Bugatti's $2.7 Million Chiron Gives VW Reprieve From Diesel Woes

  • Latest supercar accelerates to 100 kph in 2.5 seconds
  • VW to limit production run of Chiron to 500 vehicles

For a brief moment at this year’s Geneva car show, the good ole days were back for Volkswagen AG.

As two parallel walls slid gracefully to the side on Monday afternoon to reveal the Bugatti Chiron, the new supercar crouched on an over-sized turntable before its engine roared to life. The invite-only crowd applauded, cameras clicked furiously, car executives smiled. The mood was more elegance than pompous unveiling, with the design chief dressed in a dark blue suit and bow tie solemnly walking the audience through the features.

It was a world apart from the paralysis that has befallen parent Volkswagen since September, when the company admitted to having cheated on emissions readings in its diesel cars, leading to the departure of its long-time, auto-crazed CEO and ringing in a new era of humility under his successor, Matthias Mueller. But for Bugatti in Geneva, excess and engineering extravagances briefly flickered back to life.

That’s why the Chiron, with its long list of engineering feats, sticks out like the massive rear spoiler of its predecessor, the Bugatti Veyron, of which 450 units were made. The 2.4 million-euro ($2.7 million) price tag will buy you 1,500 horsepowers packed into a 16-cylinder engine that catapults the two-seat car to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in less than 2.5 seconds. The speedometer goes to 500 km/h, just in case.

While speed for road use is limited to 420 kph, Bugatti says the Chiron will “significantly exceed” a record that its predecessor set for a car made for the non-racing public. On a racetrack, the Veyron’s fastest version reached 431 kph.

Bugatti is Volkswagen’s most extreme brand and a symbol of the company’s engineering extravagance. The German automaker has stuck by Bugatti, which was revived with the Veyron’s introduction in 2005, even as the VW, Skoda, Seat and Audi divisions grapple with the aftermath of rigging diesel engines on 11 million cars to cheat on emissions tests.

The new car is named after Louis Chiron, a race driver during the brand’s heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. Volkswagen acquired the Bugatti marque in 1998 and seven years later brought out the Veyron, one of the most controversial pet projects of the German company’s former CEO and chairman, Ferdinand Piech.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.