The Bugatti Chiron wants to be king. So we decided to put it in the ring with its successor, the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, to see just how 'hyper' the new hypercar really is.
All good things must come to an end. In the case of Bugatti, it was the news the Veyron was going to be replaced, ending a reign of terror that was really only ever rivalled by Hennessey's Venom GT – a car that was technically faster in a straight line but never officially recognised as such.
Not that there was probably any concern at the Bugatti headquarters because the French manufacturer had been working on something considerably more powerful. A hypercar that hasn't just filled the Veyron's shoes, it's shredded them and sold the remnants on Ebay.
So just how powerful is the Chiron and why is it that much better than the Veyron Super Sport AKA the Veyron SS, the fastest version of the Veyron and the fastest car on the planet?
Only a lucky few will ever have the privilege of driving both, but we decided to delve into the technical specs to make an educated guess at what will emerge as the victor.
Bugatti Chiron vs Veyron SS: Design
Even if you had never seen either the Chiron or Veyron, it would be easy to see they have the same mother, especially from the front where both cars feature the same curved front grille occupied by a hefty Bugatti logo.
But where the Veyron had chunky front lights that have aged badly, the Chiron has sleek indents where four sets of fancy LED clusters call home. The front diffuser and bonnet, meanwhile, have cleaner, less cluttered lines. It's simpler yet more brutish.
Move to the side of the car and it is make or break for the Chiron. A mixture of the two-tone paint jobs and that mighty curve around the doors makes it far more meatier and more sculpted, which is good thing. Until you remember the Citroen 2CV, that is.
Not only are some of the colour palettes the same (light blue and white and the red and white, the latter of which was known as 'strawberry and cream'), the side profile shares more than a passing resemblance to the French classic. Once seen, the resemblance can't be unseen.
Let's not write off the Chiron just yet, though, because the full-width LED rear light, gigantic rear diffuser and that twin-exit exhaust are the stuff of dreams. The rear of the car flows like a wave into the roof in a way as pleasing as it is aerodynamically necessary.
Nobody would ever turn down a Veyron, but even with the 2CV comparison we think the Chiron is the more beautiful machine. Whether its design will age better or worse, we are unsure, but it certainly looks fresh.
As for the interior, the Veyron was a stunner but the Chiron has gone for an even sleeker design, with more impressive digital dials telling you far beyond the legal limit you are going and splashes of aluminium and carbon fibre throughout the car to jazz it up.
Tough call here, but the fresher design of the Chiron, both inside and out, wins it for us.
Bugatti Chiron vs Veyron SS: Performance & handling
Now for the really interesting part, just how powerful is the Chiron? Both cars use the 8.0-litre quad-turbocharged built by VW and both have dream worthy levels of horsepower, but the Chiron is in a whole different league.
Where the Veyron Super Sport developed 1,200hp, the Chiron ups the ante to 1,479bhp – a 492bhp increase on the original Veyron. This was achieved with a redesigned carbon fibre inlet manifold, bigger turbo chargers, titanium exhaust system and 32-injector injection system.
Torque has also been improved by 73lb/ft over the Veyron Super Sport, rising from 1,106 to 1,179lb/ft, but the all-wheel drive Chiron shares the same 0-62mph time of 2.5 seconds. Physics, it would seem, keep the two Bugattis evenly matched.
Beyond this point and the Chiron begins to leave its predecessor behind. 0-124mph takes less than 6.5 seconds – around a second slower than a Formula One car and two-tenths faster than the Veyron Super Sport.
0-186mph, meanwhile, happens in 13.6 seconds – an improvement of one second on the Super Sport and 3.1 seconds on the original Veyron. No wonder, then, VW's top secret test track in Germany (located in a no-fly zone) has a 5.5-mile straight.
Meanwhile the Chiron is said to top out at 261mph with the 'Top Speed' mode enabled (using a special key), a 7mph improvement on the Veyron Super Sport but still behind that of the 270.4mph Hennessey Venom GT and the Chiron speedometer's maximum reading of 310mph.
Not only is it more torquey, the Chiron has access to all of it from 2,000rpm, while the new double-powered turbos sees two build power until 3,800rpm, at which point all four work together. The reason is to make power delivery more linear. In other words, the acceleration only begins to ease up 'somewhere beyond 400km/h', according to Bugatti.
As for handling, the Chiron is 155kg heavier than the 1,840kg Veyron Super Sport, 82mm longer, 40mm wider and 53mm taller, resulting in 12mm more headroom but increased heft to get around corners.
Even though the Veyron Super Sport was heavy, it was surprisingly quick around a track. The Chiron should be no slouch, either, especially when it will make up for the extra weight with greater levels of performance.
Both cars share the same seven-speed dual clutch automatic, but the Chiron's version has been reworked to cope with those extra horses. They also have the same four-wheel drive system, which can vary how much power is sent to each wheel, meaning traction aplenty when it is needed.
The Veyron is still a hypercar by modern-day standards, but the Chiron eclipses it by some margin albeit at the expense of weight.
Winner: Bugatti Chiron
Bugatti Chiron vs Veyron SS: Economy & environment
Neither car will save you money in fuel, but both cars are claimed to be relatively frugal. Where the old Veyron had a combined fuel economy figure of 23.1mpg (in reality it got around 11mpg), the Chiron has direct injection and is slightly more efficient.
No one ever drives a Veyron slowly, of course, and certainly not the Chiron. At full tilt, the Veyron drinks all of its fuel in 12 minutes, while the tyres burn out in 15 minutes. The Chiron, meanwhile drinks all 22 gallons of fuel in around nine minutes. Not exactly what would you call eco-friendly, then.
Mind you, CO2 emissions should be improved or at least similar compared with the Veyron Super Sport's 539g/km combined figure – three times more than a Ford Focus RS. But Bugatti is yet to officially reveal the figure, which says something in itself.
Winner: Bugatti Chiron
Bugatti Chiron vs Veyron SS: Equipment & value
£850,000 was a huge number in itself and what you paid for the original Veyron, but you could buy more than two for the price of the £1.9 million (€2.4million) Chiron. Or 63 of the Focus RS. Or nearly 14 of the new Porsche 911 R.
You do at least get an extremely plush interior and a few interior gadgets, but then you are not buying the Chiron because of its infotainment system. You want the bragging rights and making other hypercars look slow comes with a big number – a number many of us can only dream of having in our bank.
It helps, too, that just 150 cars will be sold so either you get on the phone to Bugatti now and hope there is one left for sale or cross your fingers for a Chiron Super Sport version. The thing is, the Veyron was cheaper and therefore technically better value.
Winner: Bugatti Veyron
Bugatti Chiron vs Veyron SS: Which is best?
The Bugatti Veyron was an epic machine, make no mistake, and one that pushed the boundary of human engineering. It was fast, ridiculous, unbelievably fast and built as a labour of love because each one was sold at a loss.
It seems Bugatti is keen to avoid losing money this time around, but the Chiron picks up where the Veyron left off nicely. To call it anything but a hypercar would do it a disservice – it's a fire-breathing beast for those with pockets deeper than the Grand Canyon.
There may be a number of more powerful and lighter competitors out there, such as the Venom GT and Koenigsegg Regera, not to mention the 'Holy Trinity' that is the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder get pretty close on paper, but the Chiron is still a hypercar brute like no other.
Is it as monumental as the Veyron, though? Perhaps not. But it is at least as desirable and shows just what sort of brilliance humans can achieve when they're not too busy fighting each other. We'll take two, please.