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Consider Bugatti's $2.6 million Chiron

Can a car have it all?

The C-shaped design motif seen in the Chiron's profile view – inspired by the company's 1930s classics – is repeated inside, where a similarly shaped light strip rises up between the front seats.

The sound was unforgettable: an ominous, mechanical clatter – rumbling, whirring and occasionally wheezing like a sleeping giant – just past my shoulders. I could have sworn there was a pack of Peterbilt semis idling behind me. Touch the accelerator and that drone quickly ramped into the thundering gallop of a locomotive.

It was the summer of 2009 and I had the opportunity – nay, privilege – of piloting a $2.1 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 convertible from Los Angeles to San Diego and back. That sonic smorgasbord still etched into the recesses of my auditory cortex was courtesy of the car’s quadruple-turbo 8.0-liter W-16 engine mounted behind the cabin. Essentially two twin-turbo V-8s sandwiched together, that engine – along with the more than two dozen computer processors that controlled it – was good for world-beating figures like 1,001 hp and a top speed of 253 mph.

By the time the last of the 450 Veyrons produced was sold in early 2015, Bugatti itself had bested those figures: a top spec Veyron 16.4 Super Sport packing 1,200 hp could sprint from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 267 mph. But alas, the Veyron is dead, long live the Veyron! Now, all hail the Chiron!

Named for one of the winningest drivers in the French automaker’s history, the Chiron (pronounced “shir-on”) is Bugatti’s latest attempt to beat itself – and everyone else, for that matter – in creating the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious, and most exclusive road car. And frankly, based on the Chiron’s debut at the Geneva Motor Show in late February, we like their odds.

Using a new version of the company’s quad-turbo W16 engine, Bugatti says the Chiron is capable of 1,500 hp and 1,180 lb.-ft. of torque, propelling this $2.6 million engineering marvel to a “road-limited” top speed of 260.9 mph; the car’s closed-road potential could reportedly approach 300 mph. Nor is the Chiron all about straight-line speed: Among its driving modes is a slip-sliding “drift” setting for the truly adventurous.

While all the super-stratospheric performance hairsplitting surrounding the Chiron is indeed impressive, the car takes an even more significant leap forward in the looks department. Though clearly a direct descendent of the Veyron, the chiseled Chiron bests its bulbous predecessor with a lower, wider and far more aggressive look. Perhaps its most striking feature is a dramatic C-shaped silver character line that swoops from the base of the windshield, up along the roofline, around the back of the doors, and down to the base of the front wheel wells. Consider it one of the many already unforgettable elements of the newest Bugatti. :: bugatti.com

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