If it feels like we get a new hypercar unveiled every other week, it is because we damn near do. Manufacturers bank on more successfully selling a few cars for a lot than a ton of cars for less. For the most part, these seven-figure machines follow a similar formula. Big power, outrageous performance stats, and sleek styling with clever aero. All good things, except with so many new special editions debuting back to back, hardly any of them genuinely are anymore.
French carmaker Bugatti sits at the other end of the spectrum as a whale in the small pond. It essentially created the modern hypercar space with the introduction of the Veyron back in 2005. Since then, it has continued to push the bar higher the only way it knows how by over-engineering its cars to unbelievable degrees. It is the only carmaker to offer a W16 engine, one of few to produce more than a few dozen units, and perhaps the only brand to produce a hypercar that’s genuinely usable by almost anyone.
We recently went out to Malibu to get behind the wheel of one of its latest creations, the 2022 Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, for an afternoon coastal drive. Although our route was relatively short, it was enough to learn that the Super Sport is not only outrageously quick but that it also looks absolutely stunning in the California sunshine.
The Chiron Super Sport is an imposing vehicle. At 7.4 inches longer than a standard Chiron, the Super Sport sets itself apart with its lengthened tail. Since most of the added bodywork lives at the car’s rear, it also slightly shifts its weight distribution further back. Before we stepped in, the folks from Bugatti urged us to treat it like we would a Porsche 911.
The second note was around the car’s positioning within the lineup. The Super Sport is all about top speed. Its styling revolves entirely around high-speed stability and reducing lift as it approaches its 273 mph limit. It also doubles as a GT car, while the Pur Sport sits at the top of the food chain as the track-focused variant.
Styling-wise, the Super Sport is the sleekest Chiron yet. Thanks to its lengthened bodywork, it benefits from a more streamlined design that flows quite well and retains excellent proportions, given the car’s size. The goal behind the long tail is to keep the air flowing over the car attached to the bodywork as long as possible while simultaneously reducing drag. Unfortunately, a drive through the California coastline was not enough to put this to the test, so we will have to take Bugatti’s word on it.
Step closer, and the Super Sport rewards with intricate styling details, such as the nine exhaust holes in the front fenders that aid in reducing air pressure from the front wheels. Even the headlights are slightly inclined, flanked by modified lower intakes that help channel air evenly into the front wheel arches and flow out via new outlets just behind them. The Super Sport may appear quite similar to a standard Chiron, but a detailed look reveals far more differences than similarities.
The rear end is a similar story where the Super Sport wears a new set of stacked exhaust tips housed in an aggressive diffuser. An active rear spoiler remains hidden in its tail until summoned at higher speeds. It dips back down as you go for top-speed runs to reduce as much drag as possible. Five-spoke lightweight wheels come standard, although the Pur Sport’s magnesium wheels are available as an option.
After a thorough look at the car, it was time to drive. Fittingly for a Los Angeles afternoon, we started in slow-moving traffic, an ideal scenario while covering our first miles in a 1,578 hp 1,180 lb-ft vehicle that costs $4.3 million as tested. Even at crawling speeds, the Super Sport’s 8.0-liter quad-turbocharged W16 delivered a noticeably louder growl than a “standard” Chiron. It emits a deep, low-frequency tone supplemented by endless wooshing turbo noises. It is an experience for its driver as well as everyone around. As we inched through the gridlock, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission delivered smooth, quick, and seemingly imperceptible gear changes.
During this first portion of the drive, the Super Sport may have well been any other modern car. It proved surprisingly easy to drive and almost faded to the background. It was surprisingly easy to forget we were in a hypercar. As traffic thinned out and our speed increased, that sentiment quickly changed. Unlike the Pininfarina Battista we tested before, the Chiron does not limit power as we move through its various drive settings. It offers up full power all of the time.
One flick of the left paddle was all it took, and the Super Sport was ready to stretch its legs. It will hit 62 mph in 2.4 seconds flat out, but that is not even the most impressive part. We pinned the pedal to the floor at around 60 mph, and after a whiff of turbo lag, we took off, blasting deep into three-figure speeds in mere seconds. Despite the figures climbing in the Chiron’s semi-digital dash, the Super Sport remained unbothered. Comparatively, other hypercars with similar outputs will get squiggly as the sheer might of the engine tries to rip the tires off the wheels. However, this Bugatti replaces terror with confidence, urging its drive to push deeper into triple-digit speeds.
The Super Sport remained a willing dance partner as the road got twisty. Despite its 4,398 curb weight, it is light on its feet. There is tons of front-end agility, and with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires on all four corners, it remained stable and offered tremendous grip. If anything, the Chiron’s most significant drawback is that it is too composed and a bit anti-climactic. Sure its straight-line speed is heart-stoppingly quick, but the Super Sport does not require its driver to work for it, reducing overall driver involvement.
Inside, the Chiron Super Sport is by far the best-built vehicle we have tested thus far. With not even a stitch out of place, the carbon-fiber and leather-filled interior defines what a premium cabin should be. While two screens flank the central analog tachometer, their graphics are limited and closely tied to the rest of the interior’s overall theme. The lack of overt tech also carries on to the dashboard’s center, which is missing the industry-standard screen and infotainment system. According to Bugatti, this is to prevent the cabin from appearing aged prematurely.
Comfort-wise, Bugatti offers a standard and wide seat. Our tester featured the standard seat, which offered plenty of comfort and support but was slightly stiffer than expected. Regardless, the Chiron Super Sport joins the lineup as yet another daily-drivable hypercar, although unfortunately, most of these cars will hardly rack up miles throughout their extensive lifespans.
The Bugatti Chiron Super Sport is part of the Chiron’s total production run of 500 units. The vehicle we tested came in at $4.3 million thanks to extensive carbon-fiber options. The French carmaker is expected to build a total of 60 units plus an additional 30 units of the Super Sport 300+.
Built for a corner of the market that can have anything they want, the Chiron Super Sport sets itself apart by banking on how it makes you feel. From its ominous look to its sculpted interior, the Chiron is an experience from the moment you lay your eyes on it.
As a high-speed GT car, the Super Sport defines its segment. Given its size, the fact that it still accelerates, stops, and steers as well as it does is a testament to its extensive engineering. While it was not the most electrifying driving experience, a hyper GT car does not need to be. In a world where its list of competitors seems to grow weekly, the Super Sport excels at what it was designed to do by delivering excessive speed wrapped in a stunning shape with enough road presence to remind all newcomers who invented the segment nearly two decades ago.
Images via Bugatti