NASA’s space shuttles hit the runway at a staggering 220 mph, but the Bugatti Chiron can achieve a greater speed on the same piece of tarmac
Achievements are only impressive the first couple of times, and after that, they kind of become boring. Such was the case with NASA’s exploits. Nearly every American with a TV set tuned in to watch the moon landing, but we all got bored of shuttle launches pretty quickly.
That’s a pain that Bugatti knows all too well. The brand’s achievements since joining the Volkswagen group are nothing less than exceptional, but we tend to forget about them because what does 250 mph (402 km/h) really mean?
Well, Top Gear Magazine decided to find out in a new video. Joining Bugatti at the Kennedy Space Center‘s Shuttle Landing Facility, the magazine’s deputy editor, Ollie Kew, wanted to see what it was like to drive the Chiron Super Sport along the 15,000 foot (4,572 meter) runway.
Predictably, the result was pretty impressive. Endowed with an 8.0-liter W16 engine that produces 1,578 hp (1,176 kW/1,600 PS), the car has previously managed to exceed a record-setting 300 mph (483 km/h), albeit with revised gearing and extended bodywork.
Read: Andy Wallace Says Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ Was Still Accelerating At 304 MPH
But Kew points out that the success of the Chiron Super Sport was not necessarily in its ability to set records, but instead its ability to make insane speeds seem normal. Indeed, along the Florida runway that once welcomed astronauts back to earth, the car managed to hit 250 mph.
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To put that into perspective, that’s roughly 30 mph (48 km/h) faster than the space shuttle ever went on the same stretch of tarmac. That’s because the spacecraft hit the runway going around of 220 mph (354 km/h). The violence and wear caused by slowing a 100 ton machine from that speed down to zero in about 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) was such that UPI reports NASA spent about $50,000 per flight repairing the brakes.
Meanwhile (and with all due respect to Mr. Kew), Bugatti is now able to send some guy down the track faster than that, and bring him to a stop in less distance (albeit in a much lighter vehicle), and to do it all in relative safety.
The reason that Bugatti’s achievements aren’t as impressive anymore isn’t because the goal posts moved around it – it’s because the Chiron moved the goal posts.