Pity poor Bugatti. Once upon a time, it ruled the world. We're not talking just about the incredible "Type-" cars of the early 20th Century either. The Veyron, when it landed in the mid-noughties, featured a scarcely credible 1,000bhp produced by its W16 engine.
A pet project of VW group patriarch, Ferdinand Piech, its development broke engineering teams — who had to ensure the car met exacting quality standards. The end result was a car that had a top speed of 250mph — at rate at which it would empty its fuel tank in around 40-minutes.
It was, when launched, also the most expensive car in the world. The Pagani and Koenigsegg cars of the world seemed like bit-part players then, and the McLaren F1 was long a memory of the past.
Fast forward 10 years and Bugatti has been struggling to sell its last few remaining Veyrons — in part due to the arrival of the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918. All of which were nearly as fast (in some cases faster), far more dramatic to look at, cost less, and probably are a little more exclusive too.
Bugatti Chiron preview: Only 500 being made
This is Bugatti's answer: the 1,479bhp Chiron. A car capable of over 260mph top speed, and 0-60mph in less than 2.5 seconds. It ought to have the firepower to out-Top Trump the cars from Woking, Stuttgart and Modena.
It'll cost £1.9m — yes, nearly two million pounds — when it goes on sale in the autumn, and if you've got some cash sloshing around from that lottery win, you'll be pleased to know they're not all yet sold out in the way most Ferraris are as soon as they're announced. Yes, there are still 300-odd slots out of the 500 Bugatti plan to build in total (at the time of writing).
Despite extensive use of carbon fibre, the Chiron is rumoured to weigh 200kg more than the already heavy Veyron, but that carbon bodywork makes it look far more dramatic, less dumpy and heavy in its form than the car it replaces.
The most dramatic element of the design for our money is either the four recessed individual lamps sat within a deeply cowled opening at the front, or the giant C-shape that defines the side profile, and demarcates the point of colour split.
Bugatti Chiron preview: Slim on the tech
When we finally badgered our way inside the car at the Geneva Motor Show, we were surprised and intrigued to see this form in the cabin too, forming a divide between passenger and driver in a most interesting and novel way that we've not seen before — but which will make 260mph chitter chatter a tricky thing, we suspect.
There's lashings of leather, carbon fibre and chrome inside, obviously, but it might surprise you that the Chiron isn't more overtly tech. The concept "vision GT", which we reported on from Frankfurt, featured a curved OLED display and race-car like steering controls — but the Chiron sticks with a Veyron-like centre stack without a screen.
Instead, you make do with beautifully knurled aluminium buttons, and a sparely detailed speedo in the cluster (which reads to 500kmph!) and is flanked by two digital screens, which weren't in an active state on the Geneva show floor.
The Chiron doesn't quite possess the road racer qualities of the McLaren P1 or the LaFerrari, but nonetheless it looks set to help Bugatti firmly reclaim its "king of the supercar hill" title.
It takes a different route — stupendously fast, yet also setup to be the kind of vehicle to help you cross Europe in a day. Its exclusivity and sheer cost will make sure it retains its appeal with the super-rich. While for the rest of us, the Chiron's character and design makes it just a little easier to love than the car which it is replacing.
So if you've £1.9M going spare, get your order in. One in dual-tone blue should do just nicely — plus you'll have £100,000 spare from that two mil that you've got knocking about.