everyone’s attention when it is seen in action for the first time in this country, with Andy behind the wheel every day of FoS.
Andy is one of an elite team of drivers enlisted to demonstrate the firm’s cars to fans and potential customers. He has already done tens of thousands of miles in the Veyron and the Chiron, but admits that he hasn’t had top speed out of the new car yet.
That is claimed to be more than 261mph in top speed mode, or “just” 236mph in handling mode. What mode will Andy be using at Goodwood? “Handling mode I think will be enough. The Chiron may be able to get from 0-200-0 in 20-something seconds but you need a piece of road a great deal longer than Lord March’s 1.16-mile driveway to do it.”
How does the Chiron differ to drive from the Veyron? “If you drove a Veyron you’d think, how on earth do you improve on this? It was difficult to imagine what you could do to make it better. But believe me, the Chiron is a big step forward in every way.”
Andy says the torque of the new quad turbo W16 engine has to be experienced to be believed: almost 1,200lb ft and from lower in the rev range than before. “If you floor the accelerator by the time the pedal hits the stop you already have maximum torque available, but there is so much traction there is never any drama.”
Will there be a tingle of anticipation for him when he lines up the Chiron on the start line? “I will be excited for sure. It will be fantastic. There’s only person at the Festival of Speed who’s going to drive the world’s fastest car. And that’s me. How lucky do you have to be?”
Photography by Pete Summers