The Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport isn’t just a slight variation of the regular Chiron. It’s the raw-nerve version of Bugatti’s1479-hp ground-bound missile. It’s less isolated, more direct, more tightly wound, and more engaging than both the Chiron and Chiron Sport. It’s also slower. But it may be quicker.
There are a few obvious, visible tweaks to the $3.6 million Pur Sport that separate it from lesser Chirons. There are larger air intakes and a differently shaped nose over an expanded front splitter. The horseshoe-shaped grille is a bit wider, too, and there are new air extractors built into the tops of the slightly reshaped front fenders. In back, a massive diffuser is there to intimidate whoever the Pur Sport has just passed, as well as an utterly spectacular titanium exhaust outlet that could stand as sculpture on its own. Finally, there’s the fixed rear wing atop the tail that replaces the motorized unit on lesser versions.
Every Chiron makes a statement even when viewed from orbit. But some elements seem discordant in the Pur Sport. First is that rear wing, which seems like it belongs aboard a spacecraft in a Star Wars movie. Emphasizing the wing’s presence is the “BUGATTI” script that was painted atop it on the example we drove in California. Maybe that’s so there’s no confusion when the owner’s security detail is tracking the car from a helicopter. The second questionable design element is the number painted on the front grille—in the case of our example, 16, for the engine’s number of cylinders—which just seems unnecessary. Fortunately, a Bugatti’s appearance ultimately is at the whim of its buyer. Don’t want the lettering on the wing or the number in the grille? Just order it your way. This is a $3.6 million car of which only 60 will be built, and Bugatti wants you to be happy.
Inside the Pur Sport, the relatively plush seats of the Sport are replaced by thinner thrones that may as well super glue your butt to their carbon-fiber shells. Alcantara covers the steering wheel, flat-black trim replaces machined aluminum bits on the center dial controls, and a slash of red leather on the dash adds a distracting reflection in the windshield. The decoration here is still mostly carbon fiber and leather so supple that it’s almost erotically satisfying to stroke. There’s still no touchscreen, the instrumentation maintains an analog appearance (although a third of the display turns into the rearview camera when reverse is engaged), and the seating position is all luxury bunker.
While visibility out the front of the Pur Sport is fine, the rear wing virtually eliminates seeing out the back. The rearview mirror is more of a taunt than a useful device. Press the start button and the starter motor whirs in dramatic anticipation. Then the quad-turbocharged 8.0-liter W-16 barks to life with an exhaust growl that’s deeper than before. It’s more engaging, vastly more mechanical, and highly involving. Even before the Pur Sport moves, its driver risks sensory overload.
The Pur Sport’s removal of the regular car’s complex electro-hydraulic wing and some of its sound insulation, plus the fitment of thinner seats, knocks about 110 pounds off the Chiron’s curb weight. But that diet only goes so far when the Chiron Sport we previously tested weighed 4544 pounds. What the weight reduction really does is immerse the cockpit in a louder mechanical symphony. Turbos spool, intakes whoosh, and the exhaust roars. It’s a level of engagement some Chiron buyers will crave.
The shifter is still a silly wand, but when the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission engages, the car’s whole structure seems to tense up and ready itself to pounce. Yet, when we toed into the throttle, the Pur Sport moved out into Santa Monica traffic like a friendly pussycat. For a car with so much performance potential and such an overwhelming amount of power, what’s most remarkable about the Pur Sport, as with other Chirons, is how tame it is when puttering around town. Luggage capacity remains limited, but this is a machine that can be used every day without any drama beyond its mere superstar presence.
Diving down onto Pacific Coast Highway, the Pur Sport’s vast power comes into play as it merges into traffic. It’s such a regal machine that sharing the road with mere Lamborghinis and Ferraris feels shameful. It’s a car that deserves its own lane on whatever road it’s on.
Bugatti claims the Pur Sport’s aero tweaks add significant downforce at speed. There also are some mechanical changes, including the adoption of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires on “carbon blade” magnesium wheels that are each about nine pounds lighter than the aluminum wheels they replace, plus a stiffer suspension with additional front wheel camber. The suspension is 65 percent firmer in front and 33 percent stiffer in back versus lesser Chirons. But the tires are the real stars. More aggressive and with a softer compound than the Sport Cup 2s fitted on the Chiron Sport, the 2 Rs provide even quicker responses to steering inputs.
The tires’ louder tread roar may be distracting on a prolonged journey, but it’s just part of the show during shorter excursions. The Pur Sport’s slightly revised power steering brings an immediate and ultimately confidence-inspiring turn-in response. This all-wheel-drive car may weigh more than two tons, but it feels shockingly nimble and should build upon the 1.06 g of skidpad grip we recorded for the Chiron Sport.
The other big change is the revision to the Pur Sport’s gear ratios; its overall spread is 15 percent closer together than in other Chirons. This alteration becomes obvious when accelerating, as shifts come slightly sooner, and the engine’s revs barely drop between them. It also means the Pur Sport’s top speed is rated at only 217 mph—insanely fast, yet down from the Sport model’s claimed 261 mph. Although the Pur Sport’s terminal velocity may be less than its lesser kin, its acceleration may be even quicker. The weight reduction combined with the new gearing may shave a tenth of a second or so from the incredible 2.4-second 60-mph dash that the Chiron Sport managed in our testing.
Every Bugatti Chiron is ludicrously over the top, and the Pur Sport is even more so. As one of the few people on Earth who have driven both the Sport and Pur Sport, let me offer some cost-is-no-object advice in choosing the best Chiron configuration for you. First, go for the standard machine-finished dash controls. Second, skip the distracting contrasting-color element on the center console but opt for the Pur Sport’s punctured-leather dash covering. And demand the machined metal pedals, not the rubber-covered ones. Third, spring for the Pur Sport’s suspension and tires. At usable speeds on public roads, they make the car more fun and engaging, even if the resulting ride is louder and a bit firmer. As for the big wing, that’s up to you. If you can afford a Chiron, get the one you want.
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