Mandatory driving route with a compressed timeframe emphasized the narrative of the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport: to satisfy the expressed desire of a subset of Chiron owners to trade the undiscovered and often unreachable country of a 261-mph top speed for a 217-mph top speed and sports car capabilities.
This simple extension of Bugatti’s brand mission opened the playing field for Bugatti engineers to transform the Molsheim Meteor into a multi-dimensional exotic that steers, brakes, and corners in classic sports car style, while also setting new records for sprinting, that most easily accessible and readily understood measure of speed. It’s the same car with a completely different skill set.
Pur Sport is the quickest internal combustion production car on the planet, reaching 60 mph in just…2.3 seconds. Pur Sport is a harder-edged elaborazione of the 1479-horsepower 16-cylinder Bugatti Chiron I drove years ago with two-time Le Mans winner and Bugatti development driver Andy Wallace in the passenger seat.
The 8-liter engine is unchanged from Chiron, four banks of four cylinders, the outer banks wide, the inner two forming a narrow vee. Maximum torque of 1180 lb. ft. is available in a turbocharged plateau from 2000 to 6000. Maximum revs are up by two hundred to 6900, allotting a margin of error to carry through a turn without a forced upshift. I will always call this engine The Furious Cube. Visit the Reno Air Races or a vintage event with 1960s Can-Am cars to get a sense of the deep, woofly sound. Just like with a big-bore V12, the engine rumbles right through the torso, shaking internal organs.
Without need of stretching to 261 mph, Pur Sport has an all-new set of tightly stacked gears, ratios much closer together. Seventh gear is roughly comparable to Chiron’s fifth gear. Roll-on acceleration is brilliant, Pur Sport outrunning Chiron from say, 60 mph to 100, or 100 to 150, the most common playground of speed assassins here in America when opportunity knocks, when the road suddenly opens and there’s no one else around. Who doesn’t want that shot of adrenaline?
Nothing better illustrates the application of power than the sprint from 60 to 120 kph (roughly 37 to 75 mph). Bugatti’s own testing certifies that Pur Sport gets the jump on Chiron by almost two seconds. Imagine throwing down with that kind of acceleration in the Los Angeles Midnight Grand Prix. Most other cars will need a nitrous bottle to keep Pur Sport in sight.
For a tire to survive spinning at speeds over 250 or 260 mph, considerable cornering ability is sacrificed. Pur Sport’s classic sports car mission liberated Michelin engineers to apply lessons from other gummy hypercar tires. As Andy Wallace told me on my first Chiron drive, 261 mph is a big ask, especially for the tires. These Michelins are gummy and eager for lateral loads.
For a car to remain stable and true at 261 mph, suspension must be relaxed, with a desire to remain arrow-straight in trajectory. In Pur Sport, suspension engineers dialed in 2.5 degrees negative camber, creating a car that absolutely loves to change direction with utmost precision. Unsprung weight in the brake calipers was shaved thanks to Bugatti’s expertise in 3D printing of Titanium. Magnesium wheels further cut unsprung weight. A lighter wheel/tire/brake assembly at the ends of suspension arms allows more tightly controlled wheel motion. Again, that word precision. The weight loss has also allowed stiffer connective tissue in the suspension. Even in the plushest of five calibration settings, Pur Sport is taut. But now she loves to dance.
Precision and brilliant are the operative words with Pur Sport. The car steers with such precision I shouted involuntarily in one sweeping bowled corner. It’s an extraordinary talent, especially considering Pur Sport still weighs well over two tons thanks to the sheer mass of the permanent all-wheel drive, dual-clutch gearbox and 8-liter 16-cylinder engine with four turbos. Pur Sport steers so sweetly that it could exhilarate with only one of its four-cylinder banks powering it.
Unlike a 261-mph top speed, which requires a decommissioned NATO airbase, miles of mythological and nearly non-existent empty Autobahn, Bonneville, or a stretch of lonely desert highway across the Arabian peninsula, standing start acceleration and cornering are easily accessed every single time the car is taken for a drive. In two hours, Pur Sport proved itself completely at home on a California canyon road. Hats off to the Ricardo transmission engineers, the lads at Michelin, and the software geeks who scripted launch control. You boys nailed it.
With demands for ultra-high-speed aero lessened, Bugatti engineers replaced the active rear spoiler and its hydraulic system with a piece of carbon-fiber as beautiful as I’ve ever seen, a high rear spoiler that looks like an Art Deco sculpture of a sea monster’s tail, if ever such a creature swam the ocean depths. The 6-foot 3-inch wide rear spoiler along with the extended front splitter increase downforce, again improving handling capability at easily attainable speeds.
Bugatti should offer as option a second rear spoiler, mounted to a table base, or ready for mounting on the office wall. An owner could keep the six-foot three-inch carbon-fiber blade as a remembrance, or toss it into the bargain when Pur Sport crosses the block at a Gooding auction in the year 2030.
Pur Sport is 110 pounds lighter than Chiron thanks to Titanium bits in the brakes and exhaust, lightweight Alcantara replacing quilted leather, and the simple rear spoiler. It’s still a hefty 4288 dry weight. A full tank will add 156 pounds, and then there’s gallons of oil for a 16-cylinder engine with dry sump. All Chirons are constructed like Le Mans prototype racers, the structure almost entirely carbon-fiber, so the considerable weight is in The Furious Cube, massive gearbox sitting under one’s elbow, and the front and rear drive systems. If the world ever allows free travel again and I’m in Molsheim, I’d love to do the strongman photo op, deadlifting a carbon-fiber Chiron fuselage.
Chiron is an opulent hypercar for seduction of a sophisticated and lovely companion, cossetting and comfortable on a drive to Disney Hall for the LA Opera performing Puccini. Pur Sport has a harder, sharper edge. In an otherworldly way, it’s the difference between a 911 Turbo S and 911 GT2 RS. Similar fundamentals, but a totally different experience. Pur Sport is for a one-up mountain drive followed by assignation, a romantic rendezvous at a fine hotel.
The late Ferdinand Piëch, who placed Bugatti at the pinnacle of the VW Group’s family of luxury brands, defined Bugatti with an at-all-costs top-speed edict combined with opulent luxury. Chiron fulfills that vision. When VW shifted Stephan Winkelmann from Lamborghini to Bugatti, they hoped he could replicate his Sant‘Agata successes, Lamborghini having scaled sales and engineering heights the brand had never approached in a half-century. Winkelmann has applied his proven approach of strictly limited runs of cars with unique engineering, aero and design properties. Winkelmann has done so well in Molsheim that he’s currently CEO of both brands.
Pur Sport diverges to fill the many dimensions of sports car performance, but Winkelmann will counterbalance Pur Sport with other elaboraziones like the Chiron 300, a production car with a 300-mph top speed, and Bolide, a Chiron-based track car. Winkelmann’s key decision, lowering the top speed, is validated. Precise and brilliant. If only I’d had all day.