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Automobiles

Bugatti Chiron headed for Geneva in shadow of VW scandal

Despite its troubles, the VW Group is pressing ahead with a new Bugatti supercar, officially dubbed Chiron. It's expected to pack over 1,600 horsepower and make a bid for the title of "World's Fastest Automobile."

Bugatti has officially confirmed that it will show a successor to its Veyron hypercar at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and its name is Chiron.

Named after racer Louis Chiron, a legendary Bugatti factory driver in the 1920s and 1930s, the Chiron will look to build on the credentials of the Veyron, a heavyweight two-seat coupe that set a world record of 267.7 mph for a street-legal vehicle in Super Sports trim. The Chiron is expected to brandish a hybridized version of the Veyron's quadruple-turbo 8.0-liter W-16 engine, pumping out over 1,600 horsepower and in excess of 1,100 pound-feet of torque. 0-60 mph is targeted at two seconds flat and Bugatti engineers are chasing a top speed of over 270 mph. Bugatti president Wolfgang Dürheimer describes the Chiron's design brief as simply, "We want to make the best significantly better."

Bugatti recently surprised audiences at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September when it showed the Vision Gran Turismo concept shown in the gallery above. While that show car will only be available to drive in the popular Sony PlayStation driving simulator Gran Turismo, its styling is expected to influence the production Chiron.

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Like the Veyron, the Chiron will have an ultra-lux interior all sewn up.

Bugatti

The Chiron arrives at an awkward time for Bugatti's German parent, the Volkswagen Group. It's embroiled in the "Dieselgate" emissions scandal, the fallout from which could cost as much as $86 billion. VW has been going through its budget line-by-line in an effort to slash costs to pay for the damages from the so-called "defeat devices," and it's expected to cut entire vehicle development programs (if not sell off or shutter entire divisions) to do so. What's more, a costly niche program like the Chiron is unlikely to make any money at all. The Veyron, a technological moonshot and halo car for all of VW, is widely acknowledged to have lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

VW's woes aside, the Chiron will doubtlessly be greeted warmly by the tycoons and plutocrats who can afford to park one in their garage (it's expected to cost well over $1 million). The ultra-high-end luxury car business is booming globally, and Bugatti says it's already received 100 orders for the Chiron. That's impressive, because the Veyron only sold 450 examples over a decade of production.

While armchair critics will likely howl about the Chiron's reveal while VW is publicly attempting to look contrite in the wake of its emissions nightmare, the Chiron was in development for years before the scandal broke, and hundreds of millions have already been poured into its development. If VW wants to see any returns on its investment, it needs to start Chiron production as soon as possible.

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